Let’s keep on going…

 

It is strange how things that we once took for granted, held on to as if our life depended on it, suddenly is nothing more than a memory.

Just like with everything.

Our opinions, thoughts, ideas, our friends and the things we have must never become so important that we desperately hold on to them, suffocating them.

Our lives must be like writing on water, one door close, another one opens up. The world we live in, the people we meet deserve to be taken seriously, but we must never take ourselves too seriously.

What I write here is important and completely meaningless, all at the same time. We must never think that the words we use has anything to do with what they describe. To hold on to what has been is asking for trouble.

We do what we do in the moment, then we let it go.

That is to be happy to me.

Today I will board another plane. Pack my bag yet another time, go through security, arrive at a new, yet old, destination. I have been there before, but every situation is unique.

I am grateful that someone has let me stay with them during my journey, and at the same time, willing to let it go, to become a memory in my past.

Next stop is Seattle again. The first day of the rest of my life.

Slaves

 

We are slaves in our own life for two reasons.

The first is that we believe we need external things to make us happy, the other that we think we can distract ourselves from being bored or unsatisfied with our lives.
As long as we think that material things can make us happy, we will always want more, more and more, but never really become satisfied. As long as we believe we have to live in luxury with food and wine to have a good time, we will always eat and drink too much.

As long as we can’t handle to be bored, sitting still without constantly looking for something to do, we will always be addicted to nicotine, caffeine, sugar, alcohol. When we learn what it means to be bored, we are no longer bored.

We will never give up something we think we need to make us happy. Why would we?

Break these mental ideas about how life has to be for us to be happy, and we no longer will be slaves to our surroundings.

Then, we can actually start enjoying it.

Language

 

As you might have noticed, I have separated the English and the Swedish texts. They are no longer published in the same post, but you can switch to the other language by clicking the flag in the right hand bar.

It looks better, and makes a lot more sense, this was how I wanted it from the beginning, unfortunately the system thinks of the posts as two separate posts and therefore sends out an e-mail for both langauges. I have contacted the developers of the langauge plugin to see if this is possible to fix, but I hope you can bear with this until it get fixed or if it never get fixed!

Action

 

We can think about living Life all we want, but in the end we just have to act. Take the risk of loosing it all, embarrassing ourselves and looking like fools.

We can write reports, forecasts, go to meetings for form commitees forever, but in the end the only thing that bring real experience and feedback is action.

All these procrastrianting activities, the need to always be certain is probably the best sign of decay of what we call the western culture.
We are like zombies walking around without direction and only disaster will wake us upp.
Too bad they saved the financial system back in 2008, but don’t worry, there will be another chance. Maybe we will wake up when the water from melted ice caps in the Arctics come flooding in under our front doors.
It fills me with a feeling of both depression and expectations.

It’s going to be interesting times ahead.

 

Sydney

As you might know, the reason I am now in Sydney is not because I am that interested in laying on the beach getting a tan (I haven’t gone for a swim yet), but that my sister Jennie lives here.

Jennie has been in Australia for around seven years, first four of them in Adelaide in the state of South Australia, where she finished her postgraduate studies in Bio Medicine. After that she got a job at an institute today called NeuroScience Research Australia here in Sydney, where she is doing research which to me is completely impossible to understand.

Not only that she lives on the other side of the planet, meaning you only get to see here once a year at best, she is also doing something that for most people is unexplainable. To read her doctoral theses or her articles is about as interesting as trying to read a chinese newspaper. The only thing you can comment on is the layout or the images.

Luckily there is something in this field that you can show that people can understand.

The Laboratory.

Sure, I don’t know what all the machines do, but it brings you back to the chemistry classes in school and you can nod and be a bit impressed when she tells you what these intricate tools cost. Not that it makes her work more understandable or that the price really matters, but at least you can get that important things are going on in here.

This is how fun it is to work in a lab!

Alone

 

Sometimes when I listen to what I say, reading something I have written earlier, it sometimes sounds like I am against everything, that the lives we live are empty and the society we live it in is rotten to it’s core. Sure, sometimes I do feel like that, but in the big picture life is great and most things we do is good.

I am a person that question things though. Mostly myself and my own behaviour. I think about why we so often talk without really have anything to say, how come we so often talk about the weather?
I do these things often myself, but what I’m saying is that if we are in the same place, it’s kind of obvious what the weather is like and why do we need to constantly state the obvious? And if we are in different places, how does it matter anyway?
I could tell you that today it is cloudy and around 20 degrees. It creates a mental image in you, something you can relate to, a feeling that you know what I experience. But the truth is, I can never share my experience with you. The only way would be to experience the same thing, but that is not possible either. Even if we where at the same place at the same time, your experience would be yours only. Similar, but at the same time completely different.

It is obvious, yet we do these things all the time, creating the illusion that we live in the same world, despite the fact that everyone is confined to their own. Often, there is another reason behind our behaviour.
Finally we have to realize that no one can experience someone elses experience. No matter how hard we try we are always completely alone. Isolated. Like islands without a connection.
It is like trying to explain to someone who has never tried what a mango taste like. It’s impossible. The only way is to try it themselves.

It might feel depressing to think like that, but in the end we are completely alone and when we acknowledge that and learn to live with it, we can also see how far our minds are willing to go to avoid this loneliness.
This desperate need for relations create a lot of conflict, we give in to peer pressure, adjust to others’ will and sacrifice our integrity. Compromising the things we value in life.

The paradox is that only when we are ok with being alone that we can truly get to know other people. When we stop looking for someone or something else to complete us or make us happy. When we look for companionship, not because we need it, but because we enjoy it.
It is considered egotistical to put yourself first, but do we really serve anyone else by sacrificing ourselves? Is it not when we put our own well being first that we can truly be there for others?

I’m not saying you should not look for company in others, sharing our life. It is after all, one of the things that make life worth living.
How much fun would life be if all musicians only played home, alone or if all authors wrote books and then put them in their own bookshelves.
All I’m saying is that it is worth the time to look why we do things, the real reason for it. Why for instance I write this blog to share my trip with you, when I know you can never see what I see.
Maybe there is no good answer, but it is worth it to ask the question.

Where is our motivation?

 

When I was on the plane from Istanbul to Mumbai I end up next to a young girl, born and raised in the giant city that is our destination, on the way home from London to visit the family. I don’t remember what she was studying, I think it was medicin, just like a lot of Indians in the West.
During the flight she finds a friend on the same plane also on his way home from London and she asks me if we can trade places for a while. In the new seat, I find myself next to another Indian, about 25 years old, who surprisingly starts speaking to me in Swedish.
It turns out he has lived almost four years in Sweden, studying computer science at KTH, the Royal Technichal College and is now on the way home to Hyderabad. He guessed I was swedish from looking at the book I was reading and we ended up talking for a few hours mainly speaking Swedish.

I don’t remember his name, but he confirmed some things I had read just before leaving in the book “Be a winner in the global world”, by Fredrik Härén.
Fredrik has by interviews and studies around the world found out that things are changing, something my unknown friend in the seat next to me has realized too. After his studies he got hired for some projects, but he had to work hard to prove himself, one of the projects he even started working for free to give them time to see he was useful. He was doing better now, but still only got one month at a time, so despite doing good, he was on his way home to visit family and get certified, something he paid for himself. His plan was that after a few more years in Sweden, he wants to move back to Hyderabad and start his own business.

Here in Australia there are a lot of Asians coming here to study and work, just like in the U.S., England or Sweden. More and more exchange students is showing up in Swedish schools. Just like here down under.
In Australia there are many who has a negative view towards all immigration, despite having some of the toughest rules in the world. Just like in the rest of the western world the old arguments show up that they are taking our jobs. It is more open here than in Sweden, but despite this my sister has rather heard that “in your case, it’s ok, because you are like us!”. Apparently it’s ok for Swede to steal aussie’s jobs.

What we miss though, confirmed by both Fredrik and the guy next to me, is that maybe before, people came and stayed, but more and more they are moving back home. They might stay a few years to gain experience, but in the long run there are more oppurtunities in cities like Bangalore, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Seoul and Hong Kong.
Sure, a lot of asian countries has problems that has been solved in the west already, and we do still have the edge, but that edge is getting smaller and smaller and being the first is becoming a problem. We are developed, done. We have already come up with everything worth coming up with.
Asia is the underdog. More open to try new things, take risks and a more processoriented way of thinking which is better in todays business setting. They have a higher motivation and they want not only our factories, they want our high end jobs too. The future is in the east and they know that now. We don’t.

We still think we are ahead in the game, we have defined ourselves as developed and because of that we have forgotten how to be creative and flexible. We think we are there to help them, afraid that everyone wants to move to our countries stealing our jobs, but soon we will be the ones begging for help. Not soon either, it is already happening while we are stagnating and debating what to do instead of acting.
While we whine about everything we don’t have instead of enjoying what we do have we are loosing the base for our wealth: our motivation and our creativity. We are rich and spoiled and it is hard to be equally motivated as someone who only had a dream to have what we have.

It is not enough to work harder and longer like some people want, our long experience is becoming a handicap. They have the same education as us, but they are more motivated, embrace change and more creative and often they work for less.
They only way we can stop lagging behind is if we start to nourish our creativity, try new things and also embrace as the only constant. We need to stop focus on what we don’t have and how many hours we work and isntead focus on what we do and how to do it. It is more important to do the right thing instead of just being productive.

I don’t mean to make this about us versus them, but rather to point out that we need a change of attitude, stop being spoiled kids that expects others to solve our problems for us, to again find our inner, self-sustained motivation. Because given how things are right now, they deserve to succeed.

Plans

 

There is now about one and a half month left of my journey before returning home. Back to reality as the expression goes. Not that it gets more or less real, only different. But still, it’s obvious that there will be more demand for responsibility, more planning and a way of living that I haven’t lived during this trip.

There will be a process of assimilation and I don’t know what that will feel like. I’ve been thinking about it, but have no need to figure things out now what it will feel like later. That is just a waste of time.
I know my life will be different, I know I will want to live it in a new way. Not because I have a plan, but simply because I am a different person than before.
I have no plan for what will happen. Planning is something I have more and more let go of and I realize that it is quite meaningless. If we look close enough, we realize that we have very little control over our lives and the world that surround us. Things might change in a second and suddenly we are heading in a different direction than before.

That realization can either be very scary or very liberating.

Decisions that need to be made will be made, problems that occur will be solved one way or another. Some days will be up, some will be down. No matter what, all is well.

For exampel, I sat down to write about voluntary simplicity, but instead all of this showed up. I will have to write about that some other day, or maybe I don’t do it at all. If you think about it, it really doesn’t matter does it? The only thing that matters is what you do right now. And if I focus on now, life is pretty easy to live.
It doesn’t mean you don’t make plans for the future, that you don’t have ideas about what to do and how to do it, what it means is that you make the plans but know that they might change. Nothing is fixed, you act in accordance with the current situation and not how it was supposed to be according to your plans.

In a way, that is voluntary simplicity. Though I didn’t think like that ten minutes ago.

To good to be true

 

Some people thought I should send in my “we like different” article to some newspapers, so I did. I sent it to the debate news site Newsmill.se that published the article today. You can read it here, unfortunately only in Swedish. (But you can still read the English version here on the blog).?
Newsmill is owned by one of the big media houses Bonniers, so they are not entirely neutral, but at the same time it is one of the few really alive and good debate sites available today when most newspapers are to politically correct to discuss the real issues going on.

Except for this, today has been a windy and warm day here in Sydney. My sister Jennie and me wen to Parc, about ten minutes away from here, for brunch. After brunch, we came back home and realized we were running out of Internet. Sounds pretty strange, and it is. Something I have realized after living in Sweden and spending the last months on the west coast in the United States is that I have started to take free internet everywhere as a given.
In Australia, or at least in Sydney, internet is not a given. The places that offers internet either charge for it or you have to ask the staff for a personal username and password that can be used for one hour only. My sister pays $130 dollars a month for Internet and a landline at home och then they can only use a maximum of 30gb. Those 30gb ran out today, with one week until they get a new quota. That is of course mostly my fault, but still it feels a bit backwards to have a limit for something you pay that amount of money for.

Of course you can’t live without Internet for a week, everyone knows that, so I told Jennie to call customer service and see if they could do something. After being on the phone to Optus in more than one hour, with four different Indians (do they have their office in Bangalore in those buildings I wrote about in march?), she managed to get the limit temporary taken off and also get a new plan with 120gb/month paying $50 less per month. Well invested time although she was forced to listen to too loud crap lounge music while being transferred between different departments with the comment that “we are not qualified to solve this problem”.

Since my job back home in Sweden partly is in customer service/support and outsourcing it really makes you think about this stuff. And just this day, when all this happened, one of my favourite comics xkcd.com was just about this. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

 

Souvenirs

 

In the spring of 2004 I went to Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in Germany, visiting friends. One day we went on a small tour around the area and arrived at a store known for it’s ceramics and cristals. I was still a student back then, so I really couldn’t afford to buy much in that store, but when I was walking around in there looking at things, I suddenly got this urge to buy something to bring back home.

I didn’t know what to buy, but at the counter there was a box with different kinds of magnets you put on the fridge, made out of ceramics and costing only a few euros each. So I bought a few of them, just to buy something.

When I came home I got that feeling you often get from souvenirs. Why did I buy this? The small things I had bought was completely meaningless. I still can not understand what I was thinking about but I still remember how embaressing it felt when I got home.
I think that most people realize how meaningless souvenirs usually are, but when you are somewhere, walking around in the stores they are all over the place. It is so easy to just reach out and grab one, because we believe that the places we visit will be easier to remember if we have something from that place. The trip becomes a bit more real. Solid.

Among the things I bought, one was a cow. Behind each “KLÖV” and behind the head there was a magnet. I still have that cow. I have it hanging in my kitchen on the magnet on the wall where you hang your knives, arms stretched out, feet crossed.

Like Jesus on the cross.

Jesus-the-cow is my reminder to myself to stop wasting time, money and energy on things that really don’t matter.

And maybe, Jesus-the-cow is the cheapest lesson in the art of living I have ever recieved.

At least I haven’t bought any souvenirs since then.