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Take a few Moments...
...to lean back. A good friend of mine often used the Austrian slang expression: "Na, Moment!" Which stands for "Just a moment", "Wait a minute" or "Excuse me", indicating reconsideration or even disagreement. A request to someone else to stop saying or doing something, to hold on and give it another moment of thought before proceeding further. Let's be calm and once in a while take time to think of situations, we would like to keep in good memory. Which occurrences meant something to us and why did they? OK, time's over. Let's go back to hectic life and work! Or would you really like to stay on this page for another while and consciously pause for a moment, take a deep breath and have a further look? Be my guest...
They say, people were very strict in the old days. Such were also the few stories I heard of my great-grandfather. One day an uncle of mine took me to the main street of my hometown. A dust cover of a construction set showed a picture of the historic house front from a time when my great-grandfather had had a clothes shop there, a "Kleiderhaus." That Bruce Springsteen song comes to mind, especially the line: "He'd tousle my hair and say, son take a good look around. This is your hometown..."
"Someday I'll just stay there - leave everything behind, walk away from home for good... (Irgendwann bleib i dann dort - lass alles liegn und stehn, geh von daheim fuer immer fort)" is a song by the Austrian trio STS that makes you longing for the faraway, be it a deserted beach or elsewhere. Back then, when I heard it for the first time on the radio, I didn't really plan to leave my hometown, a sheltered upbringing, and my youth behind.
Over the years living more and more in an international environment, due to the language barrier it is almost impossible to raise an understanding for local Austrian pop music that had meant so much to us when we were meeting to play cards over a beer or a glass of wine, or two, at least. Losing friends is hard, be it to illness or distance, or both. Keeping those days in good memory is one of the things I'd like to do on this page. Not forgetting your roots, where you came from and what you liked to do back then, wherever you may be now.
Construction set with house facade from the past.
Once in a while you would discover an old yellowed photograph with familiar faces. It may puzzle you, how much children look like their parents, come time and age. As early as a baby is born, everybody tries to find a commonality, like a nose from the great-grandaunt, a chin from the sibling, the eyes from a parent, or the thinker's brow of grandpa. Over time, characteristics in behaviour as well as in look develop further, and as soon as a face shows deep furrows, signs of despair, or laugh lines, signs of a sunny personality, one cannot be mistaken any more: That person looks like... whoever.
"Then something happened again", with Wolf Haas, contemporary Austrian author, who would always start his novels with the same sentence. Sad news arrived the evening of my return from a business trip to Germany, and I decided take off the afternoon of the following day. The last grand-aunt had passed away, just like her brother and two of her sisters in the three previous years. "As if they had agreed upon it", someone said at the funeral. A whole generation had vanished, although we know that it lives on in us and our own children.
As Christians we hope for them to be reunited in afterlife without any more quarrel, just as they quietly assemble around their parents in the photograph from a time around World War II, which I tried to fix by removing the crack that had covered half of my grandfather's face. While modern technology may help us to pep up an old picture and make it look fresh and - almost - as new, it cannot help us with one thing: Bringing those back we have loved and lost.
A family photograph from the 1940ies. Four kids died at high age in four consecutive years.
There are certain things, you wouldn't want to weight in gold. But there are some moments, where you may have fun washing the same...? What I did for my birthday - washing gold... sounds bad? Sounds great! Klondike, here we come! These happy days as a child. Try to hold them, don't let go. When little things matter so much and it is so easy to make others happily smiling. What is the definition of success? To be happy with what you have achieved, but still a little hungry to go on?
One day I received a post card from Mexico. Looking at the date in the post stamp, at first it appeared to have arrived very fast. Then I found out that it was one year late due to a strike of the mail delivery service! The card featured a black and white picture of the Gold Rush. The writer explained to me that the German "Goldrausch" was no accurate translation. The English term stands for hurrying to jump on the opportunity to get rich, rather than the fever and frenzy described by the German expression.
Maybe the card had been even "Missent to Melbourne" like all these packages in mailbags from the US, which I had seen at a post office. Also an expense bill, which I mailed back during an overseas assignment, wouldn't arrive for a while due to a detour to Down Under. "Greetings from the other Austria," as an Australian colleague had once put it! Quite popular by now are shirts with the print: "There are no Kangaroos in Austria!" Anyway, no worries, mate!
Washing gold, sitting on a cut down cherry tree.
Jump of Joy
Our oldest would get overly excited about taking a bath. Nearby picture was created without the aid of any graphics software, the camera lense just caught the boy up in the air. One can only try to image the big splash that followed immediately after. The older we get, the fewer the excitement, unfortunately. Only a few of us manage to preserve the spirit inside, they had since childhood.
How many people have forgotten over time how to laugh? Some people take life too seriously, always feel accountable, attempt to plan life as a project and may get disappointed about things happening outside their control and prediction. Others appear to jump through life with levity, playful like a young puppy, relying on others to clean up the mess behind them, which - if it doesn't happen - can result in a lot of stress. Being more relaxed is what we would consider a more southern mentality. "Don't worry, everything is going to be all right," may become a life motto, if you can be sure that there is always somebody behind you, who will somehow take care of things.
Another question is whether you are willing to take chances out of excitement or by conviction. There are people, who jump right into the middle of life, forgetting their fear over the fun of it. Although, occasionally they find themselves upside down, confused and helplessly stuck to events, which they can't influence. Then again, they may regain control and be the more happy. For only those, who have experienced rain, can enjoy the sunshine, really...
Excitement in the bathtub: Jump of Joy, followed by a big splash.