Posts Tagged: simple living

strike down by the desert

This is one of last year participants personal story about the sahara experience. I love it and just in case you want to find out about yourself, let me know.

Ever heart the saying: “Send him to the desert’?” Where that might come from?
When I told my family and friends that I was about to walk through the desert, I was questioned: „Why would anyone walk so far?”, „Isn’t that meaningless?”, “That’s totally dangerous!”. When I added that I was about to go there because of work, they just felt pity for me and I already had the feeling that the trip was going to be worth it.

Actually I did not come back as a better person. I just remained myself.

I spent two of my days in desert on a camels back, riding or whatever you would call it. I think, it’s no difference if you sit in a small dinghy in a storm on the Ocean or suffer completely exhausted on such a desert ship longing for home. It rocks like hell.
I have a job in which a project is chasing the other and my rest periods on the weekends had not been sufficient anymore. While my mind was still in the last project, I already had to deal with the next. Nothing unusual nowadays. I’m already doing this job for quite some years. I changed the company lately. No big deal, I thought, but still it felt so damn wrong. I had the feeling that I’m not happy with my boss and it won’t work out well.

The desert trip, if I stay with this topic, was a way for me, to let all the thoughts that rushed through my mind come and go. I had the time and the space to think a thought from beginning to end and learn to accept. That worked for me.
I thought I need the full five days to deal with myself, but after two days of thinking I had it figured out and then the heat hit me, almost knocked me out. So I spent the next two and a half days learning yet another dimension of the desert on the camels back. I did not expect that to happen. Although I felt much better, I was now separated from the group. Well, it was a strike down by the desert.

It wasn’t before I was back home that I realized how much that small corner of the world had inspired and enriched my life.
There is so much to tell about diversity, experiences with nature and his own body, with people who just show up out of the nowhere and disappear back into the desert, about habits that are important to know, about communication and …
All this is accompanied in the wonderful, personal and professional way of Florian!

Jan R.

worlds end – in ibo

Just the other week, I met Jörg, a person who gave me an answer to the question: what it means to do something for the first time. More than 10 years ago he left his good paying job in Germany, got on his bike and hit the road South. I met him on a remote island in South East Africa in an old, long forgotten Portuguese town, many call it a hidden secret in the Indian Ocean.

What, where, why? As you may have read in earlier posts, I am traveling in Africa for a bit. During the Tanzanian elections which could turn out to become a chaotic catastrophe for the country and Zanzibar in special (which is another story to write about), we headed South into Moçambique to get an impression of that beautiful land of hidden mysteries.
While coming from Europe and Morocco already seemed to be out of different time and space but Tanzania is even more so. Surprisingly there is another huge gap to Moçambique. A country which not only had to fight against colonial rule but also against apartheid influences from South Africa and Rhodesia. Those countries were giving its best to destabilize the country which let to decades of civil war. That war didn’t end before the nineties when the devastated country had to be rebuilt from scratch, most of the cities, villages, industry and colonial heritage lying in ruins.
After flying in to Pemba, we stayed for two days, being very surprised that nothing has changed over the last 4 years while decay seemed to be in even further progress now. We left with a local bus which, like all other busses in Mocambique and for no obvious reason had to leave at 4:30 in the morning. Even more frustrating than the need to be at the bus station so early was the fact that the first hours the bus was driving around the town to hopefully pick up some more passengers. Busses in Mocambique go without schedule and if you really need to be somewhere that day you better be there at 4:30 because you never know when they are full and actually leave. What followed was a five hour backcountry overland drive. Half the 120km on a tarmac road, the other half on dirt tracks. Only very few settlements with only few houses each laid on our way, the whole land being dry as a bone, all the trees leafless and no grass to be seen anywhere.
Finally we reached a little place at the ocean or lets say where the ocean was supposed to be. We arrived at low tide and except for water we only saw mangrove forrest, which was crucial for us since we wanted to catch a ferry. That meant to sit down and wait for the water. Our ferry was a local dow that was to be sailed to our destination, together with a motor bike and some other 30 people on board. The sea better be calm, I thought. After another hour on the boat we reached the little island of Ibo, part of the Quirimba island in Quirimba national park in Northern Moçambique. Ibo used to be the Portuguese capital of Northern Moçambique and was an important trading post on the Portuguese spice route. At least until the harbor and Capital was moved to Pemba. Afterward the world forgot about Ibo, I seems. A place full of ancient ruins, forts and houses among those. A sand covered main road, with sidewalks left and right, nonetheless. A piece of lost paradise, if you can find it.
Some of these ancient houses found a loving new owner who built themselves something out of ruins, literally.

And that is how I met Jörg.

Jörg who took his bike 12 years ago together with a friend of his and drove South. Through Balkan, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania to Moçambique, later all the way to South Africa. The tour took them two year of traveling with some time spent at different places. On this route they discovered Ibo and while spending some time here, they saw complete Solar Eclipse and fall in love with this place. They knew they had to come back. Which they did, after completing their tour, having covered more than 12.000km by bike. Another two years later. They bought one of the completely destroyed ruins at the place. The one with the biggest trees around, two of them standing right in front of their house and they called it: Miti Miwiri http://www.mitimiwiri.com/n/ (two trees) or on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Miti-Miwiri-112186838817416/, nowadays one of the finest places in the area. It took them another two years to finally restore the building and have it up and running.
I guess that is how you break with all the conventions and just follow your heart. They didn’t do anything anymore, because they were expected to do so. All they did, they did only because they wanted to do it and on that road they found a passion and love to a place and decided to built something up. Still, friends and family called them nuts, now they go there for vacation. Sure, they had and have their hard times but they followed their heart and live their dream.

Do you have an inner calling? Listen to it!

natural building

Is it backward or forward thinking when you go back to construction techniques that are thousands of years old?

hard to view the green

Sometimes it’s hard to view the green between the rocks when you are in the desert.
And sometimes its hard to see the positive when you’re alive. I had quite a busy summer with a tragic car accident, an unexpected travel to morocco, an injured kid, a struggle with my land lord, a broken laptop, a broken car and a 100 miles ultra race I failed to complete.

While all of this happened in the last 6 weeks I didn’t manage to write my posts bilingual. If you know some German, check the German side of this blog or stay tuned, I am going to translate the written posts soon.

Anyhow, most things are on track again and I learned to accept that things happen the way they do. Once they did, you can’t change them.

Make the BEST of now!

ups and downs of minimalism

perspective matters

Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes it’s just the wrong time, sometimes it’s a bad thing altogether. Often we become angry, when things go wrong. At least, that happens to me all the time. Then I ask myself: why now, why me, why again, why so bad…

I don’t like being angry and when I am, I often become more angry because I’m angry with myself. Do you know what I mean?
Not long ago… yesterday to be exact, it happened again. I had so much stuff to do on the opposite side of town and I had to take my car, which as you may know is a 40year old 6t camping van: EMMA. I had to get some stuff for maintenance of the car. And voilá: half way through town my clutch stopped working. That sucks especially in inner city stop’n’go traffic. I somehow made it into a smaller street stopped and immediately climbed under my car. I wanted to find out what the problem is and keep going. I was in a hurry.
It took me a while to figure out that bars of the clutch were broken. Nothing I could do about it.
Oh boy, I was angry: Why now, why here, why me etc. The rest of the day I was pretty pissed off.

This morning I had another look at it and came to the conclusion:
I am so lucky it happened yesterday. I wasn’t somewhere in the mountains or in the desert. I wasn’t in Switzerland but in Berlin. I found a parking spot right away and was allowed to stay there for free. I was able to make all my yesterdays appointment by foot and on time. I already fixed (another part) of the clutch a year ago and knew what i was doing this time and the broken part is easy to replace after I found out which part it was. My MercedesBenz Oldtimer dealer is located near Berlin I could pick up the spare part by public transportation. And I hadn’t plan to drive anywhere special, today or tomorrow.

Well, its still a lot of stress and work, BUT it’s a question of your perspective. Once again I realized that it`s up to me to see the good or the bad, in any situation. If I compare any given situation with the best possible or do I take into account what could be worse. After all I can’t change the situation. I (or you) can just try to make the best out of it.

Every single moment, you decide about the quality in your life. Do you see the good or the bad? Do your best!

stuff statistic

One of the most inspiring people blogging about simplicity and minimalism is Joshua Becker from Arizona. He recently published some statistics for the US that might be interesting for European readers as well since we have the same tendency. I am posting an excerpt of Joshuas list that was originally posted here.

  1. There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
  2. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).
  3. And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).
  4. British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily (The Telegraph).
  5. 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA).
  6. The average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually (Forbes).
  7. While the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).
  8. American homes have more television sets than people. And those television sets are turned on for more than a third of the day—eight hours, 14 minutes (USA Today).
  9. Some reports indicate we consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago (The Story of Stuff).
  10. Currently, the 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe account for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one-third living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent (Worldwatch Institute).
  11. Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today).
  12. Shopping malls outnumber high schools. And 93% of teenage girls rank shopping as their favorite pastime (Affluenza).
  13. Women will spend more than eight years of their lives shopping (The Daily Mail).
  14. Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items.The research found we lose up to nine items every day—or 198,743 in a lifetime. Phones, keys, sunglasses, and paperwork top the list (The Daily Mail).
  15. Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal).

That I owned so much stuff over the last years is one part of the story, that I owned so much stuff I didn’t really need is the other. What about you?

what our brain does when it does nothing at all

I am so happy to present yet another wonderful post by Lisa. Without knowing she wrote about the reason why my sailing and Sahara seminars have such an impact:

Sometimes it happens, someone asks me:“What are you thinking about right now?“ Suddenly I am torn from my thoughts which were just wandering on their own. In order to come to a suitable answer I try to structure the chaos in my head and bring my thoughts into some order. But then my only answer is: “Well, nothing.at all“ Knowing that this is not true at all.

Because our brain never stops spinning the wheel.
Amazingly I find my own mind on special colorful routes, coming up with the most creative ideas when I am not productive at all. When I feel almost bored.
Like recently in Melbourne. Far away from my routines and social network I found myself with lots of time and my brain with unsuspected capacities. I used to stroll around without destination when my mind came up with a thunderstorm of thoughts – memories from my early childhood, the taste of long forgotten dishes; dialogues that have never happened; people I never met… it felt like a theatre play of my past, present and future mixed together with countless actors and endless storylines. Way too complex to put it into words. Daydreams…
Some brain researchers explain those moments with the so called DMN (Default Mode Network) which gets activated when our brain is not occupied with other tasks. The DMN does not respond to stimulations from the outer world but is specialized in introspection and the processing of experiences. This makes it essential for the construction of our identities: In an ongoing inner monologue we are telling our own story over and over again. As if the DMN is working itself through a huge pile of ‚post its‘ that were hidden in our unconsciousness. Piled there through our daily experiences. And it keeps assigning, structuring, reinterpreting. Building the basis for reflected decisions.
That is why we come up with creative ideas and complex troubleshooting when we less expect them… under the shower, taking a run, or staring at the ceiling.
But in our modern overstimulated world, tight schedules keep our brain constantly challenged. And we don’t have much time for letting our thoughts wander. That’s why my experience in Melbourne taught me to leave space for idleness. Because I am more in line with myself and my life when I let my thoughts wander around regularly.
Aristotle would be proud – in antiquity the highest value was idleness.

BUD principle

I love to own things. In my past I always wanted to own everything that somehow seemed interesting to me. I sometimes still have the tendency to do that. Most of the times I nowadays realize that it is not important to me to own stuff, but to actually use stuff.

So more and more often, before buying I ask myself the following question: Do I have any other possibility to use what I am aiming to buy other actually buying it. Often I come up with an idea of trying it out for a few times and then letting go again. Sometimes it works just fine to share stuff with somebody else. Sometimes I buy already used stuff because, it will be used the same the minute I unbox it.
I also buy things that I now I will hand on to somebody else and/or I am going to resell. That would even be better when I already bought it used. That’s almost like sharing.

Sharing is the new owning!

But, you know… sometimes there are these things that I just want to have. I am sure I am going to use it every day. For me those things have to be according to the BUD principle.

BUD: beautiful – useful – durable

I love beautiful things. I want my things to be beautiful. If resources are used and people put their time into producing something that I will spend my money on it shall be worth the effort and be something beautiful.

I also don’t want to carry a burden with me either. Stuff I own has to be useful. There are definitely many beautiful things that are not useful to me. They might be useful to somebody else. If I can’t find a reason why they are useful to me, they are meant for somebody else.

I want it to be durable. Why? If something is not durable and basically produced for the trashcan I don’t I want to buy it. I don’t want to own garbage.

When you buy stuff at all, always remember BUD!

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