Why do I imagine childhood
›I imagine being dead relaxing‹
The author holds conversations ›Auf Leben und Tod‹, this time with Armin Wolf, presenter of ›Zeit im Bild 2‹ on ORF.
Armin Wolf, when did you first consciously experience death?
I was five and a half then. Like every Saturday, we went to my grandparents who had a small grocery shop in Innsbruck. The neighbor came up to us on the stairs and whispered in my mom's ear. I later found out that my grandpa, whom I loved very much, had a stroke while shaving, fell in the bathtub and was dead. A few days later, my sister and I weren't allowed to go to the funeral because my parents thought we were too young for that.
Would you like to have gone there?
It took me a long time to go to a funeral for the first time and it wasn't until much later that I thought about it, but in retrospect I would have loved to say goodbye to my grandpa. When I was 34 my mother died. She had cancer, so it didn't come as a surprise. When I was forty, my grandmother died, with whom I had a very close relationship and because of whom I went to Innsbruck as often as possible. Your death hit me very badly. And then my father died five years ago.
How has death changed for you?
I had a very good relationship with my mother and my father, but it is different when the second parent dies - because suddenly you are no longer a child. In this respect, the death of my father was particularly drastic for me. I was already 45 and still had the feeling: Now my childhood is ending. Of course, before that I also had the feeling of being an adult, but actually it was only then that I realized and felt: Now it is finally time to grow up. (laughs)
Has death preoccupied you over the years or was it discussed in your family?
For my mother it was a release. She was sick for a long time and just wanted to die more. She had lung cancer and then had a good phase after chemo, but then suddenly there was a brain tumor. She was only in the hospital for a few weeks and immediately said: I don't like anymore. Death was a release for them. My grandma turned 95, so you can't complain. It was different with my father, he was only 75, had a very rare form of leukemia and it was not nice to see this big and strong man getting weaker every day and having more and more problems walking up a floor. My aunt died this January: a year and a half ago she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and that she only had a few weeks to live. She didn't want any treatment and the weeks turned into half a year, then a full one. At the end of November she came to the hospice because she was rapidly deteriorating. I visited her often and could literally watch her die. That was not nice. I think it's very important that there are hospices and the work that is being done is great. But it was bad for me to watch. She said from day one that it should end now, please. And then she lay on her back for six weeks until she was very sore, despite the special bed, and was drowsy with medication, with fewer and fewer waking moments. I would have liked it to go faster for her. And I wouldn't want that for myself.
Did this slow death experience scare you of death?
I don't think I'm afraid of dying. I would be afraid of being sick. Before the dawn, the sick, months of pain. If I fell like my grandpa tomorrow, that would be okay with me. I am satisfied and at peace with my life. It's gotten a lot better than I ever imagined as a kid.
What are you happy about in your life?
That I have a wonderful family and that something has obviously gone well that I was very unsure about, namely whether I am good with children. I have no birth children, but two bonus children with whom I have a really good relationship, a great wife and we have a very nice family life. I'm happy about that. My professional life is also a lot more interesting than I imagined when I was 14 when I wanted to be a bank clerk. I've done a lot of things that I wouldn't have expected and as a foreign policy editor I've been to countries I never thought I'd see. I have wonderful friends, some for thirty years and some only for a few years. It's very okay, my life.
Do you weight work and personal life?
I want to work in such a way that I don't feel like I'm wasting my life. But if I were to win the mega jackpot at the Euromillions, I am not entirely sure whether I would still be sitting in a television studio at 10 p.m. three times a week. But a jackpot wouldn't change my personal life.
How do you want to die?
I would like to, like most people probably, just fall over and be dead. Or fall asleep and never wake up.
Even at the risk of not being able to say goodbye?
Pff, do you have to say goodbye? It's actually just sad for the others.
How do you imagine being dead?
Nice. And peaceful. Like sleeping without dreaming. I imagine being dead very relaxing.
When you were in your early 40s, you took a break from your job for nine months and did a sabbatical. Why was that important to you?
Because I started an MBA and realized that writing a good thesis while doing my job is getting too much for me. I started at ORF the day after my Matura and studied on the side - that's why it took forty semesters to get my doctorate. (laughs) And then I thought, when I am over forty, I'll just try student life for half a year and it was just great!
Many people would like a break from their current job, but are afraid to change something again. How important is it to you to keep learning?
Why else should I get older? I don't think getting older has any great advantages other than getting smarter.
Many people find security is an asset. You go to school, get a job and then it's idle until you retire, where some things are restarted.
That’s absolutely terrible! Forty years of idle time is horrible. I don't look forward to my pension every day, although that is certainly nice, but I don't live for it. I think one of the best things to do in life is to learn. That's why journalism is such a great job: you learn something new every day and get paid for it. I have to like what I do all day too. I would find a job terrible that I have to work eight hours a day so that I can finally do what I enjoy after 6 p.m.
Do you reserve this option that you would also change your work life from one day to the next?
If I wasn't happy about my work anymore, I would do something else, yes. Of course, I get angry and frustrated in this job at times. But if I felt like it's just idling and I'm only doing it to pay my rent and my real life doesn't start until after the show - I couldn't take it. I spend too much time here for that.
You are very much in the public eye through your work, how do you deal with it? Does that affect how you live your life?
Not much. I just try not to behave badly in public, but that was the case before, my mother raised me halfway. I didn't riot in the street before either. Today I would no longer ride the underground underground, which I - I am now making a confession, has been barred for decades - sometimes did when I was in my early twenties. in the default-Forum once wrote that the wolf must be an asshole, he pushed his way through a long queue in the travel agency and said: 'Don't you know who I am?' I thought I wouldn't be any more than I read this have. Before I did that, I'd rather drop dead. I would be so embarrassed.
What else do you want to do in this life?
Until a few years ago I would have said: play the piano and learn French - but I probably won't be able to do either. I've tried to learn the piano several times, but I'm too undisciplined and I can't read sheet music either. I have a dream that I would love to get rich with if I knew how to do it technically: to invent pills that give you certain skills. In other words, tablets with which one could simply swallow languages or musical skills. They then cost different amounts, for example ten euros for the tablet ›tourist Italian for a weekend‹ or 10,000 euros for ›five years of Mandarin business fluent‹. Or ›concert pianist for life‹ for 50,000 euros. I would save that for myself. I would love to play Bach sonatas for my wife in the evening.
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