Munich: Reverence for life

I went to Oktoberfest in Munich a few weekends ago, and while my arms grew stronger from lifting massive glass mugs to my mouth, my mind grew stronger, too. At the bottom of a German beer, I found a new philosophy.

We arrived in Munich early on a Friday morning. After spending an entire evening in transit on German rails, we reached the city exhausted, dehydrated, un-showered, and hungry. So as the rational young travelers we are, we promptly headed to Oktoberfest (subsequent to braiding our hair in matching milkmaid braids).

Calling Oktoberfest a party is a gross understatement. I’m not even going to bother describing the world I walked into that hazy Saturday morning because no string of words would do it justice.

After marveling at the handsome German folk in their traditional Bavarian dirndls and lederhosen, and salivating at the scent of baking pretzels, we stumbled into a tent and ordered some beers.

Beer is comically large at Oktoberfest. You feel as if you’re in a cartoon—holding your glass mug with two hands to put your face into the beer to drink. My wrists were tired after three sips. But not only is the beer bigger and stronger, but it’s also very special.

Perhaps it was the mixture of my exhaustion, Oktoberfest innocence, and the effects of alcohol itself, but I felt amazing.

To borrow a phrase from German philosopher, Schweitzer, I felt a reverence for life. I discovered Schweitzer while reading my environmental philosophy homework this week and I feel that it applies shockingly well to my Oktoberfest revelation.

The original German phrase is “ehrfurcht von dem leben” and it translates to reverence for life. It’s not meant religiously, although the word connotes that religious tone, but instead it implies an attitude of awe and wonder. The etymological roots of ehrfurcht suggest a mixed attitude of honor and fear—which pretty accurately describes my feelings for German people at Oktoberfest, and really Oktoberfest itself.

But anyways, Schweitzer held the most fundamental fact of human consciousness is the realization that “I am life which wills to live, in the midst of life which wills to live.”

At Oktoberfest, I felt this reverence—this awe and wonder for literally everything.

Schweitzer’s philosophy suits me. Except he had this revelation while riding upriver on a barge in Africa and I had mine while on a carnival ride at Oktoberfest. But, it still works.

Anyways, ehrfurcht von dem leben and from this point forward I’ll never hesitate to express my wonder for life.

Milkmaid brigade at Oktoberfest-- Caroline, Me, Amy, and Casey

Milkmaid brigade at Oktoberfest– Caroline, Me, Amy, and Casey

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