billi bierling female mountaineer and journalist from Germany

Life is beautiful – but not all the time

Those who know me also know my motto in life: Life is beautiful. However, in times like these, this motto is hard to believe and I sometimes wonder whether I can keep on saying it. Tragedies will always happen in our lives – they happen all over the world, however, we are often far away and detached from these sad events.

At the moment, of course, horrific pictures and news reach us from Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of people are reported to have died in the earthquake that shook the island last Tuesday. However, many of us watch the news on television, think about the people and their misery and then continue zapping and maybe forget about it for a while. This is how these disasters normally strike me but since I am currently working in the humanitarian world in Pakistan, I happen to know a few people who knew someone who died in Haiti. And this has brought the tragedy much closer to me.

My heart goes out to my friend Felipe, who has lost his loved partner Guido in the earthquake. When Felipe left Pakistan just before Christmas he told me that he was going back to New York and that his partner Guido would also finish his UN contract in Haiti and then live with him in the Big Apple. They were fed up with having a long-distance relationship. His words keep on echoing in my ears. He was so looking forward to finally being reunited with Guido and actually spending time with him after both of them had been working around the globe to save people from humanitarian crises. But Guido never made it to New York – he died in the earthquake.

An Inspiring Person

I don’t know how Felipe is keeping at the moment but it must be very difficult for him. However, I am sure he is surrounded by loving and caring people, who are there for him and help him to come to terms with his loss. He is a wonderful and inspiring person – a real humanitarian at heart – who attracts people with his positive energy and I really hope that his positive energy will get him through this.

Since the earthquake in Haiti, I have been thinking about our mental ability to cope with tragedies like this. I guess, our bodies can cope with injuries and heal but our emotions and psyche will always remain scarred after having experienced something like this. And even though tragedies of the scale of Haiti do not happen every day, tragedies in human lives happen thousands of times all over the world every day.

Our Smiling Security Guard

I have, for example, just received an email explaining that one of our security guards, Muhammad Javaid, was killed after having been hit by a car in front of our office building. He was trying to cross the road when a speeding car knocked him over. I have no idea what happened to the driver, however, the email said that Muhammad leaves behind a mother, a wife and five young children.

Muhammad Javaid, who was hit by a car and killed

This event made me very sad, as Muhammad was one of the guards, who always greet me with a huge smile and a loud “Good Morning” when I cycle into our car park. His tragic death and the difficult times his family is faced with now made me realise that even though disasters like Haiti touch our souls and make us realise how quickly lives can change, but small events like these can also shatter the life of one single family.

These difficult times are unfortunately part of our lives as much as the beautiful moments are, and even though I am feeling very sad and emotionally moved by these events I still believe that life can be beautiful – if not always.

4 Responses

  1. Rosemary in Irl said on January 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Its at times like this I start to question my faith in God.!!!

    Reply
  2. markus said on January 20, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Hi Billi,
    Tatsaechlich ist es so dass jeder Tag ein kleines Stueck mehr in den Rucksack legt
    Wir muessen deshalb mit all unserer Kraft die schoenen Dinge u Momente des Lebens geniesseb u in unsere Herzen aufnehmen – was manchesmal definitiv nicht einfach ist!!

    Umso gluecklicher koennen wir sein, diese Faehigkeit bzw den Charakter dazu zu haben

    Herzliche Gruesse
    Markus

    Reply
  3. Kate said on January 20, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Life is so precarious, that’s why it is so wonderful that you can still think it’s beautiful when it stinks too. Our thoughts are with you.

    Reply
  4. koji said on January 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    sigh…. 🙁

    Reply

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