Morbid, I know, but you won't be bored
Over the past two weeks, I have felt myself sliding into a dissatisfied habituation with Berlin. I know the bus routes, I know the train lines, so even boarding a random train and having an adventure somewhere new has become difficult. The weather has been cold and rainy and it gets dark here around 4:00 these days, so when I walk on the sidewalk, I take up de Botton's original mindset that the street, station, and train are only the means to my final destination. When you step outside and recoil because the grey sky is spitting at you, your first thought is not to appreciate the beautiful architecture that you've already walked passed a hundred times before.
It's a shame that even if we have never stopped to look at a specific landmark, we know where it is and decide that there's nothing to see based solely on the fact that we have walked past it before! It took me a month and a half to finally look at a huge and colorful mural across the street from our apartment building. The entire wall is covered in people, landmarks from Berlin, and a giant shark eating money; it's an imposing and political piece of art, but it took me six weeks to realize that they were Euro-bills falling from the shark's mouth or even to see the painted four-story Fernsehturm.
There's a park with a pond across the street from the grocery store that I go to every few days, but the park is sunken and behind a wall, which makes it invisible from the other side of the street, where I always walked. One day last month, I decided to walk on the other side of the street, looked over the wall, and was amazed to find this park! It was all beautiful because the leaves were all changing colors and the view back towards my apartment over the pond was kind of breath-taking. I was so impressed that I ran to my room to get my camera and came back to take pictures, including the one above, of this park that is literally a three minute walk from my front door.
I know that I don't appreciate the sights around me like I should, and definitely not like I did at the beginning of the semester. I pass things like the shark mural and the secret park so often that I only ever glance at them without really looking. There's always the assumption that you've seen it before or you'll see it later, so nothing ever piques our interest. Now, however, I'm starting to realize that my time in Berlin is winding down. In four weeks, I'll be back in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I may never make it back to Berlin, especially not to live here again, so now with a time limit, everything is starting to look a little more endearing.
I look at the Fernsehturm these days with new eyes every time. I've always loved the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) above all other landmarks in Berlin, partially because it stands above all other landmarks as the tallest building in Germany and I can see it from almost everywhere else in the city. Now I look for it whenever I exit a subway station, to get my bearings and make sure that it's still there. One way to beat habituation: Look at everything like it's for the first time, or the last. Some day soon, I'll get a cab to the airport and stare at the TV Tower until it's invisible to me. I'm getting sentimental, I know, but a little sentimentality at least means that I will have some fond memories of my time here and I didn't spend the whole time ignoring the city I've been living in.