What is really important? What touches us today – and will not go away tomorrow? It’s the things that have moved us since human existence: happiness, love, family, partnership, time, stress, loneliness, farewell, grief.
BILD columnist Louis Hagen*, coming from a German-Jewish family, sought answers to the eternal questions of mankind from poets, thinkers and researchers. And found a few answers that are amazingly simple – and yet can enrich our lives.
The summer of my childhood was infinitely long. It was the big holidays, and they were really big: always four weeks, always in the Black Forest, always on the Herzogenhorn, the second highest mountain.
Four weeks of freedom, four weeks outside. When it rained, you could hear the slapping of the thickly falling drops on the leaves; the air smelled different. I can still smell the scent today.
Tuesday of next week (June 21st) at 11.13 a.m. is the beginning of summer. Even if it’s just statistics – I’m looking forward to it like I used to when I was still at school. Every day an adventure. Build a cabin with friends. We had stolen the wood from the farmer next door. Paddling naked in the lake. Crickets chirp, a gentle wind blows around the hills, how beautiful the “summer-scented stillness in which I breathe here,” wrote the poet Ludwig Ganghofer. And he could have meant the summer of my childhood.
Time passes differently in summer. The measure is the minutes and hours that it is light. Where you can be outside. Breathe freedom, no stress. Don’t think about everyday life. Summer is always a dream. Some come true.
If being outdoors isn’t enough for you anymore, it might be the Amalfi Coast in western Italy with its famous mild lemons. Got my driving licence, drove to Spain in a VW – no problem back then in the summer. Over the Brenner Pass to Lake Garda or to Rimini, which we “distort” 1,200 kilometers as a matter of course. The main thing is to get out, see, hear and feel something else.
I wonder if that’s still possible today: getting rid of what weighs us down. Hide what worries us. Live simply. If something like that is possible, then now. In summer, which officially starts next week.
And maybe we will succeed in what the poet Joseph von Eichendorff described so incomparably beautifully in his summer poem “Mondnacht”:
“And my soul spread its wings wide, flew through the silent lands as if flying home.”
* Louis Hagen (75) was a member of the BILD editor-in-chief for 13 years and is now a consultant at the communications agency WMP. His texts are available as a book at koehler-mittel-shop.de.