In Tonio Kröger I encountered the words: “I want to sleep, but you have to dance.” All week I’ve been thinking about where I know these lines from, but it didn’t cross my mind.

I didn’t want to be on the net, my dreams were too important to me.

For the poem reminded me of my youth. The longing when you rest with a beloved woman. But she has to dance.

Did you experience that, too? He who loves has lost. Especially when you’re young.

Because they have to dance. Every day. Always.

There’s a whole world out there to conquer. What are a few dreams of love compared to it?


The poem reminded me of how I always stood apart. As I watched the hustle and bustle from afar, with sadness and longing in my heart. Not able to go to the others.

Maybe many feel the same, I don’t know.

I, for one, stood alone until my wish passed. Because at some point I didn’t want to go there anymore.

At some point you just want to feel your own heart, the wild longing and pain. And even more of the loneliness that makes the inside so cold, but the mind so free.


“I want to sleep, but you have to dance.”

Theodor Storm wrote these lines more than a hundred years ago.

Isn’t it as strange as a few words, thrown on paper generations ago, reaching out for our hearts through time? And throw us off course into another world?


The novella “Immensee” also deals with this.

An old man is sitting in a room waiting for the evening. But when the last ray of sunlight falls on a woman’s picture, he is thrown out of his life directly into the land of his memory.

He thinks of the girl Lisbeth, with whom he spent his childhood. The time when they grew older and their love blossomed quietly.

Unspoken, without ever explaining itself, but therefore no less profound and unifying.


But history shows us how the environment influences a young person. How Lisbeth is being driven into another man’s arms by her mother.

Because the old man was a poet. A seeker. Who possessed nothing but his dreams and his heart.

And what does that matter? What did it count in the past, what does it count today?


And so we still see the old man, sitting at the window in the dark, lost in his thoughts.


But did he possibly win more than he lost?

He may not have got the love he was looking for. But what did he gain in insight? The depth of feeling?

But also time to sit and indulge in his dreams?


Isn’t what you experience more important than what you win? Is the depth of feeling not far more important than the prize that beckons us at the end?

Maybe he didn’t really want to own Lisbeth because he was afraid of losing that depth.


If we only see things once, if we only touch them in passing, then they have a semblance that they do not otherwise possess and that memorizes itself in our minds.

Maybe we should keep our eyes sharpened for it.

To no longer own, to do more and to experience.

Let us be touched by things in passing. Deep in the heart.


Because someday we’ll sit at the window and remember. But about what?


But I’m tired. I need to sleep.

May someone else dance for me.


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