There I was, standing with a paintbrush in my hand, in the Swedish middle of nowhere, stroke from right to left, left to right, a monotone movement and thought about Beppo’s words:
„You see, Momo,’ he told her one day, ‘it’s like this. Sometimes, when you have a very long street ahead of you, you think how terribly long it is and feel sure you will never get it swept.’
He gazed silently into space before continuing. ‘And then you start to hurry,’ he went on. ‘You work faster and faster, and every time you look up there seems to be just as much left to sweep as before, and you try even harder, and you panic, and in the end you’re out of breath and have to stop – and still the street stretches away in front of you. That’s not the way to do it.’
He pondered a while. Then he said, ‘You must never think of the whole street at once, understand? You must only concentrate on the next step, the next breath, the next stroke of the broom, and the next, and the next. Nothing else.’
Again he paused for thought before adding, ‘That way you enjoy your work, which is important, because then you make a good job of it. And that’s how it ought to be.’
There was another long silence. At last he went on, ‘And all at once, before you know it, you find you’ve swept the whole street clean, bit by bit. What’s more, you aren’t out of breath.’ He nodded to himself. ‘That’s important, too,’ he concluded.”
Beppo, a street-cleaner of Michael Ende’s „Momo“, describes something very simple and at the same time very powerful.
Having a goal in front of our eyes but yet so far away, we reach for our goal and can’t wait to acquire it. We want our goal NOW (hello instant generation) and not when we have walked the path.
We are chasing after our future and want to leave the present behind us as fast as we can. We want to save time wherever we can to reach our goal even faster.
And we forget to enjoy the moment.
Why? Because of the Men in Grey.
The Men in Grey
They lurk at every corner, promise fame and wealth, and give us the newest toys that are neither non-permanent nor particularly pretty.
Materialism is their slogan, they advertise on every wall, on the bus, in the train, on the radio, on TV.
They create our hunger for more toys that we don’t need.
We give them our time because they promise our lives would gain profit when we save more time, work more and care less about the people close to us.
With this power, they cause our lives to become more and more grey – grey like their suits. They make us book the colorful vacation for which we work even more just to escape our grey everyday life.
We only realize what the Men in Grey do in moments of rest.
They steal our time.
When we sit still and listen to the melody of our hearts, our life music which rests deep within us and conjures a smile on our face.
It’s those moments in which our lives are more colorful and happier.
When we wish for standstill on the always turning carrousel of time that is handled by the Men in Grey.
Why do we give them so much power over our lives?
Shouldn’t we stand at the handle of the time carousel?
What makes Momo so special?
Momo asks „why?“
Momo isn’t afraid to ask „why?“. She wants to understand people’s actions, wants to understand the world around her, and wants to know what’s happening in her friend’s minds. A simple question but yet so powerful.
Do we dare to ask “why?” often enough? Or do people think it’s an affront?
Do you remember the scene when Momo listens patiently the seemingly mute canary and all of the sudden he starts singing?
When was the last time you listened to your neighbor? Or listened to the old lady at the bus stop who wants to exchange a few kind words because she doesn’t have anyone else in her life? When do we actually actively listen?
Momo has everything she needs
When Beppo gives her a chalkboard FROM THE GARBAGE, she smiles. To her, only the gesture and joy that are within this present, count as well as the function behind it (Beppo teaches her to read with it).
Later the Men in Grey present dolls with metallic voices demanding more and more dresses.
„What’s wrong with the dolls?“
„I think you cannot love them“
„That’s not what it is about“
What is it about? What’s important? What do we need? Do we need expensive toys with that we can’t interact with, but look nice and raise our status?
Momo doesn’t need much, she has everything she needs: Food, water, a roof over her head, warmth and friends.
The path is the goal
And then there is Kassiopeia, master Hora’s tortoise. She walks slowly along her path and is at the right time at the right place, swims in the universe’s flow, is one with it, is in the flow.
Momo trusts Kassiopeia and follows her without a question.
When did we lose our trust in ourselves and in our path?
Momo – as relevant as ever
I really enjoy having time at the moment. I walk step by step – by the way also with a tortoise but that’s another story and will be told somewhere else 😉
I think of the future once in a while but try to focus on the here and now.
Enjoy what’s happening, enjoy the time that passes by so slow like it hasn’t been for ages.
Sometimes time seems to stand still and my thoughts wander back to Beppo and Momo and of course to the Men in Grey.
“Momo” was published in 1973! But I think Momo is as relevant as ever.
The Men in Grey are not characters in a novel anymore, they jumped out of the story and spook around in our reality. Seduce people to save time whenever they can.
We need Momo because she shows us that our time belongs to us and not to the Men in Grey.
We need Momo because she gives impulses.
Momo is not just a kid. She is a reminder of what is important in life:
Be curious and ask „why?“ to better understand the world.
Enjoy the little things and gestures in life.
Feel the limitless fantasy and the inner child within you.
Take your time.
If every one of us would be a little bit like Momo, our time would pass slower, we would laugh more, we would listen and some of us would maybe even start singing.
Let’s be more like Momo 😉