Downsizing

This week I have been full of energy. I feel calm, relaxed and present.
Who know where it comes from, but the feeling of disharmony in my life just disappeared. When it disappeared, something else came forward.

An inner determination. Motivation. Inspiration.

A voice that say that if you want to do something. You have to do it Now.

Gradually a longing for simplicity and focus has grown inside. All by itself. There is so much I want to do and I feel that it is no longer possible to procrastrinate. What has been has been. Now I have to do what I an in my new everyday life.
That means to let go of all distractions, bad habits and activities that does not really give me anything.

It is easy to find time to write, photography and contemplation when you are travelling and have all the time in the world. When I’m working and have responsibilities I have to make that time if I want it.
We do not need disciplin or willpower. What we need is to find out what we really want. The rest will take care of itself.

Simplicity does not mean single-minded.

During the weekend I cleared out my apartment. The wardrobes, the kitchen. Did laundry. Spent the time with friends who knows how to do nothing. That doesn’t look to others for entertainment.

Sunday evening life was simpler. It was me and Cow-Jesus.

A pen moving with inspiration.

A book that started to take form.

What it looks like

I have now photographed my photos at work for those of you who can’t come and look at them in place. It was kind of hard to make the photos look good because of the reflection but it gives you an idea at least. It looks way better in real life.

Sadly, I had to use a bunch of different frames since I didn’t want to spend a fortune on new frames, so it looks a bit disorganized, but all in all I’m very happy about how they look.

The last few weeks…

The last few weeks has been tougher than I like to admit.

To come home has been wonderful in so many ways, but also a battle with old enemies. A battle for my attention.

I have tried to put my finger on what is wrong here and with all my capacity try to  solve it once and for all. I look for security, confirmation and garantuees. A desire to concretisize what I have, put it in boxes, label it and lock it up in a safe, where I have the key, control.

Maybe this happen because of my confusion, my feeling of having no solid ground to stand on in my old world, or maybe it is because of us living in a society that keep on promising that which it can never fulfill. We are constantly bombarded by advertising that tell us to never settle. To never be content.

The more we focus on what we don’t have, what we are lacking, what we can have, the more the contrast increases, the distance to where we are standing right now.
The eternal dream that soon we will be happy. Always soon. To loose weight, get a new job, find satisfaction. Buy this, do that, think like this. Write a policy, organize life, live by principles.

The society we live in is sick. I have willingly been it’s patient.

But we must reach a point were we have had enough.

To stop.

Realize that we can never cure our existential conflicts with even more medication, because it was the side effects of the same medication that made us sick to begin with.

Realize that no matter how much we try, our mind will always use everything we say and do as a strategy to try to get what we think we want, what we think we need.

Our attempts to find a solution, our longing for security and confirmation, our obsession to find an answer, our striving and ambitions takes on a life on their own and start to reproduce themselves in a neverending loop we can never escape.

If the suit we are wearing is too tight, what we need is not more of them, but to take it off. Or maybe get a larger size.

Now, I’m leaving what has been behind me.
Every moment is a fresh start, an oppurtunity to communicate who we are not by words but by just being who we are. Because our words have nothing to do with our actions.

And I have used too many words.

No matter what I have said. No matter what I have done. No matter who I thought I was. No matter who I thought I would be. It’s enough.
I have straightened my back. Lost my past and I see no future.

The only thing I know for sure, is that I exist. Everything else is a castle made of air. And talking about castles of air is meaningless.

My photos

During ten months I shot 9978 photos. Out of all those I have saved 1751. Most of them are not very interesting or worth looking at for other people than myself, but out of them I have picked 45 photos that I especially like.

Today I put up a small exhibition with 23 of those photos at work. They will be hanging there for everyone to see them for at least a few weeks. To be honest it feels both great to see your own photos cover the walls of a room and strange to put my own stuff up for others to look at.
The feedback has been very positive so far, my manager told me to change my career (does she want me to leave?), but also a bit embarassing, recieving compliments from left and right.

Unfortunately not everyone can come by my office to watch the photos in big print, but if you come by my place after the exhibition at least some of them will cover my walls.
If that is not possible at all you can watch a slideshow of them on Flickr by clicking this link: Slideshow

You are more than welcome to buy prints of my photos. I will make sure they are printed and mailed in protective packaging in a standardized format to fit regular frames in whatever country you live in. I think I will be able to find an online print company that makes good quality stuff in each country needed so that I don’t have to ship them from Sweden.

Price and format in centimeter are:

40x50cm and 50x70cm – 600kr/US$80/€60
70x100cm – 900kr/US$120/€90

I’ll make sure that the prints are standardized to your country when printed.

So just let me know if you are interested or even if you are not, I would be happy if you want to share the link to this post on facebook, twitter or by e-mail to your friends. :D

The 23 I put up at work you can see below, the rest shows up here tomorrow.

Fast or slow?

When I started my trip in february, my friend Wayne sent me an e-mail:

“Matthew, knowing that you now have the time to ponder and to not rush into conclusions, I thought you might like this quote from Chuck Palahniuk:

“If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character…Would you slow down? Or speed up?”

My first reaction was to speed up.
If, suddenly, we no longer have to worry about death, then there is nothing stopping us from taking risks, do stupid things and run head first right into a wall. We can throw ourselves into the middle of the action, experience everything possible, run from activity to activity.
After all, a lot of the things we dream of, that we never end up doing, is because of the fear of letting go of our comfortable life, our security. Afraid to meet what life has to offer, insure of what we will meet if we move into the unknown.

But then the months started passing by, the stress I brought with me started to let go, my restlessness turned into a harmony of just being. I spent the days doing absolutely nothing. During a full month, I spoke maybe to three or for people, except for the ones in the market or the restaurant. Every day I slowed down in a way I have never done before.
Suddenly moving fast seemed completely meaningless. To rush from activity to activity could not compare to what I was experiencing from sitting on the roof of my spartan guest house, on a white plastic chair listening to the traffic slowly moving by like ants with their hands firmly rested on the horn. I could see eagles in the sky, the clouds sailing past on a bright blue sky. I sat there watching sunrise and sunset, the movement of palm leaves. To read an ordinary book felt like an effort not worth making.
It felt obvious, that life is better when lived slowly. Taking one thing at a time with focus and presence.

But, I allowed the question to rest in my mind and grow, without reaching for a decision and now when I’m back home, and has partly settled into a routine, I have decided to write down my thoughts.

What I have realized is that life is not about how to live it. Fast or slow. It’s a trick question.
When we think about how to live life to get the most out of it, we make a mistake that hinders instead of helps.
The question is not how to live our lives, because if it was, we would create a mental image of that life and then try to force reality to fit the picture instead of the opposite.

Life should not be lived fast or slow. It is just lived.
When we are “just” living, our entire being adjusts itself to the current situation, it becomes a response to what is happening in front of us. Using our past experiences in a creative way instead of trying to force life to follow old strategies that used to work but is no longer appropriate in a new situation.
To live slowly then becomes to allow things to take time without focusing on results and to live fast is not to rush from one thing to another, but to be fast in thought, that our brain is relaxed, flexible and free to act instead of being held back by rigid expectations or principles about how things should be.
Life then becomes both fast and slow at the same time, wether we do a lot or nothing, and our experiences becomes more satisfying because we are mentally relaxed. We can work hard and still be at peace inside or stare in to a wall for hours and still find ourselves being alert and alive and far from bored.

So, instead of deciding to live fast or slow in the way I first saw it, I realize the best answer to the question is to not answer it at all. Just allow things to develop in their own pace, in it’s own way. Rest when I feel tired, eat when I’m hungry, do things when I’m interested, plan things when necessary but not more than that and then lest the rest happen when it happen.

Life back home has been hard because it is so easy to fall back in an old way of being instead of embracing the new and I’m still trying to figure things out realizing that I will never make it. It is just old habits that has not been let go of.