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My Schiller

During my studies of German philology, I came across a few sentences in Goethe's biography that shed light on his relationship with Schiller. I read that after his initial successes as a poet, Goethe had increasingly mutated into an administrator at the duke's court, and his subsequent literary outpourings were received favourably, but without concerning amounts of enthusiasm on part of the readership. But when the acquaintance with Schiller turned into a genuine, productive friendship, everything changed again, and Goethe was inspired to new literary exploits. Whether all that really happened, I do not know of course, but the story stuck somehow with me.


It was a miracle in the first place that I started photography at all. A series of coincidences enabled me to make a bold attempt to work as a photographer. From small and inconspicuous scenes that I observed and photographed on the street or in cafes, I built a world for myself that seemed special to me and that I could therefore be a witness to. The interest in my photos initially exceeded all my expectations. The promising beginning made me believe that I was on the road to success. But time passed and at some point I had to admit to myself that despite many attempts, the big breakthrough had not come. As beautiful as it was to do photography, over the years the economic worries wore me more and more down, began to cloud my joy of creating and started to influence my art. I did what had to be done, hung up photography and shortly thereafter my "bread and butter" job would find me.


 It was the right decision at the time. For me, for my relationship, for my growing family. In any case, I soon became as happy as one can be, even without photography. Maybe it was this happiness, maybe the challenges of my work, but without realizing it, over time even I myself lost interest in the heroines and heroes of my photography. I stopped looking for them, even seeing them, I lived in my own reality and it was enough for me. It was also more than apparent that the world appreciated my organizational and business talents much more. But with the years I noticed I was still missing something. I felt an unsatisfied longing, sensing that from the viewpoint of eternity – I had never done anything more important than those photos. I was not quite an unhappy administrator because of this, but I also somehow hoped that one day a Schiller would enter my life as well.


If I take a few steps back from everything pedestrian, I can say that almost all my longings have been fulfilled at some point in my life. It was the same with this one. And that things came to pass and at once were always quite different than anticipated. In terms of the subject matter at hand, it was a birthmark - a dark, growing spot on my wife's belly that not only catapulted our lives out of our comfort zone, but made me more closely acquainted with my Schiller. My wife, faced with the fragility of her own life, changed through her illness. Despite serious operations and long hospital stays, she began to write and paint, began to think and speak and do things, for which it had formerly seemed impossible to find time and energy and courage for. 


 At first her transformation was almost a scary feeling, then I was fascinated and finally inspired. It was a very painful, yet at once an enormously intense and stimulating time for me. I admired her determination, I was surprised almost everyday how she used the available (life) space and how her thoughts and works and her life in general formed a new unity. We celebrated each of her paintings like a great event, around the paintings assembled her thoughts and poems, around all this her and our new life. She did not follow any artistic taste, she cared not for the Zeitgeist, she did not have any commercial interest, no, she simply painted and wrote bluntly and freely what moved her, with the innocence and enthusiasm of a child. I can say that never before or after has a person, the way they lived and acquiesced into their fate, never has a work of art touched and inspired me as much. Even about her death I could say similar things.


Today, as I have overcome my grief, I can laugh at the irony of life - I had waited many years for my Schiller, and only realized after so many years together: not only had I known him for a long time, I had been married to mine.

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