Here’s the thing. I’ve been a lazy bum the last two weeks. I haven’t written a thing on this blog. I’ve been sleeping a lot, throwing the duvet over my body at the end of the day and closing my eyes. It has been warm under those sheets.
I have had days of self-reflection. There have been days when I looked out my window into the gloomy sky watching pigeons fly. I’d stare at the dome shaped building like a child admiring something it can’t place a name to. I don’t remember the things that took a seat in my mind during those moments.
On some evenings after work, I’d cook. I’ve made beef samosas, I’ve grilled pork and glazed my chicken with honey. I’ve made ugali. I’ve made some nameless stuff from wheat. I even took some of what I cooked to a girl that I like. Maybe the way to a girl’s heart in Germany is through her stomach. Who knows? A guy’s got to try, right? How else will he find out?
On other evenings, I’d get back home, pick a bag of paprika crisps, sit on my couch and Netflix. Easy stuff.
Writing has been far from my list of things to do. And the more I stayed away from it, the easier it got for me to justify why I couldn’t write. Inspiration flew off the rails, words vanished, letters became difficult to locate.
Two Sunday ago, the sun was reflecting on the glass of the building across my apartment. The weather was perfect for an outdoor experience. I went to a football game. I had no ticket to watch the live game so I sat at the bar. Multiple screens. I sat with my beer at the head of a table, watching the game, sipping what I could.
It was a nail-biting match. The football club of Darmstadt, the City in which I’m currently living in, played with a man down. He got a red card because of a bad tackle on an opponent. We scored and played the rest of the game parking the bus, putting in a solid defence. We won. And the Germans bought me more beer. They inducted as a fan of The Lilies. That’s the nickname of our football club.
One fan bought me an arm band. It’s written on, “Du musst kämpfen jetzt erst recht.” It says, “You must fight now more than ever.”
It’s a message of hope, of resilience. It’s a never give up message. It says keep going. It’s encouraging. And I was told the story of where that quote came from.
This team had a youthful fan, Jonathan Heimes who always showed up for The Lilies’ games. He had cancer. He cheered the team on. He drove the players to give their best. He told the team and everyone else, “Du musst kämpfen.” He became a motivation. The Lilies went from the 3rd football league, to the second and then got promoted to the 1st league. For two seasons, they played against giants of football like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. They fought.
Johnny succumbed to cancer in 2016 at the age 26. I’m writing this piece today on what should be his 30th birthday. His memory keeps the team going. There is a stand at the stadium named after him.
When you feel low or when you are about to give up on something important and worth so much, kämpfen. If the fight doesn’t end in your favor, at least you’ll know you didn’t let it pass without giving it an extra push. That’s probably how I got to write this post. Kämpfen.