St. Helens To Stuttgart: Little Green Men.

Stuttgart is sleepy, still, silent and serene.

My first impressions on visiting St. Helens’ twin city last autumn were exactly that and after only two days of being back here this spring, my impressions remain the same.

Rebuilt and redeveloped after the war to stand as it now as a stronger, smooth functioning city, it’s calm underbelly is what I feel more when I walk it’s streets.

A city where an unspoken rule of walking on the left hand side of the pavement seems a little too regimented until the discovery of something similar at the traffic lights. The pause in traffic automatically and subconsciously prompts me to cross, regardless of whether the small red and green men tell me to do so.

I find myself almost rushing, with no real reason, to the other side of the road. Facing me are patiently waiting locals, students, businessmen and children, all happy to adhere to the little green man… when he finally decides to flash.

I’m witnessing long pauses in traffic and start questioning what’s happening. Why aren’t these people crossing the road? Isn’t that why they’re standing there? Waiting there?

By the time I’ve crossed and passed the people still waiting, I turn back, wondering what I’m missing, the traffic stops again, the little green man finally makes an appearance, and the group of people at the crossing all begin to cross the road and continue with their journeys, just like me.

It’s here that it dawns on me, those people were simply waiting. Taking their time, maybe enjoying the silence but simply waiting. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, they were also probably just avoiding a €60.00 fine as it turns out; jaywalking is not something that’s taken lightly here in Stuttgart.

Nevertheless, as regimented as this may seem, it gives an opportunity to be still, just for a moment.

In a world quite often consumed by work, deadlines and timescales, it’s easy to allow those elements of our work lives to seep into our personal lives.

Germany is sometimes depicted as an ordered, disciplined and again, regimented country as a whole, but what I’m experiencing here so far, is that although this may be true, ironically, these unspoken rules are also providing small, subtle opportunities and moments to be simply still.

It is this, which I’m looking forward to experiencing more of, and adapting to whilst I’m here.