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On expectations, doubts and realisation…

… what does the famous Oxford English Dictionary say about these words?

Expectation

“A strong belief that something will happen or be the case.”

Doubt

“A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.”

Realisation

“An act of becoming fully aware of something as a fact.”

What has this got to do with me? It’s quite simple: Already on day seven of my journey through Europe I have got the realisation that I will never fulfil my expectations and I always will struggle with doubts. If you now think it sounds way too negative: it’s not. It’s just a simple truth I became aware while having a lot of time to think about what I’m doing here. Still to awkward?

OK, let’s go back a couple of days to the start of my journey. I’ve got a lot of good wishes from friends for me and my project, some personally, some via mail, text massage, Facebook or whatever. Most of them – if not all – included in the one or the other way the phrase “… hope your trip fulfils your expectations…”. That’s absolutely normal and I think I would have said the same to someone who goes on such a trip… however, somewhat surprisingly I’ve recognized that this does not fit. I’ve quickly realised that I’m not sure what my general expectations for this journey were or – if I had some expectations in certain cases – that I could abandon them right from the very first day I arrived in Greece.

Those few known expectations were related primarily to my photography. Would I be able to implement the photographic ideas of participatory observation and documentation I’ve had before? Never! Would I be able to get at the end something like a photographic story that shows who the Europeans are – at least to a certain extent? No way! In principle I knew this before but I have been very successful in suppressing those thoughts. Then, when I walked the first time with my camera through the streets of Igoumentisa without making even one photo I realised how idiotic and ridiculous those expectations were. How could someone make a participatory observation without being a participant? And how to document something when you don’t know what’s going on, where you are, etc…? Therefore you must stay much longer at a place than just for two or three days. This insight made me doubt about the whole project and resulted in a 24-hour depression.

Fortunately, it first comes always differently and secondly, never as you think. That does not mean that I will be able to resolve the contradictions that I have just been talking about. However, other chances and unexpected opportunities will open up and the only thing to do is to take them. If I will not be able to do the work I’ve hoped for, I only have to change my perspective and to adapt my work to the available range of possibilities.

Already on the very first day in Greece I found myself spending the whole evening and having dinner with a refugee family from Syria – something that was repeated the following day. And today I’ve had a short visit of a project working for and especially with refugees and Greek locals here. I will try to make a short documentation about their great work and I will write more about this within the next days…

What I am really trying to say I would like to express with a line out of a song of the German singer Herbert Grönemeyer, even though I’m not sure if the literal translation into English will work:

“Life comes from the front.”

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Day 12… – The Europeans

  2. Dolittle says

    Where ever you go you allways take yourself with you- How did you ever thought you’re getting rid of doubts? 😉 and anyway what boring life would that be? Keep on looking for what is in front of you, take the time you need. You have several month and it might be even more insightfull to see Europe through the eyes of non-europeans…

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