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Strength An essay by Wolf Wondratschek. And what happens if you run out of strength? A train of thought. At full throttle. We begin our reflections on the topic of strength with the sunrise – even if in the half-light of the breaking day we are anything but awake enough to appropriately pay homage to the sun, this goddess. Come to think of it, where is she, actually? Where is her radiance, her energy, her warmth? A powerful northwest current gives us the weather report, bringing rain, powerful gusts of wind as well. Sound common sense tells us: Stay in bed! Who am I? We ask ourselves. Why get up? This is indeed another good start to the day. You have to set priorities, urges the woman to whom my heart belongs. And she does this as often and unmistakably as the boss who, if the rumour is true, will soon stand before the marriage altar for the third time, if there is such a thing in the Maldives at all. An impressive man, this boss. One with rare power of persuasion, which perhaps lies in the fact that he does not, not even in the face of the powerful competition at home and abroad, convey the impression that he loves the power and prestige it confers. Rather, the likely assumption is that he distrusts power, as well as those who practice it, some of whom he calls “the prisoners of power.” He has his secrets, I’m sure. For example, he always flies to Las Vegas for the great boxing matches; why else would that famous photo hang in his office behind his desk, the one of Muhammad Ali, who was still called Cassius Clay at the time, showing him in the pose of a victor over a supine Sonny Liston, appraised before the fight by all the experts as invincible? This is what happens to butchers if they mess with butterflies, he is supposed to have once said to a visitor from the United States. If you muster the courage to speak to him directly about it, he gladly provides additional information, which in a cryptic way is more than remarks on boxing. Like few others, he says, Ali sold the product that he represented well and profitably. He became a global brand, the undisputed market leader in his sector. You could only envy him his knack for having brilliant ideas. He was more than just a boxer, just as we men of business should be more than just capitalists. It can’t hurt to take note of that! Sometimes, when I see him and listen to him, I think I did everything wrong in life. The woman to whom my heart belongs is, in her own way, fascinated by him. She looks at him – and then me. Maybe I’m only imagining it, but I sense how I start to shrink under her gaze. Is this the hour of truth – or rather, the moment of truth? But the truth about what? It’s nothing new to make myself slightly crazy over all that is possible, over existential fear, fear of flying, and sometimes, long after midnight, when my thoughts defy my control and start to dance, over fear of death. I am a deserted station. I am the only contents of a plastic bag. Of course, I am not spared from air travel, unfortunately. I die deaths that I certainly know better than to confess. There it stands, the monster that I climb into. Never have I felt strength so threatening. It stands there, as if it must focus on an impossible task before it can start. What pilots do, I think, really cannot go well. We are beings who need firm ground under our feet. Us in the air, that is an invention on a par with blasphemy – and a crime. Then the engines rev until at full tilt. Nothing more to be done. We feel it. Full throttle. Full acceleration. It is this force that presses each of us into the upholstery of our seats. By now it is evening, quitting time. And it’s still pouring rain. We dream, even before we are asleep, that the world has patience with us, that it presents us with the most beautiful of all gifts: after making love with the woman to whom out heart belongs, to roll away from her body and to sink feebly into the pillows, finally appeased, finally at the end of all desires, finally complete. 73


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