Over the past few days I have been notifying people via newsletters and various social networks of my decision to hand over my Sanet businesses to a highly capable successor.
The response has been more than just a bit irksome – I only see one way to interpret the hundreds of ‘likes’ my posts have received – that everyone had been waiting for the day that I would throw in the towel. It was painful.
And then there were the phone calls! It was not just the fact, that none of the callers tried to cheer me up, but also how most of them wished me congratulations (albeit quite sanctimoniously). Some even went so far as to ask half-critically why none of my children wished to take over the business.
Were they trying to figure out whether I had perhaps failed in this area as well? Was I not exemplary of a model father either? Does my son only have an IT company today because he was forced to lock himself in a room with computers so he could avoid seeing his dad all the time, even as a young boy? Is my daughter, a budding prospect with the criminal police, always chasing robbers and murderers to compensate for the criminal proclivities of her father? As for my youngest, is he studying IT because he sees his brother as someone more worth emulating than myself?
My doubts continued to grow. Looking back at my life, it began to feel as if I had been living my whole life in the shadows.
I experienced a similarly traumatic experience as a young student. Only days after becoming a proud scholarship recipient from the Institute for Highly Gifted Students, part of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the institution decided, much to my disbelief, to change its name. Now they were simply known as the Institute for Gifted Students. Even today, I still wonder if the demotion to “gifted students“ had something to do with my being there. Was the term “highly gifted“ just not accurate anymore, now that I was amongst the scholarship recipients?
Then there was conscription! After finally having worked my way through the ranks of the system up to the position of reserve officer, they decided to do away with the compulsory enlisting. Was the military just trying to avoid risking that other people like myself would be given the reins as soldiers in times of crisis?
Even the CDU, which I helped build in various capacities while in Hessen during the 60s, forgot to wish me congratulations on my fifty years of membership. What’s more, a certain Ms. Merkel is currently doing all she can to cancel my membership’s class altogether. Is this because the party has been unable to get rid of party members like myself up to this point?
I recently heard the wise words of a woman on the radio, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten:“Growing old is not for the weak of heart”. Opponents boldly leave their covered positions and the successes of yesteryear could not seem further away. Dinosaurs of business are laughed at just like the staff sergeants who used to tell the children of their heroic deeds during expeditions through Russia.
Nevertheless, there are some things to celebrate about getting older. When you wake up in the morning and hear the grinding of your rusty metallic kneecaps and your heart beating at an atypical pace, then at least you know: you aren’t dead yet!
It is also not the end of the world to grasp your own replaceability. There are already enough people resting in cemeteries thinking they were irreplaceable!
Who knows, maybe it is not too late for me to understand life as simply being a vacation from eternity. In that case, I guess I will keep smashing the ‘like’ button for life.