I sit in my co-working place, it’s 5 pm. I am surrounded by people who want to change the world. Some just started. Some long in ‘business’. Everyone is passionate about what they do, full of ideas, full of good intentions. Looking in their faces gives me hope and confidence. And a sense of certainty that a different way of life is possible.
The atmosphere is cordial, at ease and open. In our cozy, artsy, self-made co-working bubble, it’s easy to forget. We are surrounded by like-minded people. Once we leave the office, there are endless events to choose from to meet similar.
It seems like we are so many.
We are only a few
But we are not. We are only a very small percentage of the world that seems to invade Berlin like grasshoppers.
While I drink a fair-trade coffee, I meet others in the chill out area. We talk about projects, ideas, possible cooperations. We constantly talk about changing the world. It’s typical. Put two of us in the same room and the topic is out. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes.
We search each other. We find each other.
Partly, because it’s interesting, partly because we need each other to support our ideals.
Because we are unrealistic daydreamers, utopians.
Some of us are.
As soon as one sounds a little over the edge or fails in an attempt to a different life, the masses – watching us from afar – feel confirmed.
They feel confirmed that our way of thinking and living is not sustainable, nor real, nor scalable. They call us daydreamers. Without a real job.
And they are right.
Everyone is right
In some way. Some of us will never find an answer. Some of us will fight and burn out. Some of us will choose to give up. Some of us will find it too hard to try. Some of us lose hope.
But so do they.
For some though it feels exactly right. The struggle, the despair, the complexity.
And so for them.
Everything we do comes with a price tag.
For all of us.
We decide which price we want to pay. Some people pay the price of doing a job that is not in line with their values, they give up their ideals or accept a mortgage for a nicer home, while some people give up their safety zone, maybe their acceptance by a large part of society.
What we don’t realize is that we are the same. Each of us pays a price, it’s only a different one.
If it’s hard for one person to work in a job that doesn’t feel right, for another it’s not having a secure income. I can feel great about a new home – even with a mortgage – just as I can feel great about sharing a small apartment with other people.
What separates us is what unites us
What separates us is the question what we consider worth living. In our everyday lives, in the judgements we have of each other, in the brief encounters, there is not enough room or time for such existential questions.
So more often than not, we don’t face it.
We keep blaming and criticizing each other, we mistrust our differences.
The only truth we want to see is our own.
It’s easier. It’s safe. If we go there, we might question our very existence and our life’s path.
But what if there is no black or white? What if there is no ONE solution? What if the manager in the cooperate world is just as right as the change maker at Greenpeace? What if there is no good or bad?
In my co-working place, people are now closing their laptops, heading home or to an event. At night they wonder if they are doing the right thing.
A few kilometers down, in the industrial park of Berlin, people close their laptops, heading home or to an event. At night they wonder if they are doing the right thing.
I close my laptop. It’s raining. I ride my bike home, seeing sameness instead of difference.
Once you start seeing that you are just the same as everyone around you, life becomes easy.