Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The answer

So many theories and opinions. So much confusion, conflict and doubt. Who's right, who's wrong? Who can we trust? Where can we find relief and help and perhaps even a little bit of truth?

The answer is simple. It's the most obvious and most logical advice for any type of crisis, be it a relationship crisis or a work crisis, the climate crisis or, in this case, the corona crisis. The words were sent to me by a friend and they're by far the best thing I've read during the last months:

written by Katie LaMonte

If you believe this virus is spread human to human, the antidote is building the immune system with eating plants & natural medicines and sitting in nature alone or with your immediate family, soaking up vitamin D & sunshine.

If you believe that this virus is symptoms of 5G exposure, then the antidote is sitting in nature, connecting to Mother Earth, building your immunity with eating plants and natural medicines - submerge yourself in water & dirt.

If you believe that this is all a hoax and you just need to sit back while Q saves us all, then the answer is sitting in nature, build a garden for the new earth, commune with God, eat plants & natural medicines that strengthen your connection and open your channel to the new earth frequency ~ ascend with her.

If you believe the economy is collapsing, and authoritarian dictatorship is imminent, the most radical thing you can do in protest is build a garden, releasing dependency on the system.

If you believe that Mother Earth is mad at us and purging the human race, the answer is go outside and listen, build a garden, align with her.

The answer is always nature. Always.

We do not have to argue about the why. The antidote is obvious. Alignment with the mother, with our source of nurturance. Remembering everything we use and need comes from her. Give thanks. Humble. Slow down. Observe. Listen.

The answer is always nature.
Nothing more to add.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The story of Miss God

Many people around the globe are struggling with the current lockdown situation. For a writer, however, lots of time spent in quarantine is part of normal life. I hardly go to bars and restaurants anyway; I'm used to being at home for days on end, it kind of comes with the job. But this doesn't mean I can or want to live without having contact to others. Quite contrary, even though it's usually one person who writes a book, most books depend on the input of many others.

Four years ago I stumbled across the ten commandments and wondered why they've never been updated. At the core, they are actually quite useful, but they're hopelessly trapped under a thick layer of dust. 'Thou shalt not...', who speaks in such a weird way today? And besides, why so negative? A bunch of well-meant guidelines that have become rotten rules, totally inappropriate for the modern world. So I thought of a story where God and a young girl meet on a beach and rewrite those old wisdoms.

Three years ago I told my girlfriend Rocío about this idea. She loved it, we talked about it for a while and then life went on and the idea disappeared in my folder of buried possibilities.

Two years ago I contemplated options for a new writing project when my girlfriend brought up the new ten commandments again. 'Why don't you do something with that? I really think it has potential.' I gave it some thought and agreed with her. Yes, it was an idea worth digging out and working on. And so that's what I did.
Back then I was living in a shared house with one of my best friends, Charlotte. One day I was sitting at my desk, pondering on God and Moses, when she came in for a cup of tea. I told her about the basic idea of the book: God is tired of seeing humans screwing up the planet and each other, and so he asks 11-year old Olivia to help him rewrite the ten commandments. 'Why he?' Charlotte asked. 'Why can't God be a woman?'

One year ago I was disillusioned because I couldn't find a publisher for MISS GOD. In Germany, where most of my works are published, I only got rejections. Many publishers liked it, but either it was too religious for them, or too critical of the church. I've never fully understood these reasons, because MISS GOD is neither about religion nor about blame. It's an invitation to believe. In something.

One day ago MISS GOD was released by my English publisher, Ammonite Press. Like me, they felt it's a perfect story for our times. A story about changing old habits and exploring new perceptions. And like me, they just loved the title. Who on Earth wouldn't publish a book called MISS GOD? I'd buy it at first sight!

On page seven, the book is dedicated to Charlotte and Rocío. Without them, MISS GOD wouldn't exist. But there are many others who helped as well: My daughter Paloma, who played the role of real-life Olivia; Roxanne, who did a brilliant job at proofreading my English translation; Jason, who convinced his boss at the publishing house that this could be something special; Kate, whose illustrations have transformed the book beyond special. Plus all the team at Ammonite Press and of course Jane, who, some years ago, had met the owner of the UK publishing house on a plane trip, chatting away and mentioning casually, 'hey, I know a writer...'

I wrote MISS GOD in a self-imposed, solitary lockdown. But underneath the lockdown, invisible to most people's eyes, there was a tight web of meaningful connections. It happens with each writing experience: From the outside, I might seem like an antisocial nerd at times, but on the inside, vital exchanges are happening all the time.

Now you're in lockdown too. A challenging situation, no doubt about it, but also a chance to reflect. A chance to pause, listen and wonder. Why do we fight and destroy so much? Why do we suffer? And why are we here in the first place?

Maybe it's the perfect moment to question your beliefs, while at the same time finding a way to connect to the divine. Maybe it's the perfect moment for an inspiring story. Maybe it's the perfect moment to meet MISS GOD...

Out now as a beautiful hardback and Corona-proof ebook.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Love explosion

My grandmother once told me that she saw Adolf Hitler giving a speech in a big stadium. Sometime in the 1930's, a few years before the war. She had been totally fascinated by him, how he had managed to unite the huge crowd and made everyone cheer. She said she just couldn't have imagined that it all might go horribly wrong. And then it did.

My mother has always lived in a healthy way. Good food, exercise, very few drugs and lots of compassion. Life hasn't always been easy and she hasn't done everything perfectly right, but things seemed to be going well. She never imagined that something could go seriously wrong. And then, two months ago, she was diagnosed with a severe cancer.

In January of this year, around the time my mother heard the bad diagnosis, I read about a virus spreading in China. It seemed far away and I felt it had nothing to do with me. In February I went with my girlfriend to Madrid when the first case of the new coronavirus was detected in the Spanish capital. Still, it seemed pretty irrelevant to my life. I didn't think that it could affect me. A few weeks later, Madrid and the rest of Europe are in lockdown, my Mom is in the high risk group and the world has turned upside down.

Can it get any worse? Oh yes! Just like with the Covid19 situation, the climate crisis is seen by many as unnecessary panic-making too. It's far away, climate activists are called hysterical alarmists and many think it won't really cause them any problems. But just as the virus is growing exponentially right now, the climate problems are growing exponentially as well. And their possible consequences are far worse than what we are experiencing at present with Covid19. That's right, far worse!

I think the real crisis we are facing is a crisis of imagination. It's really difficult to understand exponential growth, what it means when suddenly everything accelerates and spins out of control. Perhaps this current virus crisis can provide some learning. If not, here's a great video by Chris Martenson explaining it: Compounding is the problem 

But the crisis of imagination isn't only about our failure of reading early alarm signs and acting accordingly in order to prevent an apocalypse. There's also a lack of being able to imagine something better. How can we create a healthier world if we don't have any vision of a bright future?

Watching TV and Netflix, warming up precooked food and consuming the art of others are all pleasant pastimes, but none of them really help to develop our imagination. They make us ever more passive and don't lead to creative action. So how can we train our imagination? The answer is simple: by using it.

Read a book. Cook a meal. Paint a picture. Play a song. Invent a game. Write a story. Sit in silence.

All of these things allow your mind to expand, instead of keeping it imprisoned. Opening up to new possibilities, instead of holding on to something that is old and broken and won't last anyway. You don't even need to leave the house to do all this, so maybe right now is a good time to start.

And yes, it's a difficult situation. When you're locked up at home, unable to hug or even see your loved ones, watching the collapse of the economy and feeling the threat of uncertainty, what hope is there? Even worse, you see that we continue talking about money the whole time, and as we're sitting in safe houses with enough food and good internet, we let 20,000 refugees rot on a Greek island. No, not because of Covid19 – we've been already doing this all those years when everything seemed fine. We deserve this crisis. We actually deserve much worse.

In the end, the only hope that is left is the very thing that got us into this mess: exponential growth. Racism, cancer, the virus; greed, selfishness and stupidity – they all exploded. But perhaps love can explode too. Perhaps wisdom and solidarity can also grow exponentially. A utopian dream, but a dream nevertheless.

If not now, when?
If not us, who?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The relationship between frog eggs and happiness

My 17 year-old daughter showed me her maths homework the other day. It was an A4 sheet with lots of derivations. When I was her age, I did my A-levels in maths and understood all this quite well. Now I look at it and I might as well try and read a Chinese shopping list.

My daughter spends vast amounts of time learning these strange calculations, just as I have done many years ago. Here's the sad thing about it: Seeing her efforts on paper, I told her that I have never ever used any of it since I left school. Not once in 25 years! If I had become an engineer or astrophysicist, it would have been different of course, but how many end up becoming engineers and astrophysicists? In other words: A class of 20 students has to suffer, only because one or two of them might need that stuff for their future careers. Maybe we'd be better off learning things that are actually useful to us, because isn't school supposed to prepare us for life?

Over Christmas I went with my girlfriend to the mountains. When we checked in to our little apartment, the woman of the local holiday flat agency showed us around before asking us to pay. 180 Euros. They had kindly organized some firewood for the chimney, so that was another 7 Euros. She took her phone, opened the calculator app and typed in 180+7. I glanced at my girlfriend, wondering whether it was a joke. “187 please”, the woman said. As we had forgotten the money in the car, the three of us went back to the place where we had left it. We got the money out and were about to pay, when she said that they could also rent us a parking place in a garage. Another 15 Euros. “Fine”, we said and gave her 202 Euros. She started to panic and searched for her phone. Only after checking with her calculator, we were free to go.

Maybe it would be an idea that all students learn to properly calculate 180+7 before they fill their brains with derivations. You know, stuff that everyone needs in life.

Maybe another idea would be to reduce the time spent studying the anatomy of tiny frog eggs and instead start teaching young people about happiness. Because I don't know about you, but to me it seems that the one thing every single person tries to find in life is happiness. Interestingly, at school nobody learns how to do that. Is it surprising then that only few people lead truly happy lives?

Kids study derivations = adults can't count.
Kids study frog eggs = adults are depressed.

In summary: Life is pretty simple. We are the ones who make it complicated.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Learning to dance again

Earlier this month we hosted a 20's Swing party to welcome and celebrate the new decade. Everyone came dressed up in suits and feathers, there were old newspaper articles on the wall and uplifting swing tunes made everybody move. Fun times!

In preparation of the party I had watched some videos of people dancing the Lindy Hop and the Charleston. People from 100 years ago and the people of today. And what struck me most was that they all looked so incredibly happy!

Change of subject (but don't worry, we'll get back to the dancing). One year ago, I wrote a blog post about how evil Amazon is and how I wanted to change my shopping habits. Back then, I promised to reflect on this process one year later, so...

I failed. Not completely and utterly, but there's no point in denying that I bought far too much stuff on Amazon in 2019. Some purchases I can kind of justify (music – so far, I haven't found a good alternative for buying MP3s), others are simply wrong (books!). I used Amazon less often than in 2018, but I haven't reduced it anywhere near as much as I would have liked to. Hence, I still contributed far too much money to a world I don't agree with. My actions have helped to close more independent shops and give more power to an already scary giant. Why didn't I do more?

The main reason is comfort. Yes, it's ridiculously comfortable to shop on Amazon. The same is true for other things – flying is less of a hassle than organizing a long train ride; ready-made-meals are less time-consuming than a home-cooked diet that is healthy for us and our planet. Maybe comfort is what's going to kill us in the end?

I could easily get depressed over my lacking action. I could give up and surrender to the darkness unfolding in front of us – a world with chaotic weather, no fish and artificial trees, and no shops except Amazon. Depressing indeed! What can I do to stop myself from entering this futuristic void?

The answer is 'something'. Ideally, we'd change all of our bad habits right now, but for some strange reason, that's not happening. However, there is a lot of space between 'perfect change' and 'no change'. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

There's this phrase I've heard my Dad say many times, almost like a mantra: “You will never fail as long as you keep trying.” Falling and getting up again. That goes for learning to walk as much as for learning to change bad habits. One step at a time, on and on.

So, I guess my Amazon lesson continues. And in case you’re facing a similar challenge, here's some more inspiration from Kurt Vonnegut:

I tell my wife I'm going out to buy an envelope. “Oh,” she says, “you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet?” And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And see some great looking babes. And a fire-engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And I'll ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is: We're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, computers will do us out of that. And what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And it's like we're not supposed to dance at all anymore.
(Kurt Vonnegut – 'A Man Without a Country')

Monday, December 16, 2019

See the beauty

Have you noticed that most climate change deniers are from the right political spectrum? And how is it that musicians, writers and filmmakers, are usually from the left? I have no idea about the artist’s conundrum, but I've found a good explanation for the first observation.

It isn't a coincidence that scepticism about climate change tends to be the preserve of the nationalist right. You rarely see left-wing socialists tweet that climate change is a Chinese hoax. When there is no national answer, but only a global answer to the problem of global warming, some nationalist politicians prefer to believe the problem doesn't exist. (Yuval Noah Harari)

I'm not really a patriotic person myself, never have been, don't know why. I don't mind if others are – as long as a little bit of patriotism doesn't turn into full blown nationalism, with made-up countries becoming more important than everybody's planet.

I also find it quite annoying and sad when people become so obsessed with their national identity they end up insulting everyone who threatens their view of the world. Everything should stay as it is: borders, religion, language, food and cheap flights. Ironically, those who stand behind conservative values are the ones who keep attacking a sixteen-year old girl from Sweden because she's fighting for the conservation of the Earth.

Greta Thunberg is one day younger than my own daughter. When I read some of the comments about her, the jokes about her illness, the mockery about her angry face, the hateful rants – honestly, I'm lost for words. A teenager who cares for the world and all living beings, who understands that we're destroying our home – I mean, how fucked-up must you be to ridicule her? Manipulated by the Elite? We are all manipulated by the Elite, every day! What matters is that there's someone who loves life enough to defend it.

I was recently at the COP25, the climate summit in Madrid. There were over 500,000 people marching during the main demonstration – many of them were there because, only one year ago, Greta decided to do something about the climate emergency. One fifteen-year-old girl with a sign. If you can't see the beauty and the power in this story, and the hope within, then try harder. Because it's all there.

I walked amongst friends and those 500,000 people, and one day later we joined Extinction Rebellion who had blocked the Gran Vía, one of the main shopping streets in Madrid, in an act of disco disobedience. Combining climate action with a celebration of life.

I always promote and work on personal change – keeping money in an ethical bank, buying more local and organic products, less meat, less flights, etc. And while this is super important, political activism is needed too. If we don't demand change, hardly anything will happen. Hence, it's vital that more and more people join the different movements campaigning for climate justice. If not now – when? If not you – who?

The recent experience in Madrid has also shown me how much fun activism can be, how it connects you to others, making you feel less alone in all this mess we've created. Being surrounded by people who believe in solutions, who complain less and act more, has a deeply healing effect. To me, it felt like a big injection of hope!

Here's a video of our trip, including the demonstration and disco disobedience:

Monday, November 11, 2019

Blessed be the climate crisis

Do you ever get tired of the human drama? I do. All the conflicts over resources, over money, borders and power. A never-ending soap opera, sadistic and silly, loud and utterly unnecessary. It can be frustrating and depressing to watch, sometimes it makes me angry, other times sad and only very rarely it makes me laugh. Probably the only thing I should do more of. Laughing. A comedy, disguised as tragedy.

Here we are, floating in space on a beautiful planet. We have enough land to feed everyone, enough shelter to protect everyone, and enough talent to entertain everyone. But do we have enough love to care for everyone?

According to historians, we live in the most peaceful times ever. While this may be true, it's kind of irrelevant. Just because we went from 'extremely violent' to 'very violent', does that justify the status quo? No. it doesn't. The global ecosystem is sick. People, plants and the planet are suffering, from illness and madness. And it seems to be getting worse.

Wherever you look, people are divided. It's left against right, rich against poor, white against black. Like in sports, an endless competition. Barcelona vs Madrid, Tories vs Labour, Christianity vs Islam, Europe vs Africa. We're all different, yes, and some want to compete, fine. That's why there's football. Watch a game, raise your flag and enjoy the fight, great! But if children are starving, it's not a game anymore. If people don't feel safe because of their skin colour, their god or their passport, it's not a competition anymore. It's an attack on humanity!

So let's play God for a moment. You look down on your creation and see the messy state of the world, bursting with selfishness, ignorance and destruction. What would you do? Perhaps something which forces all humans to come together. They won't do it voluntarily, so there needs to be certain pressure to get them into action. A threat. An emergency. Something to shake them up.

Something like crazy weather for example. Caused by their own reckless consumption. The whole climate out of control, with floods and droughts, hurricanes and heat waves, rising sea levels and hundreds of millions of migrants. It will be all or nothing – genocide and extinction, or peace and love.

Maybe it's our only chance to become truly human. One species, friendly, kind and generous, celebrating the gift we were given. Cooperation instead of competition, helping hands and no division, a utopian paradise.

I'm tired of dreaming. If it's really our only chance, then blessed be the climate crisis.