Questions of life - Hubert von Goisern

Chrismon July 2008 | Text & Photo: Dirk von Nayhauß

He finds that being alone the mountains is good for you. That is where the knots that seem otherwise inextricable undo themselves.

Hubert von GoisernIn what God do you believe?

A friend of mine is a biologist, working with unicellular organisms. We spoke recently about faith and he said to me: "I don't have it. It's like musicality, I don't have that either. I envy people who believe in God." I myself can believe in this one thing, I feel secure in this great creation. It gives me calmness, especially with great disasters. This feeling that the world is carrying me, nurturing me, is one I've had from an early age. Of course it's expressed through the people who have cared for me, my family, my mother and my father.

In which moments do you feel alive?

For me feeling alive is noticing that I'm living, I'm suffering, I'm laughing. Of course you can create the situations that force you to this awakeness too. Like with riding a motorbike. Or when you climb a rock face - at that moment you're in the here and now. You don't think about what was yesterday, or what you have to do tomorrow. I feel very, very happy in the mountains. That's where the knots that seem otherwise inextricable undo themselves. Most of the time I go alone, which I prefer. I like my tempo and I like to risk a path without knowing how it will continue. When you're travelling with other people they expect that you know what you're doing. But I don't always like knowing what I'm doing. I have such a positive need for control over my environment, which burdens me a great deal. I get very drawn into other people and try to make it as wonderful and exciting for them as I can. I can only escape this by being alone. When I have nobody around me I don't have the feeling of needing to help someone, make them happy, read them something or sing or explain the world.

Should one be afraid of death?

Most of the time I think: this is the way it is. I'm 55 years old and everything that comes after your 50th birthday is a gift. I have lived so intensively, that other people would need two lifetimes for it. I'm reconciled with death: I try to envision death as much as possible. In order not to be surprised and to not treat moments carelessly. Ten years ago I had malaria tropica. Back then I thought: that's it, there's nothing more. But I wasn't afraid, I was much more alarmed by aging an unbelievable amount in the shortest time. I was 42 years old and I felt like I was 90. I often couldn't run across the street, because I would have felt faint in the middle of the street. When I made longer journeys with the car I had to stop every 20 minutes and have a nap because I was so exhausted. I've long since completely recovered, but back then I didn't know if it would ever be over. And yet even then I just thought: this is just the way it is now.

Which love makes you happy?

There are a few things of which I am proud and that includes the fact that we are intact as a family and that my wife and I give our two children continuity and security. No matter how they may have screwed things up, they can come to us any time. A family is probably the most exciting and biggest project you can have. You see how difficult it is when you look around you. And what strength it requires not to make yourself important in the family, but rather say: I am an unpaid worker for you all. This love in and for my family makes me happy. Being in love is something completely different, it's an unbelievably insane intoxication - with everything that goes along with intoxication. Including the hangover afterwards. But what don't you put up with? And I'm not at all the kind of guy who renounces things. I recognise monk-like moods within me, but the older I get, the less seriously I take them.

Does life have a meaning?

That is an impossible question to which there can be no answer. I can only say for myself that life is beautiful. Whether beauty is meaningful - no idea. I like life and from my very personal viewpoint it makes sense. And my life is for the most part wonderful, because lots of people like me. That is the most important thing.