I got my last one almost a year ago star-Voice written. The Russian invasion of Ukraine had knocked me out mentally. I was tired of funny sayings and encouraging columns. But now the sun of confidence is back.
By Frank Behrendt
Anyone who knows me knows me with a microphone. Late at night at company parties, I always fervently belted out “Hello again” by Howard Carpendale, who has been on a farewell tour for what feels like 50 years. In his well-known hit there is a passage of text that I have had to think about a lot in the last few days:
“I’ve been without you for a year
I needed this time to myself
I may be someone else
As the one who left you then”
Madness: It took me almost a whole year to create my star– to make voice sound again. From February 24, 2022, I and my wife spent a long time almost continuously in front of the news channels on television, followed all the push messages on social networks, the fearless Paul Ronzheimer, who reported daily from Ukraine, was practically part of it Family.
The more pictures and information from the crisis area we absorbed, the worse it was for us. At dinner, the children no longer asked what was on the excursion plan for the weekend, as they used to, but what would happen if Putin detonated a nuclear bomb. A topic that has never come up in our ideal family world. After all, for me and my boomer generation that grew up in peace in Europe, the nuclear threat was more of a relic from old James Bond films. In the end, the noble British agent always managed to save the world from some villains and their weapons of destruction anyway. But where was James Bond in the real world now that everyone needed him so desperately?
My mother called often and was reminded of the darkest images of World War II when she saw the miles of military convoys rolling towards the Ukrainian metropolis of Kiev. When she heard the sirens in the Today Journal, she covered her ears. My youngest daughter reported about new refugee Ukrainian classmates who started crying in the middle of class. “What can you say to them so they won’t be sad anymore?” asked my little one. I had no answer. As on so many things.
I brooded more and more, my laughter became more tortured. It was a leaden time. The once life-affirming and cheerful “guru of serenity” had mutated into a sad dumpling. I tried to fight it. Our dog became a helpful therapy friend. “Fee”, the little French bulldog, who has been enriching our family life for seven years and has endless love for her pack, kept nudging me. As if to say: “Come on sad person, let’s go out and have fun in the beautiful nature.”
Free your Mind
The Friedenswaldchen – the green oasis in the south of Cologne is really called that – became our magical happiness comeback place. The dog romped around, the sun warmed us and we got into conversation with many people. I realized that I was not alone with my heavy thoughts. The exchange was good and every dog lap was a step back on the way to the buried personal happiness in life.
My wife and I started cutting down on the news barrage. Sometimes we stopped watching the news and preferred to play board games with the kids. Her laughter was music, her joy energy. We only watched series that had positive spins. Crime fiction disappeared from our watch list. When real people died in a country not far from home, we couldn’t bear to see fictional dead people in crime scene episodes or Friday detective stories.
The news withdrawal felt good. We drove to beautiful places, “just get out, clear your head”, as my wise mother always says. I made photo books with the most beautiful highlights of our previously always so cheerful family life. We listened to our favorite childhood radio plays together and sang along to the signature tunes at the top of our lungs:
“We are the five friends,
Julian and Dick, Anne and George and Timmy the dog,
We are best friends, yes!
we stick together
When it gets exciting
Then we’re in!
Julian, Dick, Anne and George
And Timmy the dog, yes!”
Whenever the part “and Timmy the dog” came up in the chorus, ours would bark. A delicious fun. I practiced the title song of the Bibi Blocksberg radio plays on the piano and impressed my daughter with it. And in the evening I fell asleep with a sequence of the three question marks. Following Jupiter, Peter and Bob’s adventures in a Rocky Beach junkyard was always more reassuring than listening to Vladimir Putin’s latest insane slogans. My learning: A journey back often helps to better endure the present and to build a mental foundation for the future.
Confidence is back
In the meantime I’m the “old man” again. Cheerful and looking forward with confidence. The glass is now never half empty, even if there is only a tiny little drop in it, for me it is full again. Still, I don’t ignore the realities, because it’s really bad that the war is still going on.
But I’ve learned to deal with it. There have been crises, there are and there always will be. But life must go on and goes on. And there are still – and again and again – wonderful positive moments that make our world lovable and worth living in.
My mother sent me an old book from my deceased father’s bookcase as inspiration: “Legends about Martin Luther and other stories from Wittenberg” is the name and was written by Volkmar Joestel. He also reports on the legendary sentence that Luther is said to have once said: “If I knew that tomorrow the world would end, I would still plant an apple tree today.”
According to the author, this saying cannot be proven to be true of Luther. Joestel suspects that it was probably put into the mouth of the reformer in the difficult situation after the Second World War, which oscillated between despair and hope. Doesn’t matter. He’s still good and the epitome of confidence.
So I planted a tree. No apple tree, but an olive tree. May it grow and prosper and please my grandchildren.