The face of joy. A dream trip

For a workshop in 2019, Klara Dormröse and I wrote a dream trip story. The participants got a blank 40 by 40 cardboard cube and wax crayons to develop drawings related to the story about a shy stranger on an abandoned island.

The Tree

"What a glorious day," Wolfgang thought as he looked out the window. He lies still warmly covered in his bed. Shafts of sunlight fall through the thin curtain directly onto his clammy nose. The room around him looks strange. It is his first night in this new and yet familiar environment. A house not far from the dunes. He is on an island. Many fond memories are attached to this place. Here, he spent his first vacation with his parents and little sister. One image immediately comes to his mind when he thinks back. Climbing up into the treetop of a giant tree for the first time. What did this tree look like? He tries to visualize it more precisely...

Moment of Joy

He looked up at the treetop and felt tiny but at the same time incredibly strong, like an ant. He knew he now had to put, hand, after hand after foot, levering himself up and gently pushing his body weight up from his hips. If he levered out of his arms too much and they did all the work, he'd be out of breath real quick. And yet he wanted to be high up, to see the world below, to look far and forget everything else for a moment. A lukewarm wind ran through his hair while his hands reached for the branches. His fingers clawed at the rough bark while his feet tried to hold his weight upward. Beads of sweat stood on his forehead while he felt his arms and legs go limp. Laboriously and shakily, he carried on.

When the tree was gracious, forming a fork, he would pause like a monkey with all fours curled around the branch, trying to regain strength. Once, when he could already see the top very close in front of him, he stepped on a limb that broke away under his weight. With a hasty grip, he squeezed some branches. He was now only half a meter away from the top of the tree, trying to imagine that he was light as a feather. And with the last of his strength, he pulled himself up to the top. He hadn't even noticed that he was climbing with his eyes closed for the last couple of minutes. When he opened them, he looked into glistening light. He felt incredibly close to the sun and far away from the ground underneath. Unexpectedly, he had to laugh, gasping for air, sweat running down his face. He smelled and tasted the air. It tasted delicious, while his eyes could not get enough of the leaves swaying around. All of this he wanted to share with pleasure. He took pen and paper from his fanny pack to record the moment in drawings for his friends.


After this journey into his past, he finds himself lying in his warm bed. Phew, memories can sometimes feel so immersive. He has the feeling that there is a kind of room inside him that no one can enter and is his shelter. It's a place with drawers full of memories and feelings. In it, everything is possible.What does your shelter look like? And when you imagine it, can you also draw it?

One more Thing

Then he got out of bed and made himself a cup of tea in the kitchen. After brushing his teeth for far too short, he went for a walk. Behind the dunes, he sometimes walks back and forth for hours, taking photos of the island. Like the hand of a clock, he circles the island and takes pictures from many different points. His sister Nele also had a fantasy about this deserted island. She asked him once when they were walking through the dunes together: "Wolfgang, imagine you were here all alone on the island without mom and dad and me and all the other islanders. Imagine that, will you?" "Mhhhm" Wolfang responded. "So you're imagining it, right?" "Mhhh" "So please also imagine again that all the sand here is without any footpaths, yes? And that you are the only one who leaves his marks behind, yes? "Ahmhhh" So now imagine that you will stay there forever in the sand accompanied by the water, but forever alone. So now imagine you could wish for one thing. What would it be? Wolfgang thinks. So difficult. "You're not supposed to tell me. Just draw it, Nele says. So It can be anything you need or a special ability or a person. So anyway, you decide, okay?" Wolfgang starts to draw...

I come in Peace

And because his little sister is very persistent and often asks him things like: What if...., she spins the idea of the abandoned sandy island even further and tells him the following story:

"So, imagine it's nighttime. You've been on the island for a couple of weeks now. Whenever night falls, the sounds start. A chirping and roaring and the wind is also stronger and sometimes whistles. Of course, you're also a little scared and can't sleep because it's cracking and squeaking and whistling. So you lie there, probably in a self-made hut made of found wood chips and with a leaf roof on top.All of a sudden, there's a sawing sound. You look in all directions and see something moving dimly, moving towards you. And then you recognize a figure shuffling slowly. Sparkling eyes that are wide open and stuck in a shapeless body. You're all goosebumped and whipping your arms around. "I'm not going to hurt you. Please don't hurt me either!", are you stuttering. The creature is also wildly flailing its arms. Snorting and seemingly upset, it comes closer and suddenly stops. It's tilting the body, looking at your embroidered hoody with all the signs on it. It makes grunting noises but somehow sounds friendly.
"My name is Wolfgang.", you say. But then it starts flailing the numerous arms wildly around again, gazing at you with its angry-looking eyes.
So you begin to paint with your foot in the sand. The creature looks a little less evil now and stares with its crazy eyes into the sand while you draw."
Maybe, the wiggling monster only understands signs, no language? Make clear that you come in peace!


Wolfgang remembers all this as he walks around the island with his camera. Slowly Wolfgang realizes how hungry he is and sets off for his lunch. Wolfgang doesn't know this section of the island well and looks for signs of life from the island's locals. On a rocky path, Wolfgang finally bumps into a person. But he doesn't dare to approach the stranger. In general, Wolfgang is shy and taciturn: "yes", "no", "thanks" and "please" are the main words of his vocabulary. Instead, he has a sophisticated vocabulary of signs that express his world. He takes his notebook out of his coat pocket and shows the stranger his very personal sign for "hunger.