Gibs auf

It was very early in the morning, the streets were clean and empty, and I was going to the rail station. As I compared the clock on the tower with my watch, I saw that it was already much later than I had thought; I had to really hurry up — the shock of this discovery left me unsure of my way. I didn’t know my way around this city well yet; luckily, there was a constable nearby, and I ran to him and breathlessly asked the way. He laughed and said to me, ‘From me, you want to find the way?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘cause I can’t find it by myself.’ ‘Give up, give up,’ he said, and turned away with a dramatic gesture, as people do when they want to be alone with their laughter.
     Franz Kafka


Not, as far as I’m concerned, ‘give up trying to find your way to the station’ altogether (though that’s a plausible enough interpretation, and may even be the outcome of the ‘giving up’ I propose); but ‘give up the anxious frenzy that’s confusing you in the first place’. ‘Give up’ agitation over things that lie outwith your capacity to determine, and figure out what you’re going to do, running late, disoriented, with places to go. Maybe hunker down right here and give up the journey; maybe give up the idea that other people can solve your perplexities for you; maybe give up the fretfulness that doesn’t advance your well-being in any regard. Maybe, yes, just plain give up — but not only just give up.

2 thoughts on “Gibs auf

  1. “Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy” I choose to counter Kafka with Churchill

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