Once again it’s time for my weekly Monday posting and I find my thoughts dwelling deeply on what I saw this afternoon. I spent the day walking around Frankfurt after a few hours of working on my sequel to AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION in the morning. Tomorrow I head back home to DC and so today was the last day of my writing vacation – a couple of weeks that I spent in Europe for bits of work and bits of pleasure, along with focusing on my writing more than anything else and seeking out inspiration from the places I’ve been visiting. Over this trip, I visited Paris, London, Hamburg, a small town in East Germany called Plauen, and finally Frankfurt on my way back home.
My week in Germany has included lots of aimless wandering and exploring of the different cities I’ve been in. During this time, I have noticed again and again the contrast of the old church that I can recognize from visiting other places in Europe next to a building that is most certainly “new” but built in an older style. I knew the reason for this, but the reality still amazed (and amazes) me. During World War II so many of Germany’s prettiest spots were destroyed by air raids, and yet the facades now stand again, resilient and strong. Below are two aerial shots of the area around the Frankfurt Cathedral which was completely destroyed. The only reason that the church remained standing is that it was used as a landmark for allied forces’ pilots to ensure their position was accurate. According to a friend that I met today at dinner, this is the reason that most of the large churches in Germany were able to withstand the war.
The current view is much more pleasant, with the entire old city rebuilt around the Cathedral. I’ve attached a black and white photo below so that you can really see the difference between the two shots.
Being able to feel the extent of the reconstruction in person gives me a new appreciation for the power of human resilience. My experience today also reminded me of a quote from the first Captain America movie: “…the first country that the Nazis invaded was their own.” I may be a nerd for quoting Captain America, but this quote resonated for me every time I looked at a reconstructed building during my time in Germany. Such is the power of human resilience. If so many cities could be reconstructed from rubble, and this country could rejuvenate itself so well, then perhaps there is a lesson for all of us to draw as individuals? I’m sure that at different points in our lives, we have lost faith in our ability to move past and recover from difficult times. But here, in a place that had lost so much but has managed to rebuild in spite of the scars, there is evidence for all of us. A year ago I was struggling with my writing process. Over a few weeks I had barely written a word of a new book which I’ve now completed (currently in editing stages). I was frustrated and sad and I’m sure that I took it out on my loved ones. When I look back now I know that I have come so far. The most important part of that was realizing that I needed to write in order to be happy, and the rest was more procedural – what kind of discipline I should set for myself and how best to enforce it. So far, I have succeeded although I will continue to refine my process over the rest of my life. Getting to this point was something of a struggle, but that does not even come close to the type of recovery that is possible – the type of recovery that I could see in every German city that I visited this week. No matter the challenge, it lies within our power to recover. We do not need to forget the past to move forward; rather we can remember it and honor it, but recover nonetheless.
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