Yesterday, on my daily way to the lab, I had one of these rare moments of insight.
You know, I'm commuting between the western and eastern centers of Berlin. The main axis connecting these centers from west to east, apart from the Straße des 17. Juni, consists of the Budapester-, followed by the Tiergartenstraße. The latter hosts several embassies, while the former is home for a few five-star hotels.
The park inbetween these axes is called the Tiergarten and is almost devoid of people at early hours. When you enter the park at the south-west, you'll experience the smell of wild beasts in the form of camels, rhinos and hippos. There's a beer garden 100 m to the west, built right on top of a sluice to complete the adventurous feeling.
At the time I was driving, however, there was not a single soul frequenting the beer garden, and all the beasts were still tightly asleep. I thus tried to enter the park noiselessly, to awake neither beast nor man. And indeed: the transmission of my bike is so silent that even birds won't blink.
A brilliant sun was rising, and a fine mist rose from the trees and meadows. I was flying through the park, self-propelled but effortless. A fox strolled across the clearing ahead. He heard my silent approach, turned, and watched me attentively but fearlessly. A magic moment: our eyes locked, and it almost seemed we had an understanding, me and the fox.
I exited the park, as usual, close to Potsdamer Platz. Thanks to the early hour, there was none of the buzzing activity surrounding this location otherwise. When passing Gendarmenmarkt, I noticed a lonely Rolls-Royce Phantom with royal insignia in front of the Hilton. The driver stood at attention and radiated arrogance. I couldn't help to be amused.
On my way back ten hours later, the Phantom driver was surrounded by Bentleys and Ferraris and looked more dignified than ever. Traffic at Tiergartenstraße was, as usual at that time, standing. There was a bunch of rattling Harleys and a Lamborghini gang which seemingly tried to settle the question about the loudest exhaust once and for all. In their book, this stunt is probably fun, but the ordinary peoples' faces in that traffic jam signaled frustration and anger to no small degree.
When entering the park, the sounds as well as the anger of the outside world subside. All people here seem to be quite content and even happy.
People create their own hell. And yes: the best things in life are free. 😉