Roland Dürre
Monday August 13th, 2012

Jolly, Old Shatterhand, Romeo and Juliet

Jolly gave me more than just “Sei nie gegen etwas“ (Never Be Against Something). I would like to thank him. And I would like to dedicate the following article to Barbara and all women!

Talking to Jolly and thinking about it afterwards broke down the last vestiges of mental prison walls I had been jailed in ever since I remember thinking.  Fortunately, however, said prison wall got a lot of cracks during the last few decades of my life and thus could be broken down with the help of my friends.

By now, I am sure that all my planning, my good intentions, rules and dogmas I adhered to and particularly the way I always wanted to “remain in control” did not gain me very much. Instead, they were actually a positive hindrance to me being happy. This is probably true for most people! I always suspected that matters were like this. Now it happened: I understood and can even explain.

And, again, it is so simple. Whenever I make a plan or have very specific intentions, the failure is already part of my mental concept. Along with the delight I find in bringing things to a conclusion, the fear of failure is mixed almost self-evidently. Or else the fear of not being able to meet my own standards. Such fear gives me pause and in difficult situations will predominate, thus taking away all my courage. I no longer want this!

Consequently, I will no longer give myself any more goals. I do not want to get better all the time, Nor do I want to be a hero. All I want is do the right thing. If I succeed in this, I will be happy and get stronger from the experience of delight. If I fail, all is also well. I tried my best, but matters are as matters are. What happened happened. And that is fine by me. Consequently, I will no longer find fault with myself and the world, but instead try to do the right thing the next time.

This means that I was a lot happier and freer over the last few years – especially free from fear. And now I even know why. Isn’t that fantastic?

Unfortunately, I was very much focussed on all this planning and systemic way of thinking. Here is how it came about:

My mother was a “displaced person”. Mind you, she insisted on not being called “refugee”. In the late 1940ies, after having been displaced, she had to work as a teacher in a truly Bavarian primary school. The natives did not take too kindly towards the intruders from the formerly Eastern German regions. After all, they were hard enough pressed to make ends meet themselves. Consequently, my mother either was or felt like she was made a victim of mobbing at school.

When I was born, she quitted working at school and put all her pedagogical competence to practice on me. Consequently, I learned to read at a far too young age. The library at home, however, consisted of practically nothing else but Karl May books that belonged to my father – most of them were still printed in old German script. Long before we were supposed to read at school, I had read far too much Karl May and then got terribly bored at school during the first year – which my teacher interpreted as lack of discipline and consequently punished by using physical violence.

And, naturally, the invincible hero Old Shatterhand – also known in many countries as Kara Ben Nemsi – became my great idol. He travelled to all countries of the world, knew all cultures and languages. He was unrivalled as a trapper and always interpreted marks correctly. Consequently, it was easy for him to always predict what was going to happen in the future and act prudently and clear-sightedly. And whenever he actually did make a mistake, he always corrected it in no time and in an ingenious way. And he always only wanted to do what was good.

This was the kind of hero I wanted to be – and I also had no greater longing than to have a friend like Winnetou. But since that did not materialize, I took refuge in playing soccer on all kinds of meadows and dodge ball in back alleys. And I started looking for new idols…

At school, I learned that homo sapiens is basically noble and great. He is the Lord of the creation! And I also learned that the main difference between humans and animals is that the former can think! And think ahead! Humans, so I was told, can actually plan how much food they will need to see them through the winter and then store accordingly. The poor animals have to rely on their instincts.

That sounded logical to me. But I was also treated to religion. I learned that prayer makes everything well again. After confession (I was catholic), I had the very best of intentions. I wanted to do better in so many ways. Of course, the good intentions were always in vain. I felt guilty. So what else remained for me in order to retain a little bit of self-respect but to become a great hero and a huge success?  Except that I did not know the meaning of the word “success”. But I also wanted to be “good”. And I found the Golden Rule (Goldene Regel) gave me something to strive for.

Today, I know that much of this was just a hindrance. I took very much far too seriously and developed (unnecessary) anxieties. The one thing I wanted to avoid was being a failure. The only thing that saved me was the basic trust I probably learned during my first year in life. Later, when I was grown-up, I deviated from the belief in planability step by step. The same is true for good intentions and religious belief. I ignored rules and broke dogmas. And I proceeded to feel better and better.

And in retrospect, I have to say that the good decisions in my life were all made without doing a lot of evaluating, planning and taking whatever dogmas or requirements into consideration. But woe when I made intelligent and complex plans, looked for rational reasons or did theoretical balances. Those were always the projects where everything went wrong!

Consequently, here is what I have to repeat:

Forget rules and dogmas. Do not plan. By all means do not try to generate something ”normative“. Live! Be courageous and happy! Shed your fears. Never be against something. Instead: be in favour of something.

Ever since I am getting better and living up to these principles, I am living a better life.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
In an enterprise, too, strategy will then no longer mean developing and/or wishing to influence the normative process. It is better to just let things run and try to do the right (good) thing while refraining from doing the wrong (evil) thing. But I will write another article on this in my entrepreneur’s diary!

P.S.1
A short time ago, we saw a dance show at the Prinzregententheatre, played by the Gärtnerplatz theatre group. It was the danced version of the Romeo and Juliet story. It was just so beautiful! And I suffered even more than usual when watching Romeo and Juliet during the crucial scene. After all, I knew that Juliet only seemed to be dead. Just Romeo did not know and thus he will commit suicide because of his beloved’s death. And I thought: why could Romeo not have been as wise as Old Shatterhand. He would have found signs indicating that his beloved was not dead, but had instead saved herself for him using a cunning trick. And, of course, Old Shatterhand as Romeo would have found a way out – and there could have been a wonderful “Happy End”.

Romeo, however, did the right thing. Just like later Juliet did the right thing. Because otherwise there would never have been this heart-rending story of “Romeo and Juliet”.

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