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- Ben & Sebastian
Why, the first time I asked myself whether to be or not to be I was about seventeen, standing on the edge of the platform at Salzburg main station. It had just been renovated, and I thought it was quite a beautiful place not to be. What a nice day that had been, but being alone on a beautiful November morning in a crowd full of people travelling, leaving, and arriving, why it was not nice at all. If the station hadn’t been filled with so many travellers, I might have made the decision not to be. But as any coward, talking and thinking big had always been a talent of mine. In my defence, I was not the only one back then. No, my friends were all incredible at being cowards, and their cowardly attitude to everything in life was even more incredible. To be in circles like that is definitely worse than not to be, I do not know much, but this I can tell you.
So there I was, standing on the edge of the platform this pleasant morning, when I took a step back as a train approached at a rather frightening speed. I would have never done it anyways, and the thought of that increased my self-hatred for not being able to do anything right. Watching me with wide eyes was a young boy, holding on to the hand of his far-too-young-to-be-a mother. I couldn’t have done it in front of a child, my only excuse back then. Mechanically, I strutted down the escalators, past the homeless throwing away their lives in front of the entrance, towards the city I made my way. The smell of gasoline and alcohol and dust crept into my clothes, and I would be able to smell it all day, until I finally made it to my shower, I was sure. The wind made my limbs freeze to the bone, although I would have expected it to be quite warm.
Salzburg can be quite beautiful as a place. People don’t appreciate though, and that’s what ruins it for me. If you fill the most beautiful room with tons of unsatisfied people, the beauty will fade faster than you can snap your fingers. I dare you, go somewhere beautiful and see a person you didn’t ever want to see again, and this place will be ruined for you.
I snap out of it. I’m not seventeen anymore, and I’m not wondering about whether to be or not to be anymore. No, the contrast to then could not be any more extreme. It’s July, the sun is burning down ardently and I am still making my way towards the old part of the city. What I love most now, as compared to back then, is watching people. I used to despise this as a method for passing time, but now, the tables have truly turned. Watching people closely is probably the most amusing thing to do. Take the three old ladies for example; the pavement is rather narrow for a place that holds as many people as this. Three ladies, one with a walking stick, one with a trolley, and one with a heavy shopping bag are approaching one another. The lady with the walking stick has stopped to take a look at the clothes in the window of a rather expensive shop. She is amazed, I can see she would probably buy whatever it is she is looking at. Slowly but surely the three ladies come to a bottleneck on the sidewalk. A phone booth separates the pavement from the street, where cars pass by, their drivers in a hurry to get to wherever it is people have to get to. So the three ladies approach one another, none of them makes any indication of slowing down, or maybe letting the other’s pass. No, like trains on rails, they come to an intersection, and I can see them bumping into one another, and one falling down. I hold my breath, the suspense of this unexciting scene leaves me on edge. And then, just like that, they pass one another, without touching. I would never have thought that these ambling ladies would manage, but they did. With grim faces they go on, as if nothing had happened. But I thought about it for a long time after. Old people discourage me, they give me anxiety. For a great many reasons, too. It’s because they make me think. I don’t want to grow so old, that one day I will not know my own name, or where I am, or which people I can trust or not. I don’t want to be one of those old, nice ladies that gives candy to little kids and talks to everyone on the bus. I don’t want to be one of those bitter old ladies that constantly grumble about the spoilt youth and that back then, everything was better. I don’t want to become a vegetable, living, dying and existing in a hospital bed, waiting for death to come to me. No, I would much rather meet death in the middle. I want to have control over my life, and that includes having control of my death.
Once again, I snap out of it. The ladies have disappeared, and my bus arrives. Hopping on, I see a few people I know but I do not really know, and I come back to my question of being and not being. Why, this day had started out quite nice, and it was not even nine o’clock. A young man looks at me oddly, as if he knows me, and I’m not quite sure whether I have talked to him before, but I quickly turn around and pretend I do not know him. Cowardly me is incredibly good at avoiding social situations. I’m not scared of them, I don’t necessarily fear them, but I have made the unpleasant experience that most uncomfortable things come from feeling comfortable in someone else’s presence. I think it’s quite weird, really, because you are always told that relationships are what make life worth living, and that I am supposed to be somewhere, with someone, doing something all of the time, otherwise my social life is considered to be abnormal and unhealthy. But personally, I think that being alone is underrated. To me, being alone I have made the most interesting and beautiful experiences. Things are not as exciting being alone, but overall, being alone bears a lot of advantages. A lot of people don’t seem to agree, however.
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