April 2, 2010
I feel like I’ll never be able to do enough. It’s the end of my around the world trip and I have a plane ticket home in four days but I feel like I’m not satisfied because there’s so much more to see. I wonder what will happen when I look back on my life and wonder if I’ve done enough, if I learned enough and discovered enough and saw enough. I guess it will only matter up until the point of death, when I won’t be aware of anything at all. I wish I had traveled the world and found that it’s a more beautiful place than I could have ever imagined, but instead I just feel like without significant changes we’re all going to be doomed. But, I feel like I’ve also learned a good deal about the transitory nature of things and so anything good or bad is sort of moot because it will go away soon enough. So even if we are doomed in the course of a universe’s lifetime, it won’t matter at all because things will continue without us.
Not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself immensely. One of the previous participants in the Biomes of the World trip told me to enjoy every minute of it, but then corrected herself and said appreciate it. I think at the time, it would have been impossible to appreciate every moment because there were times where I was so unbelievably uncomfortable that my only thoughts were how to alleviate my discomfort. But then, in retrospect, I probably love those moments the most because of a combination of bragging rights and a sense of accomplishment.
Yesterday we went to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration/labor camp about two hours outside of Hamburg. We began by walking around the grounds, seeing the huge mounds that held thousands of bodies. We saw Anne Frank’s grave. We saw the memorial to the dead. We walked through the woods to the Russian POW camp, and saw the mass graves there. The atmosphere was completely creepy; I’m so glad we visited during the day. Afterwards, we walked through museum. The walls were lined with monitors that played videos of holocaust survivors, and pictures of the atrocities. Last night, whenever I woke up at night, all I could think about were the videos of dead, emaciated bodies being bulldozed into pits, and being flung into piles.
It was just awful. You can hear about terrible things your entire life, but you cannot comprehend them until you have a first-hand experience. The same is true of India, or Africa, or of climate change. You have to be there to understand the enormity of the issue. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to understand the world more thoroughly, even if I just barely glimpsed it. As much as I look forward to seeing my friends and family and being back in familiar surroundings, I keep dreading April 6th because I don’t want to leave my friends here, and I don’t want to return to stationary life.