Walking along the river Tejo, lost in thought and obsessed with finding the perfect perspective to shoot the wonderful twilight scene of the river, the bridge and the Jesus monument, a sudden realization struck me: The reason why I ended up in Lisbon for now was the decision I made months ago to leave my beloved, exciting, promising Vienna-life behind. Lisbon is the first step outside my comfort zone.
And then, in that very moment, I fell on my buttocks. I had stepped on a spot covered in wet and slippery algue and landed on my rear. Not subtly, not gently, and not unnoticed. The next moment, I was surrounded by a group of young Brasilians, staring at me with terrified looks on their faces, followed by several occurences of the highly sophisticated dialogue “Tudo bem?” – “Sim, tudo bem!” Then a hand pulled me up, and we all started laughing and hugging each other, wishing each other a good stay in Lisbon.
Life outside the comfort zone is not always comfortable. It can be hilarious, absurd, ironic, educational, and sometimes purely magical.
That coincidence by the Tejo was just a hilarious example. But it’s a fact that I am outside my regular, well-known bubble. On Saturday, I will fly back to Austria. However, I do not have a flat there that is “my place”, I don’t have a job where I am required to show up on a regular basis. I don’t know how much time I have left to pack my bags for Mozambique, to organise the last documents I need, to arrange good-bye meetings with all the people that I will miss. I am responsible to find my way around and “my spot” in Lisbon, to make my time here useful and pleasant, and there is absolutely no protocol that I can follow. And then…I have seen amazing sunsets, and dolphins, and the rocky beaches of the Atlantic coast. I have spent two hours running along the coast in pouring rain, and I have experienced the euphory when I finally reached the Cais do Sodre where I could get onto the metro. I found post-its with good-bye-notes on my bunkbed from people I had briefly met at various hostels. I have learned that people in general don’t care who I were and what I had in Vienna, and even less about the reasons why I gave it all up…and that they are still interested in the story I have to tell. And I learned that at times, I misjudge and underestimate people in the most arrogant way. So I make a promise, here and now, that I will do my best to change that. To never judge anyone before listening to their story.