This is a little bit about me.
I was born on January 13 in Vienna, Austria. Soon after that I got my first label. MY name. I have a brother who was born about three years before me. Guess he got his name before he even saw the light of day. Don’t get me wrong here, please. Nothing wrong with names. It’s just… the beginning. In the course of life, we get wrapped up in names, that’s all, so much so that we forget to look beyond them. So here is what my mother calls me: Michael. Some of my most homely homies call me Hakeem. Some of my egonemesis (new word!) call me all kinds of names.
I went to school because my parents thought education is a good idea and make life much easier later on. I am grateful to them for being so considerate. A couple of years later, I started to go there on my own accord, more or less. At least I came to realise why I am there and that the person in front is not necessarily there to make life difficult for me. When I was eight years old, I started to play table tennis. I was quite important to me (no typo there). So I took it quite seriously. Winning or losing a match/ tournament was often a question of life and death.
I was five years old when Chernobyl. Eight years when the Wall. I did not take any notice of these events and how they impacted the world. When I was ten years old, someone very dear to me died of a heart stroke. My father. Now THIS event certainly changed my world. I switched school and living conditions. My mother met a friend from earlier times. I moved with them to Lower Austria. Went from the capital to the countryside. This old friend/ new partner was French affine. Many times we took off to France to spend our holiday there, to visit cities and to go skiing. We also went to Corsica with a camper van. That’s how i came to learn the language. My brother came into contact with computers through this man. So he influenced our lives very much. My mother and he wanted to have a child together but unfortunately, it did not work out which was tough for both of them.
I chose another sport. I started to play tennis. I did not take it as seriously as table tennis, an activity which had manifested in 40 or 50 trophies in six years. But I took it seriously enough to get angry at myself committing unforced errors. Interspersed with aces which I took for granted or didn’t get excited about as much as I got upset about the next double fault. I didn’t think of this as an unbalanced evaluation. Quite the contrary. I convinced myself this was an appropriate response also because others seemed to behave in a similar way. ‘Yeah,’ I thought, ‘compared to them I am harmless.’ Compared to whom? I didn’t bother to do a close check-up of my frames of reference.
When I was about seventeen, I started to smoke. It took me six months to realise there is no point at all in doing that. Some girl and peers mentioned I look pretty cool when I smoke. I could not see their view for what it was: Bullshit. But in spite of all the fog, after half a year I rolled the last cig and I quit. When I was seventeen and a half, I fell in love for the first time. It took several years to really get to know each other. And several years more to find a way to get rid of one another without too much unnecessary suffering. Fighting took place mostly because we were blind or tried to ignore subtle hints along the way.
After finishing 13 years inside the educational system I was able to read, write and speak German, English and French rather fluently. In Barcelona, I learned Spanish. In Australia, I practised English. I also came into contact with Buddhism at that time.
After returning home from Sydney to Vienna, I studied philosophy for about 5 years. Also Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit for some time. During the summer holidays I went on el Camino through Austria and Switzerland. Learned to give tennis lessons and massages. I lived together with my brother. Our mother fell terribly sick but recovered after a couple of years. My father’s death a decade ago, my mother’s illness and the brake-up with the girl I had met in school and had been together since then – on and off during the last years – made me aware of ‘I-me-mine’ and the suffering it entails. I sat down and watched the pain, the sorrow, the grief of separation. Watched it deeply to see the source of it. And that has made all the difference.
After the university training in analytical thinking and language acquisition, I felt I needed a practical, physical approach. Besides philosophy which i finished, I had also looked into Sports, English as well as Cultural and Social Anthropology. So the next step was to find a way to earn my livelihood, right? At least, that’s what everybody seemed to be talking about. As if getting or losing a top job was a question of life and death.
I came across Ohashiatsu and a year later, I started to practise Vipassana. Over the last five years, I have been integrating these two forms of meditative bodywork in my daily life. I have had couch surfers from around the globe at my place.
I have lived together with a wonderful woman who is about 14 years older than me. What I learned with her is to be realistic. I’ve had a relationship with another wonderful woman who happened to live in Florence. Among other things, I learned Italian with her. And, to be realistic. Another wonderful woman I was close to was all for openness. But she closed down when it was most important to talk openly to one another. With her, I learned to forgive myself. Relationships have become very important to me these days. It almost seems as if gain and loss of a loved one is often a question… well, you know already 😉
Currently, I am travelling Southeast Asia for about half a year. Just to get the edge off, you know. The edge being identity. All those personal attributes which are nothing but a burden to a life here and now. Drop it all. No need to be anything. Finally… peace. Alright, vegetarianism is hard to quit, I admit. But it is possible. I just say: i prefer not to eat meat, and everyone is happy. And if it’s meat, let it be meat. No need to get all excited about what goes into that hole in the head. Rather, I check scrupulously what comes out of it! It can be so easy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Now gently gently close your eyes. Listen closely. Feel your body. Feel the breath. Coming in. Going out. Who are —