Why the fall of the Berlin Wall had an Effect on Me
Berlin Wall: An Epiphany
Life Lesson Learned: The Hard Way
The Berlin Wall was a former barrier surrounding West Berlin and symbol of the Cold War, built on August 13, 1961. It was 96 miles (155 km) long with barbed wire barricade and concrete wall at an average height of 11.8 ft (3.60 m). It was designed to separate West Berlin from East Berlin. The East Berlin was controlled by Russia. It was in stark contrast to the West Berlin side.
The Berlin Wall was erected in the dead of night and for 28 years kept East Germans from fleeing to the West. Its destruction, which was nearly as instantaneous as its creation, was celebrated around the world.
The Berlin Wall has long since disappeared from reunified Berlin. Memories of the Wall, however, are still very much alive, and many of the visitors who come from all over the world are disappointed or surprised to find that so little remains of Berlin’s most infamous structure. The German border fortifications have lost their power to terrify and are being preserved for future generations. A moment of silence can help visitors grasp the message of the memorial sites dedicated to people who died trying to cross the Wall.
I went through Check Point Charlie December 25, 1989 and proceeded directly to the Brandenburg Gate where the Berlin Wall was located. As a simple tourist on a 90 day Eurorail Pass (unlimited First Class Train travel), I was curious to see what all the excitement was about people going over and through the Berlin Wall.
When I arrived at the imposing thick concrete Wall with barbwire on top of the over 10 foot high wall, I noticed candles burning, people crying and singing. Some people were banging on the concrete Wall obtaining chips from the Wall. The mood was somber, yet festive.
The sun was rising on a cold Christmas day. I was alone. I was on a journey of disappointment. I have just filed for divorce from a 9-year marriage from my best friend. She was the first person I could be authentic and be myself. We shared everything. We worked together. The reasons for the divorce are not important for this article. I was feeling I did not need anyone. I was self-contained. My world as I knew it was destroyed. I had in addition, just lost millions in the last big recession of the ’86 – ’89 era. I was crushed. I wanted to be alone… I needed to sort out my priorities. I was born very poor and had thought money would supply everything I needed. It did not… I had learned a valuable lesson. There were more life lessons I had to learn – the hard way…
The scene and environment around the Wall began to affect my thinking and perceptions… I became reflective. I borrowed a hammer and began to bang on the Wall. After many repeated blows, I obtained pieces of the Wall.
I leaned against the Wall and an “aha” learning moment began… I began to realize the importance of freedom, how we take for granted our choices and actions; how man’s inhumanity is cruel and dangerous if focused for the good of a few, rather than the good of the many… I began to understand the importance of “moderation.” I began to integrate the idea and notion of what Shakespeare said, “…to thine own self be true…” must be tempered with the concept of compromise. To be true to myself can be harmful to others if I am truly selfish, being true to me. I must balance my needs with others. I became aware of the dynamic life balances of the many facets of the life process. I finally realized life is not black and white. Life presents infinite shades of gray…
As my “awareness” was being processed, the moment became significant. My surroundings were more vibrant. I looked through enlightened eyes. The beauty of the sunrise was surreal. I was experiencing a dawn of a new awareness. My personal growth was in-sync with my environment. My “new beginning” was being birthed as I reflected. My “layers of realty” were focused…
In this reflective frame of mind, I was euphoric. I looked around and nothing had changed, I had changed with my new awareness. I wanted to share this huge surge of personal growth. I was lonely. There is a huge difference in being alone and being lonely. I was made aware of my need to share. I needed someone… I needed a significant other. I needed to vulnerable; I needed to invest my persona into/with my significant other. My life process had created another chapter of my life.
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