Life was easy when there were lions everywhere. You know, like back in the stone ages. Life had a clear purpose: stay away from big animals with big teeth. The fear of being digested without one’s consent was pretty constant, and it was there for good reason. A bush could turn into a lion, which could turn an unsuspecting Homo sapiens into a tasty schnitzel. Those were the good days. Fear was like our benevolent queen, ruling over us and steering us in the right direction. It was clear what she wanted from us. She loved us, we loved her, and the whole world was a huge party with our queen setting the mood.

Nowadays she’s still there, but she’s wearing headphones and chilling out in the corner, just waiting for something to finally happen. Lions haven’t been part of our day-to-day life for thousands of years, and fear doesn’t really know what to do with herself anymore. In our 50 m2 Viennese flats, she amuses herself by turning into social anxiety from time to time, but that’s just irritating. She’ll occasionally wake up from her slumber during an earthquake or during that particular exam you’re having to repeat once too often …but otherwise, I miss her. Though every time I’ve done something worthwhile, she’s also been there. Every time I’ve given a good concert, she’s been by my side in all her glory as I warmed up. Every time I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, she’s clung to me. And I love her for all this. I love her, and I’m worried. And as she sleeps, I’m gazing out the window and thinking.

I’m afraid life’s getting too comfortable in this city. I’m afraid our huge apartments are like cozy traps that are hard to get out of once you’re inside. I’m afraid that when I’m 40 and someone asks me how my younger years in Vienna were, I’ll just smile a bit and say: “They were ok, I guess”. I’m afraid of earning money but having few stories to tell. I’m afraid that some monster—way bigger than a lion—has been slowly digesting us all for years without our even realizing it. I’m afraid we’re all stuck in the belly of some outsized comfort-creature…. The bored queen has risen, and she’s standing by the window, waiting for lions. I hope they’ll be back soon. Life was so much easier when they were around…

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