da sitzt sie
die koffer gepackt.
da liegt sie
schlägt noch im takt.
in der stille ihrer welt
eine frage im nebel.
hinter milchigen augen
geht eine welt zuende.
die letzten strahlen
die den balkon erhellen
werden die ersten sein.
da lacht sie
bewusst und gut gezielt
da weint sie
dann wenn’s keiner sieht
einsame tränen der sehnsucht.
hinter milchigen augen
geht eine welt zuende.
vom kampf zerwühlt
im frieden ruhig
geht eine welt zuende.
vor freude nicht wissen nicht wohin
vor, zurück, immer im seitschritt
noch nicht bereit
im blick zurück verschleiert erinnerung
färbt das morgen grauer
versteckt gestrige hoffnungen
hinterm schleier enttäuschter realität.
auf zelluloid, in pixeln gebannt
schaut ein anderer mensch
naivität verbrannt im fluss der zeit
eingeholt von der schönheit künftiger momente.
kopf frei, auf drei!
urlaub, zeit der auflösung
und wenn’s nicht geht
weil sich alles weiterdreht?
perpetuum mobile mollis
wiesnkarussell in endlosschleife
kein entkommen vor sich selbst
weil’s ja sonst keiner merkt.
authentic, Boccaccio, brand journalism, brand storytelling, business storytelling, change, cluetrain manifesto, Co-creation, content, conversations, corporate storytelling, Dante, digital storytelling, Friedrich Schiller, Günter Grass, Gehalt, Heinirch Böll, Homer, Inhalt, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Literature, narration, social media, Storytelling, surprise, Thomas Mann, Truth, Zufrieden
Ever since I made my first professional walking attempts in the digital world (20 years ago that must be #feelslikeyesterday), I heard this mantra everywhere in the pre-dotcom bubble euphoria of Cluetrain afficionados, would-be Internet prophets, and notorious panjandrums:
CONTENT IS KING! They all said.
I had been studying Storytelling for five years, long before I even knew it was Storytelling. Back then they called it literature. So it seemed a little odd to hear these Internet geeks regurgitating their royal mantra when I had just meticulously learnt about the history, structure and perennial powers of stories told by early-day classics like Homer, Cervantes, Dante or Boccaccio, classic classics like Goethe, Schiller or Lessing or modern classics like Grass, Mann or Böll. Admittedly, I was also getting carried away by this millennial the-end-of-business-as-usual atmosphere of imminent change. Felt somehow audacious to dust off the venerable Germanstik patina in favour of some fresh … ehem, content?
It was only many years later, after necessary detours through the fires of corporate Mordor, that I realized one ring, I mean thing: The business world was (sorry: IS!) overly attracted by the glare of technological possibilities and features, fanatically prone to wanna-be-first- and because-we-can-itis. And thereby narrowly and one-sidedly interpreting the word “content”, neglecting other, much more elementary facets – facets that become clearest in the three different German translations the word “content” offers.
Back in the late 90’s, corporate content creation had nothing to do with journalistic research or writing talent. Its creators literally were content “managers”, i.e. project managers for pieces of content that they 1:1 transferred from paper to HTML and pinned to the newly discovered digital blackboard called website. Period. Their job was simply about the most general interpretation of content: words and pictures on a screen, publishing material. The (most probable and wide-spread) German translation for this aspect of content would be:
Or: “Something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts … something that is contained.” (dictionary.com)
But it this Inhalt automatically something meaningful? Something that goes deeper than letters strung together by punctuation marks? Something that links beyond the surface not to just another succession of trivialities and soulless pixels, but to true substance? Mostly not. This is where in recent years (in continental Europe) or maybe decades (in Anglo-American dominated countries) the bandwagon of storytelling has already been able to do a lot for the greater good of meaningful content. If understood well and deployed according to the storycodeX of Expectation, Surprise and Change. The (a lot less wide-spread and more rarely spotted) German translation for this aspect of content with substance would be:
Or: “Significance or profundity; meaning” (dictionary.com)
But interesting: Gehalt also means “salary” in German. So maybe in the end all just about the dough, be the content meaningful or not. Surely, what did you think? Now let’s once and for all get past the naïve, childish, even insulting notion that any one corporation on this planet has a different purpose than making money. And the more they want you to believe that they’re sustainably trying to save the world, “do something good” on the side with CSR and foundations, a little like a Hollywood actress doing charity, the more they’re deceiving you.
The labyrinth of linguistics … Whatever. What I actually wanted to say was: Meaningful content with substance is a good thing. But is it enough? No. Not today anymore, that’s for sure. Inhalt and Gehalt were a great, successful and sufficient, but nevertheless rare combination in the pre social media age. When the third facet of “content” didn’t really matter. It was the age of broadcast after all, old-school Shannon-Weaver style.
Bad news: those days are over. Interactivity, ubiquitous commentaries, likes and forum discussions have changed the recipient side practically over night (in a historical sense of time).
People and the conglomerates they form called audiences (NOT users!) will no longer be satisfied with consuming content-turned-into-great-stories and commenting on it in a more or less intelligent and fruitful discussion with fellow audience members or members from other audience groups. They will first of all want to be able to dig deeper behind your story, deeper into the spider web, find proof for your story, get in contact with the heroes of your story, and maybe some day also with you. If they’re not disappointed on their journey.
But, even more substantial, they will want to become an active part of a company’s business story and stories, not as actors or heroes, but as co-authors. After all, they are the other half of the corporate truth, the devil on the corporate shoulder, internal versus external perception. Devils who might become angels when they turn into a renowned and emancipated member if a brand’s story creation team. Only then will they be what the third, most vital and rarest facet of German translation attempts hints at:
Or: “Satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else … Archaic: willing.” (dictionary.com)
Yep, content is also an adjective, not only a noun.
And the central question is: Who is it that you want to satisfy with your content? Yourself? Your bosses? Your bosses bosses? Or maybe, only very maybe … your customers? Your customers’ customers? Your audiences? Maybe even a targeted small portion of your audience? Certainly, your answer will be: Of course my customers! Of course my audiences! Plus the fact, now I have all these big and massive and powerful data, I now even know what my audience wants before it knows that it wants it! Ha! There you go, eat this!
I’m eating …
Only: Lies are hard to digest. And all the easier to unmask. As written in the world’s most successful example of purposeful storytelling: “Thou shalt not lie!”
Which brings me to the answer of above-asked headline question: As long as you betray yourself and thereby the people you are apparently creating your content for, there will be no sustainably successful content! Take all your pig data, winnow the refuse from the valuable gold nuggets, take an honest and disarraying look at them, shuffle your cards anew, do away with your organization’s and your management’s old shibboleths, dare, launch a pilot, let go, and see what happens.
There is an even older mantra from our economy’s service sector, way back from the days when storytelling was still literature, when relevant content didn’t need to be called king, when it in fact was a rarity due to its scarcity, not due to its abundance. Back then, the saying went:
Der Kunde ist König. The customer is the King.
Aha. So, so. Let’s try that for once, what do you say?
I can’t get no satisfaction, he says? All the better; let that be your stimulant.
fluchtmomente, rar gesät.
fluchtmomente, zu wenige, zu spät.
erkennen, wovor du fliehst,
wohin du gehst.
zu viele menschen, dennoch allein.
zu vieles, zu gut gemeint.
nur noch gehen, durchdrehen.
endlich mal anderes sehen.
Authenticity, Business, business storytelling, cluetrain manifesto, conversation, corporate storytelling, human story, interaction, Malta, Marketing and Advertising, McKee Story, Robert McKee, story, Story Seminar, Storynomics, Storytelling, Winston Churchill
Valetta, Malta, late November. It’s an evening at the end of one of those days. Summer has finally lost his last fight against Jack Frost, reinvigorated by Judas Autumn, his beautiful, deceptive seasonal companion. Stealing the remaining rays of warmth from the year’s sunny season for his own colourful performance. Just to lose his beauty to master Winter with the blow of a November wind. The last moment before the days become grey and miserable, foggy and wet, cold.
Nature’s true game of thrones, a drama of expectation, surprise, and change, story in repetition mode. A perfect platform, autumn the perfect time of year, an island the perfect location for a very unique scene, at least in my life story …
… Dinner with Robert McKee, one of the world’s most renowned, respected and successful story teachers, accompanied by his wife and my dear friend and story consultant James McCabe. Great food and even greater Maltese wine were the witnesses of an evening of lively and inspiring discussions about, naturally, all stories great and small, good and bad. About stories from Hollywood, McKee’s professional backyard, behind and in front of the scenes (very interesting to a provincial Bavarian story lover like me!); about movies galore; about the rise of sophisticated and elaborate TV series like Breaking Bad (the best ever produced, I recall McKee raving, that was some common ground to start an evening on!), and … about the poor state our world is in when it comes to business stories.
From Hollywood Entertainment to Malta Business
Robert McKee is not only Hollywood’s #1 story expert and creative writing instructor: His seminal book “STORY” is as famous and well-reviewed as his four-day “Story Seminar” is legendary, a must-attend guide for every ambitious (screen)writer willing to learn the craft or recall its essence. I have yet to judge this for myself, but allegedly 410 of his alumni have won Golden Globes, Academy Awards and many other renowned prizes. Not bad. Alumni like LOTR’s Peter Jackson go into rapture saying things like “McKee is the Guru of Gurus of Storytelling” (whatever a storytelling guru is…), or John Cleese who less guru-ishly claims: “It’s an amazingly important course that I’ve gone back to do three times.” Not bad either.
McKee has as of late also embarked upon the effort to transfer his knowledge and expertise in fiction story (mainly designed for entertainment purposes) to the sphere of business, corporate communications and marketing – storytelling with the slightly altered purpose of not only telling, but actually selling something, products and ideas, by means of entertainment. (Ideally. Mostly though, the State of the Business Story Union suggests that these means are currently mainly boredom, repetition and tutelage.)
McKee’s seminar builds upon one major notion: That companies are not abstract enterprises, they are not their portfolios; they are their employees. And these employees are actual human beings, people creating and experiencing stories every day. Only: They’re simply not telling them, rather burying them on power- and pointless PPT’s, vertiginous data sheets, and propaganda wolves in a press release’s sheep skin.
Businesses must shift from “We” to “You”.
So, there’s a urgent need for action here, a demand that McKee has identified and tries to answer with his “Storynomics Seminar”, which premiered under the then name “Story in Business” (which I find much more intuitive, to be honest) in Valetta, Malta, on above-mentioned autumn day.
Upfront: I sincerely believe that endeavours like this should be on the mandatory training list of EVERY person responsible for communications and marketing, from one-man enterprises to multi-national companies. Actually, while I’m thinking about it: slam McKee business story seminar it into the PMP files of every manager attempting to lead in a meaningful and not just power-centric way!
And why? Cos it’s good. Not perfect yet, but really a great start to break up fossilized PR and Marketing dinosaurs, and introduce them to a world where people are people and not abstract target groups, people that indeed WANT to embark upon meaningful dialogue with people from companies (not the companies!), for whatever purpose.
Here are a couple of notes I made, ideas and impulses that I got from that one day in Valetta – they’re pretty spot-on and need no further commentary:
- Everyone has storytelling skills, it’s natural. It only got erased by the way we are trained in schools.
- Very little in life that really matters can be measured.
- Facts are not the truth. Facts are what happens. Truth is how and why things happen.
- The only thing our mind is really interested in, is change. And change is NOT activity.
- Story means “learning by inquiry”.
- A story needs a violation of expectation.
- The business malady of “solutionism” ignores life, ignores duality and ambiguity. Most corporations suffer from “negaphobia”.
- A good (business) story gives the audience insights into their own life, it makes wise use of the “like me” effect.
- Before you can find your story’s character(s), you need to know who you are as a company. The spirit of every story a company tells needs to fit into its identity.
- Businesses must shift the pronoun from “We” to “You”.
- Let the events tell the story. Events are much stronger than the commentary on events.
A little less conversation, a little more (inter)action, please.
The seminar is structured into three parts: Story Purpose, Story Design, Story Telling. McKee convincingly demonstrates the principles of a good story that “serves its purpose” (be that entertainment or a trip down the sales funnel), mechanisms are the same everywhere. A story is a story is a story. With many a business video example, good and bad, reinforces the fact that “story is a metaphor for life”, hence also business life. Very illustrative, very stringent, very substantial, at times maybe a little dogmatic, definitely too much from-stage-to-audience style, and unfortunately almost completely interaction-free (apart from a pre-structured Q&A session at the end). Granted, this is probably the maximum you can do in the course of just one day with such a fundamental topic.
Still: While his screenwriting reputation and Hollywood expertise is the greatest asset and perspective-changing element of this lecture, it’s also maybe the cause for its only weakness, or let’s rather call it room for improvement. I really feel that it’s an opportunity wasted for McKee to have so many interested business people in a room hanging on his lips for story expert advice and only TELL them stuff, and not let them experience it themselves. Not just transfer fiction story mechanics to business story in a demonstrative way, but let them experience it hands-on.
Corporate dinosaurs need more than one day to be story-empowered
Maybe invite a co-lecturer or break-out session lead who actually has extensive experience of working INSIDE and just WITH companies, for the benefit of the much-aspired “like me” effect. To share this business expert’s experiences, especially in terms of overcoming organisational hurdles and convincing notorious nay-sayers nevertheless. Let the audiences maybe even work on short business story challenges amongst themselves, so they don’t just see and hear how it’s done, but can actually do it and feel it. Turn it from a lecture into a true seminar where PR and Marketing professionals are not only evangelized but actually enabled and empowered to go back to their desks and produce their first-ever real business story.
That would probably turn the one-day event into a two- or three-day event. But so what? Why not? Business story lecturing is faced with far crustier mindsets than the entertainment sector where disciples already know the Why’s and want to learn the How’s. Corporate dinosaurs need convincing before you can even get to the tutorial, the hands-on learning part. And that requires more than a day, and more story engagement spice in the story telling soup.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”, Churchill once said.
So please continue, Bobby McKee! And thanks for great insights – and great wine.
alles verfügbar, hier und jetzt
nichts offen, kein wunsch verletzt
kaum erblickt, schon gezückt
regale voll, nasen auch
volle köpfe, fetter bauch
kaum erblickt, schon gebückt
alle münder gähnen.
homo analogus ausgestorben
pixeliges grab schon ausgehoben
suchen gesterns kinder heut nach glück
stück für stück mit blick zurück
doch da ist nichts mehr
9/11, Auschwitz, Billy Joel, Black and White, charlie hebdo, Christian, Günter Grass, germany, grey, hebdo, history, Jew, Muslim, paris, prejudice, religion, shades of grey, stereotypes, story, terror attacks, Theodor Adorno, tolerance, understanding, World Literature, World War II
„Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
Black and white is how it should be
But shades of grey are the colors I see.“
Charlie Hebdo, even the name Charlie alone, has become a sad chiffre for the state of the world we’re in – or maybe have always been. On January 7, 2015, at 11:30 AM, the world stood still for a second, probably even changed irreversibly. Once again.
Like on September 11, 2001.
Like on November 10, 1938.
Dates scarred into modern conscience, because they marked the end of worlds as we knew them. Once again.
Watching the unbelievable Paris scenes, enduring the multitude of talk shows that spilt over our TV screens like the inevitable vomit after a serious case of food poisoning, I could actually physically feel the caesura this event means for Europe, just like 9/11 for the USA. For better or worse, only history will tell.
Stereotypes will grow, prejudices will thrive, the legislative and especially executive countermeasures to serve the earlier will be scarily en vogue. Left, right. Muslim, Christian, Jew. Black and White.
Blueprint “Schreiben nach Auschwitz”
Writing about anything else in the aftermath of the Hebdo murders felt like an impossibility to me, inappropriate, even an act of blasphemy in a strictly non-religious sense.
Posts on communication and marketing trends in 2015 were on the storycodeX to-write list in early January – as for many a net writer interested in this stuff. Topics like the rivalry of Content Marketing and Brand Journalism. Like the true meaning of Content. Or Doc Searls’ and David Weinberger’s “New Clues”, but … just wouldn’t work. It’s like the author’s fingers refused to type, forced their tips to the West, to France, to the city of love.
Emotional thoughts and thoughtful emotions that somehow drew me towards a re-read of a speech by Günter Grass, held as part of his poetry lecture at Goethe University in Frankfurt in 1990. Its title: “Schreiben nach Auschwitz”. In his speech, Grass not only elaborates on his literary story and stories, but also makes a critical reference to Theodor W. Adorno’s discourse “Minima Moralia” as well as the infamous and often over-exaggeratingly dogmatized claim “Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht schreiben ist barbarisch” from his 1951 essay “Kulturkritik und Gesellschaft – Gedichte nach Auschwitz”. The full context of this quote goes as follows:
“Kulturkritik findet sich der letzten Stufe der Dialektik von Kultur und Barbarei gegenüber: nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch, und das frisst auch die Erkenntnis an, die ausspricht, warum es unmöglich ward, heute Gedichte zu schreiben. Der absoluten Verdinglichung, die den Fortschritt des Geistes als eines ihrer Elemente voraussetzte und die ihn heute gänzlich aufzusaugen sich anschickt, ist der kritische Geist nicht gewachsen, solange er bei sich bleibt in selbstgenügsamer Kontemplation.”
It might seem a far-fetched, lame mental leap from World War II to the afterbirth’s of Al Qaida and ISIS, but mental leaps always are, and are allowed, maybe even meant to be. So here’s mine:
Granted, the extent and magnitude of the Nazi terror that forever displayed to the world the ugly grimace of human abyss is by no means comparable with anything we see happening in the name of Allah by a fanatic, blinded-by-hate extremist minority of an otherwise peaceful religion today. Not yet, that is.
Also, the apparent historic facts of the lurching Weimar Republic and today’s crumbling century-old models of life in many parts of the world, not only in the Middle East and Africa, seem to hold little resemblance.
And the respective motives for launching terroristic machinery are quite different. On the outside at least.
On the inside it’s always about power, money, and religion in a wider sense.
NAZISIS – Same Illness, Different Symptoms
Still there are parallels, alarmingly terrifying parallels, between what took its beginning in Germany’s 1933, in a time of ubiquitous uncertainty, political and economic fragility, susceptibility towards extremism, and the rise of organizations like Al Qaida and ISIS. In the end, it’s the promise of a better life for the faithful and devout, a better world, even a better death and afterlife, killing and dying for a greater good.
I figure a young, frustrated, unemployed, sidelined man with no role in society, no prospect for a future, in disharmony with the world, approached by someone seemingly larger than life, promising wealth, meaning and purpose, to serve a cause … and off the soldiers march.
I figure the constant human need to find bogeymen for their own misery, the all-too-human suspicion of everything and everybody different, and how it’s always easier to blame others than yourself. And if you then even get the official mandate to punish those others … off the soldiers march.
I figure the damage that fanatism and the colors Black and White have always done, the pain and the suffering they have created, always for seemingly greater goods, proclaimed by charismatic mindfuckers using people to kill people, turning them into blind-folded soldiers … soldiers that march off to wherever they are told.
Self-sufficient Contemplation – The Death of Civil Courage
While drawing parallels between the spoilt acronyms NAZI and ISIS, and bringing them closer together for thorough examination seems like a worthwhile topic for a Bachelor or Masters thesis in Political Science, Cultural Science or History (that would certainly do this idea more resilient justice than my unstructured, initial thoughts here), the author is drawn back to Adorno and a key phrase in above quote in relation to writing after Auschwitz, after 9/11, after Hebdo: “Selbstgenügsame Kontemplation”, probably best translated as “self-sufficient contemplation”, the enemy of the skeptical, questioning intellect.
Maybe self-centered contemplation is indeed even the death of civil courage, the end of questioning, the end of insurgency. To read about such tragedies and incredibilities, watch them on TV, maybe follow a hashtag that makes you feel engaged, yet de facto going on with your life as if nothing had happened. To go on with writing about meaningless bullshit like content strategies and the best way to fill people’s heads with marketing shit they don’t want to see, at places where they don’t want to be bothered, by companies they care for even less after being menaced. Gosh, how many newsletters or tweets or Linked-In group posts did I receive right after Paris, and how many of them made me think “Why the hell is this important now???”.
I agree, life goes on, and life changes as it does – that’s probably the only constant we can really rely on. And the probability that also storycodeX.com will return to the path it initially set out on is high. Still, sometimes it’s simply time to pause for a moment, take a grateful look around at your own life, your own health and wealth, at the freedom of speech we enjoy, a privilege that should never be taken for granted, a freedom that none of us post-war kids ever did anything for, nothing that makes us actually deserve it. It was given to us a gift by our parents and grandparents, and we need to fight for it, now and forever.
But not by all means, not with uninformed impulses, and never in a way that serves delusional superiority over others, never with a sense of Black or White, but with a dialectic appreciation of the beauty of Grey, the manifold shades of which much better represent our world and everything that has ever happened, everything that is happening right now, and everything that will ever happen. The world is grey, and should we ever learn how great it is that there are always two sides to a coin, that this is what makes life rich and exciting, only then will we be able to do what – let’s be honest – everybody wants: to live in peace and enjoy life.
“Der Verzicht auf reine Farbe”
Günter Grass concludes his speech in Frankfurt and his reference to Adorno (whose famous quote he also, at first, misunderstood as a prohibiting verdict) with the retrospect cognition that his own (and his fellow post-war writers’) literary output would never have been possible without the leaden weight of history, and for him personally without the weight of Adorno’s verdict. In his own reading, Grass notes that “diese Vorschrift verlangte Verzicht auf reine Farbe; sie schrieb das Grau und dessen unendliche Schattierungen vor.” (Grass, Schreiben nach Ausschwitz, 1999.)
Or as Billy Joel put it three years later:
„Shades of grey are all that I find
When I look to the enemy line
Black and white was so easy for me
But shades of grey are the colors I see.“
(Billy Joel, 1993)
So I say: GREY IS THE WORLD. AND GREY IS BEAUTIFUL.
Stories are everywhere around us. In every part and place of our lives.
Only: we are often much too busy to see them. Too blinkered by life’s challenges, the haste of getting from A to B, the illusion that life is a to-do list, and idleness evil.
Open senses are all it takes to escape this gridlock that makes so many of us unhappy; open eyes open up new perspectives.
Here’s a story (or rather a couple of possible plots) I literally stumbled upon while running in a close-by park – not away from anything, not towards anything, actually in circles, letting my thoughts do the same.
It’s the story of this deserted park bench jacket.
*Disclaimer: I didn’t put it there for this post.;)
My circling mind started asking: How did it get there? Where does it comes from? Who and where is the man (was it a man, just because it’s a man’s jacket?) who left it there? And why did he do it?
The jacket belonged to a homeless man. Lying there, taking a rest from life’s endless atrocities and perpetual failed hopes. Fell asleep in the first rays of warm sunlight surrounded by the colour of hope after yet another night in the rainy cold, looking for shelter, in vain. Hungry, thirsty, desperate, and so terribly tired, tired of life. When, after many hours of peaceful slumber, he was approached by strollers checking on him, he didn’t move. An ambulance was called, but arrived only to find out that the nameless man had passed away, covered by death’s cold hand in the late morning sun. Who was this man? What was his story? Which conflicts and pitfalls in his life brought him to this lonely park bench? And why was the jacket still there?
The jacket belonged to a man in his mid-forties who had been sitting there, trying to collect his thoughts, agonizing over the best way (if there was one) to avert the imminent drama in his life. The U-turn it was about to take, inflicted only by his own stupidity of cheating on his wife. After all that they had been through, one single moment of vain joy now thwarted it all. Would he ever see her again, his son? After his confession and pleas for forgiveness, honest, but (to her) lame promises, she had thrown him out of their house. Marital silence ever since, he was sleeping at a friend’s place. Suddenly, on his walk through the park, mixing fresh air with chain smoke, his phone rang. It was her. Asking if they could meet. Right away. He jumped up in incredulous joy, already on his way while she was still on the phone, completely forgetting his jacket. A happy ending?
The jacket belonged to a business man who had messed with the wrong people. Pushing his luck for the deal of his life with different parties, closing the bargain with the one side, pissing off the other, like real. And the other party was not the one to piss off. A thing he didn’t know, but was soon to find out on his daily walk in the park to work. The three thugs came out of nowhere, dashing from a blind spot … and then his world went black. Who was / is this man? Is he still alive? Does he have a family? What was the deal about, and what was really behind this ambush? And why did the jacket stay there while its owner has gone missing ever since?
Sounds like fiction? Sure it does, I just made it up. But .. only maybe. Do we know? Do we know ANYTHING about the world around us, our neighbours, every-day passers-by on our way to work?
Maybe the deserted bench jacket story was much more prosaic than this, maybe someone just accidentally left it there while taking his lunch break in the sunny park, fiddling around with his smart phone, then running off in a hurry to get back to work on time. Maybe just someone who didn’t want this shabby jacket anymore, too lazy to throw it into the used-clothes container?
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
There a story behind everything. And everyone’s story has its intriguing moments, twists and surprises. It’s just a question of taking a closer look, a question of perspective, of attitude.
And there is definitely some story up this jacket’s sleeve, behind its former owner for sure. Oh and: next morning the jacket was gone … Woohaah!
After all: Life is stranger than fiction.
Somewhere between getting lost in transmedia and celebrating AOL („Annual Offline Leave“ – you should try it, helps you understand what Lennon meant when he said that “life is what happens while you’re tweeting” … or something like that), I remembered that I wanted to relive the part of my life when a mix tape (o.k., it was a mix CD, but that sounds so … unromantic, so modern, although the round thing itself is already square) actually changed my life. And at the same time catapulted my relationship with Mister G. to another level of intensity.
It started, as it often does, at work. The place where you spend most of your time, and sometimes are lucky enough to meet interesting people with whom you want to be a little more than colleagues – well aware of the company’s ink saying, but what the heck.
That’s where I met her, over 10 years ago now. And, of course, I mean look at her: She already had a boyfriend. Grrrr. What to expect? So it was waiting mode for God knows how long, felt like decades, which sounds pretty “100 Years of Solitute”-like romantic, but was in fact a couple of months, to be honest. Still … an eternity.
Eventually, not in vain.
The tide was turning, the dark knight’s access to the princess’ castle finally denied, for whatever reason, what should I care? This was my “Over The Top” moment, the knight in white satin’s imaginary baseball cap going in reverse, a unique moment and chance in time that I answered with …
… this mix tape (aka CD) titled “Something Beautiful”.
It contained a hell of a collection of songs, broad hint with a capital B. It was clandestinely handed over by a good, discreet and conspiratorial friend … and then the waiting began. Again.
Naturally, every one of the selected songs had its own story, a story in itself, a story for me, but also a connection to many of the stories that my Queen of Hearts to-be had been going through (as I had heard through the grape-vine and witnessed as a sideline observer). So hopes were high for a favourable, comprehending, comprehensive and, from a music and lyric lover’s perspective, appropriate reaction. A reaction that would show whether she was the right one. A simple “Oh, thanks” would have been just as disappointing as her not liking the kind of music her stalker was offering her, maybe even selecting the wrong, meaning most obvious song as her favourite one, one of those I had chosen from a “she’ll definitely love this one” perspective.
BUT … after waiting an appropriate while before even answering to this unasked-for present, she immediately named THE one song as her favourite that I had indeed put on this compilation as a kind of test balloon to check whether our two clocks were ticking in synch. THE one song that was my favourite song, from my favourite singer, expressing my favourite mood … a massive Broad hint from destiny. Or so I wanted to interpret it.
And the song was … “Sail Away” by David Gray. A song that has never been the same ever since, has probably reached an unsurpassable pool position on the past ten year’s hot rotation lists, has bestowed on us a very special moment at Mister G.’s 2006 concert in Munich, and has been the “Honey Call” tune on my mobile since mobile phones could read mp3’s.
Who knows, maybe without this joint Sail Away passion, we would never have gone out, never have kissed, never have, never have, never have …
OK, probably, if it was really meant to be in the first place, we would have gone out and done all that other stuff anyway, even if she’d had named the eponymous Robbie Williams song that found its way onto “Something Beautiful”.
I prefer the Sail Away story.
True story, true love.
Sail away with me honey
I put my heart in your hands
Sail away with me honey now, now now.