Sunday, 20 September 2015

A moment in your life

As my wife and I finished watching "The Orange Girl" (an adaptation of Jostein Gaarder's novel Appelsinpiken) a few minutes ago I saw this right in front of us on our coffee table:

I decided to capture the moment. "Nothing lasts forever. The moment is everything" are two lines from the movie mentioned above. While I was writing these few lines everything changed - an infinite times.
The moment you see on the picture above is gone forever. But the picture proves that it was there - at least for me and at least as long as my memory will be able to (re)construct it. This moment has become a vivid part of my personal story. Like so many others before, it will fade and reappear. When I see the picture, or think of the movie, of my wife or of this sunday afternoon. Maybe I will tell a friend about it or maybe I'll recall it the next time I see a coffee table.

Our lives are full of moments - you know it as well as I do. All that keeps them together are ourselves,
the stories we are. We all seem to be a part of one great story - and we all are adding new lines to it every moment. The difficulty is to be author and main protagonist at the same time. Or putting it more precisely:
Many of us are authors and actors in many different plays which overlap at different parts of their plots
(another thought I might have borrowed from Gaarder but this time all credit goes to Sophie's World ).

No one of course can prove that such a point of view is true. For this, one would have to be able to seize the infinite or in different words: know all the stories told, in the making or yet about to be written. In the end, however, I don't think that it is important whether this metaphor is more or less adequate. What seems to be way more important is the insight you might gain from choosing such a perspective (if only for a while):
do you like your own story? Do you like the stories of others? Which parts do you want to play, for whom and when? Which changes do you desire - which ones you do not?

The transitoriness of every moment leaves you essentially with a choice you have with every breath you take - as Shakespear put it famously: "To be, or not to be, that is the question". We can not escape this question as long as we are alive and part of this world. But we are free to find new answers by choosing new approaches to the question itself. We are free to discover the different faces of life. And we are always free to find consolation in the thought that at the end of our personal story we have enriched the world by our sheer existence.

This is what I believe in and why I choose to be.
At least for the moment.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Unexpected Virtue of Identity

It`s been a long time since my last post and I wonder if you out there still exist.
Today as I wake up for the second time on this, so far, marvellous day, the sun is shining through our huge window. I blink for a moment and decide to go out into the world (Hamburg it is nowadays - in case you wonder :)). Taking pictures of the nature around me, I get lost in the beauty of the moment. My wife had to leave way earlier in the morning and is now on her way through this amazing place around us we call "world". I read a book. I drink some tea. I see the headline on a german news page saying "No German Identity without Ausschwitz" - it`s the 70th commemoration day of its liberation. I contemplate and I wonder.

Enough italics.

If you look at this wonderful world outside you - even as a part of German society, culture, history you can`t deny its infinite beauty. You also can`t deny that Ausschwitz - and everything it stands for - is  part of this world as well. You don`t have to go back in history to see the cruelty of it: people fighting for existence, for dogmas, for power, for wealth - humiliating, hurting, torturing, killing each other. And you wonder how, how could one make this craziness stop? Then you reflect upon your own deeds, your own beeing and try to understand what it means to be a human being. You read smart books, with even smarter titles, you think, you have moments of clear insight, you feel elevated until the next experience which shatters everything you thought would be right. You get insecure, look for new insights, new paths to follow because you feel that this world is way to beautiful to be a place of hatred, cruelty and unnecessary suffering. And again you find your own experience proving you wrong, showing that ideals of beauty ad harmony are far away from the reality inside yourself. And how, you conclude, can there be a constant beautiful world outside for everyone if I can`t make it happen even for myself.

Then, suddenly, you see this guy smiling at you. You double-check it. It`s not Uncle Ben`s.  Usually he`s old, bold and not dark skinned. Usually he`s a monk. Sometimes he`s not. But always, always you find him saying: "Meditation is the key to eternal happiness". And naturally you`re like
"nice! How do I do it?"
"All there is, is following your breath and being aware"
"Ok, cool. And what do I do if I get bored?"
"Boredom is an illusion"
"Yeah, wait a second. I can tell when I am bored - what do you mean it`s an illusion?"
(Imagine supreme laughter of higher wisdom, followed by) "I ? What is this I ?"
"What do you mean what is this `I`?"
(More of the supreme laughter)

Let`s stop here. Without having to deal with the numerous variants of the following dia-, no wait mono-, no still not this one... ah got it: zerolog, you know where the promise of eternal happiness will depend upon:
Whether or not you are ready to give up your Identity. `Cause let`s be honest: the world would be a much better place without all the big EGOs running around trying to fight for their existence. You wouldn`t care for wealth because wealth is relative and only measurable in contrast to other peoples perception of it - to their EGOs. Or power, because the idea of power rests on certain EGOs having more influence on the existence of other EGOs. Or even dogmas - if there is no EGO that believes anything then there is no reason to fight over it with other EGOs. And if you`re really consequent then the fight for existence would also cease at last. There would be a couple of breaths, decay of the physical body and that`s it: a world of perfect peace and harmony.

I look out the window, see the sun slowly sinking into the hills and feel this tremendous moment of beauty. And this beauty can only be perceived by YOU. It`s a feeling. And without a limited being to feel it - there would be nothing. No sunlight falling into my eyes, no electric impulses running through my brain, no chemical processes creating a certain feeling which I call "beauty". Or simplier: the astonishing realization that you are alive.

There is of course an internal problem of Identity: it makes you feel the limitation of yourself in all the ways.
It is a constant mediator of feelings, caused by immediate needs of survival, perception, memories, projections, a constant sense of tension between what you were and will be. And as the day gets longer and the enthusiasm of the morning fades you wonder whether life itself is a reason good enough to live for.

As I am struggling to finish this post I know the answer for me, my current identity.
I know the answer of the smiling monk.
And I wonder what my future me will think of me writing these last words right now.
I smile.