The Berlin State of Mind

Berlin is an identity. It’s the capital of Germany and a city in Europe, but it transcends those things. It’s a state of mind. I moved here a year ago – not for a job, not for a lover, not for any official reason, but simply because it’s Berlin. I identify with this place – this idea – and now it feels like home. For creative people, the journey naturally leads here. These pictures are how I see Berlin, through fresh eyes of the inspiring city.

“Where are you from?”

It’s the question I hear most often when traveling. And now that I live in a new country, I engage in this topic all the time. When people ask this, what do they really want to know?

“New York” is my usual response. I moved to Berlin from Brooklyn, and sure, I identify as a “New Yorker.” But I was born in California and spent my first 22 years all around that wonderful state. Which of these places gives a better sense of my identity? Should I just say I’m “American”? I feel like that word says too much, or almost nothing.

Really, we are all the sum of our unique journeys. Some people stay in the same place their whole lives and the question is easy for them. But for those of us who have become locals of multiple places, it’s a bit trickier. We are an amalgam of influences.

“And what do you do?”

That’s usually the next question. It’s another question I’ve always struggled with answering confidently. Maybe because I don’t have a proper, legitimate “career.” I create things, specifically words and pictures. I’ll call myself a writer and artist. But these titles must be worn with some reservation. Maybe they sound funny because they are words we’re meant to somehow “earn.”

In the USA – a place so obsessed with work and success – these things can consume you and overwhelm you. It’s partly why I left. Berlin is freer, free from the constant chase of “success”, from the idea of being “the best.” It’s less concerned perhaps with identifying people by their job, because we aren’t limited by how we “earn a living.” We just live.

What we’re passionate about, and how we spend our time: these things are what most interest us, aren’t they?