Musings: Chocolate Heart, Razor Mind


When it comes to finding our way around the world, wearing your heart on your sleeve can give you whiplash. I’m sure we’ve all run into our fair share of negativity and heartache, and learnt painful lessons. But ultimately, fear is the kiss of death when it comes to the spirit of love, discovery and adventure.

A cold heart and a hard mind will insulate you from any hurt and pain, but it will also render you numb. Life would be a shadow, and weariness will set in. It’d soon become impossible to see beauty anywhere. On the other hand, it’s impossible to survive the savage wilderness of reality with a soft heart and a weak mind.

So how do we strike that precarious balance?

Remain a child at heart, but cultivate a questioning mind.

Hone that sharp, intuitive awareness that will protect you from ill-intention, but always take in the world with the wide-eyed wonder, curiosity and innocence of a child. I find this balance most gratifying not just when navigating our way through the world, but in making the most of life.

On the two-hour train ride from Frankfurt to Freiburg, I made a serendipitous connection with a 27-year-old German girl called Anaela. She had simply smiled, pointed to my book and asked what i was reading. And from there, we embarked on one of the more meaningful conversations I’d had with anyone in a long while.

Tall, red-haired and freckled, Anaela is completing her Masters in Music at Freiburg University and plays the harp. She loves art, has a boyfriend who is a curator in a museum, and comes from a fascinating family of actors, musicians and opera directors. She enjoys exploring new cultures and best of all, we see eye-to-eye on nearly every issue that mattered to us. We’re both liberal, believe in pursuing our passions regardless of what society deems ‘sensible’ jobs, and have causes we care deeply about. We also had so much to learn from each others’ experiences in social work. She linked me up with an orphanage in India and we both made a firm promise to work on something meaningful together someday.


When we arrived in the city, she made a detour and took me to my hotel so I wouldn’t get lost, and even brought me to her favourite cafe for a drink and cakes after I’d checked in. It was raining out, and we both cupped our steaming hot teas till they turned cold, lost in animated conversation. “I can’t believe this is the first time we’ve met! You feel like an old friend.” she smiled, eyes twinkling. Her hospitality and warmth toward a total stranger moved me so much. I was beyond thankful that the first person I opened myself up to there turned out to be such a kindred spirit, despite us growing up in such different parts of the world. One is not always so lucky, of course. But we could have easily parted silent strangers, never enjoying such a brief but profound connection, had we closed our hearts and minds that afternoon.

It made me wonder how many such memorable (possibly life-changing) encounters we miss out on each day because we overthink things. Or simply let people around us pass us by, faces in our gleaming devices. Of course it’s natural and sometimes important to be cautious in life. But knowing how to balance a quiet watchfulness with youthful spontaneity will keep us both safe, and constantly inspired.

After all, it’s moments like these that make all the difference between being a tourist always looking in from the outside, and becoming a true citizen of the world.

23 thoughts on “Musings: Chocolate Heart, Razor Mind

  1. Very nice experience. For some reason, a book opens up conversations while staring in a cellphone is closing you up against others around you. Even worse with headphones. Will remember this next time I travel by train or bus. Have fun in Germany. I live an hour south of Freiburg. Wonderful area.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, headphones are the ultimate conversation killer! i absolutely loved the region when I visited. A beautiful blend of nature, beautiful architecture and wonderful people. Thanks for leaving your thoughts, Bernd.


  2. What a lovely experience! Unfortunately, most of my experiences with strangers have been negative and even dangerous at times, so I’ve learned to just keep my head down and get home as fast as possible. It’s like finding a precious gem in a pile of muck when a chance encounter with a stranger turns into such a great, memorable experience, though. I hope you and Anaela meet up again someday to work on that project together.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Musings: Chocolate Heart, Razor Mind – 👁️ STREETPSYCHIATRY 👁️

  4. Wow! No mention of Valentine’s Day or the inconsequential expression of forced human love. Instead, a real look into a simple life where knowledge and shared hopes are of more importance. I too once sat in a cafe in Freiburg. I too dream of connecting with others in such a way that no one is a stranger .As I’m bound by my son’s illness that presents geographical restrictions, I know that wherever one sits, the world is our oyster. It’s waiting to reveal the pearls of our existence .

    Liked by 1 person

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