So the greatest realisation is that we know nothing. That society and the world are wholly incomprehensible and that we are completely incapable of understanding them no matter how hard we might try. As our
incompetence is close to perfected we are left to a life in ignorance
because we are not even capable of surrendering our egos, to accept and live out this most banal simple and absolutely basic truth.

We must walk.


The big, white letters of the Swarovski sign shine towards me in the dark, so I know that Innsbruck is getting closer, because it is in Wattens, right outside Innsbruck that Swarovski has its factories where every day thousands of people are engaged in the production of crystal glass. From Wattens they are sent all over the world where they are desired, luxurious objects. Seven trains and fifteen hours from Berlin. I do not know where I am going to sleep, a hotel will be too expensive, and whether cheaper alternatives exist in this city, is unknown to me. A park bench would be completely acceptable, as my goal is to travel simply, without any kind of excess and with only what is necessary. But the clouds are hanging low and earlier some drops were running across the train window. At least the air is fresh and a little bit cooler, it was stifling in some of the trains because they are all hermetically sealed and offer no alternative when the air conditioning is out of order.

Tomorrow we will start walking and we will walk far.


To get up from the valley and up high was easy, because the road was easy, but it was heavy. It was the first day, the day that rips open everything that has lain still for too long. After a good hour of walking about in Innsbruck I found a hostel last night, the receptionist did his best to keep me there and to keep us awake for as long as possible. It must have been the unsocial aspect, the forced solitude of his job that made him so talkative. Got the last things that were missing for walking in the city today; a rain cover for the backpack, compass, map. After an hour’s walk to the outskirts of the city I came to smaller towns, villages and after a while also farms. One would think that the surroundings would become less sterile as I got further away from civilization, but until now Austria has given the impression of being unnaturally clean and tidy, even where people have had less influence on it. Maybe nature has shaped the people here, rather than the other way round. Everything has been constructed solidly, simply, rarely with exaggerated use of ornaments or decorations, the practical concerns are always decisive and most important. Having gone tired of the paved road, after some hours I took the bus for five or six kilometres

and thereafter the cable car up to the first stop. After walking for almost two hours straight up the alpine slope I finally reached the tree limit. The indescribable view. The real silence. I was tired even before I started, both mentally and maybe also as a consequence of that, physically. Now I am exhausted, the muscles behind my left knee are aching, but not in a good way. Tomorrow comes the longest and heaviest distance. I walk and hope my body can bear it.


Against my will I started the day already at six. To convince my body that it is supposed to sleep is difficult when twenty others try to do the opposite. I started walking quite early, I was the first to leave the cabin and had breakfast on the way. I suffered through the first two hours, convinced that this journey had come to its end before it had really started. But after having reached the second top, there were six of them in total today, I felt the energy coming. The rest of the walk went by without any problems. Now eating the “Bergsteigeressen”, which means mountain climber food, and which is being sold as the cheapest alternative at all the official Alpine association cabins for those who cannot or do not want to treat themselves to more expensive alternatives. I feel rather empty but at the same time peaceful in a totally different way. There is a calmness in these mountains that I hardly have felt in any other place. Even though the mountains back home are close to it, there is something special about this height that literally raises the atmosphere to a different level. No, it takes us to a different level in the atmosphere in which we are staying. That mountain village in Indonesia, at the foot of the volcano, Bromo, had a similar calmness, where time is a totally different concept.

I know nothing about that which I thought I knew the most, that I am anything other than that which I have always imagined that I am. I know nothing about solitude, about the simple things, humility, silence, contemplation. I do not know how to acquire knowledge about this, and least of all do I know whether I would be capable of learning it.


Easy distance today, lots of energy, landscapes that, that what? That are totally insane. I have difficulties grasping it, understanding it, lacking any basis for comparison. I have taped above and under my knee, it helped, and apart from stiff muscles and a sunburned face everything is fine. Three days behind me, two ahead, and a wish truly to experience what silence is. What exists there that can be given by nothing else, is it just a cliché, a fantasy?

To arrive at the point where we do not walk, do not rest, do not write or do not do anything at all is almost an impossibility, we balk against it, consciously but probably mostly unconsciously. It is fear, most of all fear of ourselves, because when we do, then we know, at least that is what we want to believe. What will I be if I stop doing, talking, thinking?

I walk, I travel, so that I can forget, so I do not have to think, because in my thoughts I find nothing. If only I walk far enough, travel far enough, I will get to where I am supposed to be.


The beginning of the day was tough, and the following hours were not any easier, but then I did push the limits as far as possible, was about to take a break but wanted to know that I could do the whole stretch without stopping. It worked, four and a half hours was far better than the planned six, where the power to do it came from I do not know, did not know that I carry in me the capacity to do something like that. Carry might be the right word, not a power that I possess, but rather convey, that works through my body.


I went up with the sun, bid the others farewell and started walking at half past seven, had the greatest part behind us after two and a half hours of intense walking, most of it on well-prepared tracks. It was nice to get back below the tree limit, dense, peaceful and sheltered forest in contrast to hard rocks and bare (but extremely green) mountain sides. The mountain is open, free but also hard, demands all your attention. I sat down before going down, looked at the valley and became unsure whether I wanted to go back there. Wanted to go back there, went back there, but will stay up there, in a different dimension, but in this world.

I did not walk across the Alps, I ran, gave everything I had and did not rest until I knew that the goal of the day was reached. Actually we all ran. From cabin to cabin, because if we did not run, then everything would stop. So on the way to the destination I forgot the road, the real reason why I walked.

It takes time to learn to walk slowly.