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27 April 2007

The Road To Heaven Spirit

The story that I always tell my assistants is the one about the road to heaven, in which I explain that you will find happiness in your life, but only when you enjoy trying to reach for it. It is not heaven that will bring happiness, but the search for it. Don't forget to enjoy it when looking for it or you will miss the point.

In this photograph, I am bound for Germany. This was the first trip in a long time without the company of my usual traveling companion. I had been so occupied organizing the trip: where to go, who to meet, and how to get along in that country, that I totally forgot to think about whom would come with me. Who will guard the equipment when I need to go to the bathroom? Who will sit on the other end of the table when I am having dinner? Who will sit next to me when I try to find the way and whom to talk to during the next few weeks?

Then I remembered that Sophie, my eldest daughter, who was then almost thirteen years of age, had finished lessons and had a two and a half month holiday period in front of her. She said needed some time to think, but the next day she agreed to come. Thrilled, we started organizing things.

When she sat next to me in the car, she looked with me for interesting houses. Two days into a ten-day trip, she was setting up the camera for me (without me asking), and whenever the situation was right, she asked if she could take some pictures of the house herself, using a small Olympus Pen (the half frame, point and shoot) with a little flash.

She has experienced me knocking on doors, being rejected, getting welcomed and invited. And she has also seen the situations those people lived in, hardly known to her. We had dinner together every night and we slept in the same room. We played cards while watching Euro Sport and we went for a swim in the pool of the hotel. In the car we played The Doors and Deep Purple. We enjoyed every minute of it and I will never forget the experience.

That is the real “road to heaven” spirit. For that I feel grateful and rich.