Saturday, July 12, 2014

Life lessons from a plant

Today one of my plants taught me a (humbling) life lesson. In fact it was not just any of my plants, it was (and is) my favorite plant.

In January I tried planting 3 avocado seeds (with the glass of water + stick method). Months passed and nothing seemed to happen. I got fed up with waiting at some point so I decided "this is the day I give up and throw them away". #1 and #2 disappeared into the trashcan, and just as I was about to throw away #3 I noticed it had hatched! HALLELUJAH!!!!! Ever since it has been growing wonderfully, giving me big, beautiful leaves of a vibrant green color. It is my favorite plant by far.

Yesterday morning I was, once again, observing my avocado plant with a mix of love, admiration and tenderness (who would have ever thought I'd feel all of that for a plant!), feeling grateful and content at the same time. 12 hours later I walk into the kitchen and face my avocado plant with horror! The top part of the plant's trunk, along with it's top 4 leaves (it only has like 7 or 8 leaves....) were hanging down all droopy! I was shocked. Soon after I noticed the reason for this disaster: there was absolutely no water left in the glass!!!

This is a plant I love, it is my favorite plant and yet I managed to make such a stupid and basic mistake!!! (ever heard of the need to water a plant? hello!) That is when I learned life lesson #1: No matter how much you love someone, no matter how good your intentions are, this does not protect you against making a serious mistake and hurting him/her...
Quiet humbling....

So I put fresh water in the glass and thankfully this morning my plant was back to normal. Phew! I was really scared there...!

And that made life lesson #2: though some mistakes are irreversible, the majority thankfully aren't and with love and care, a lot can be healed. :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

What if time was money ?

"Time is money" they say. But what if it really was ? Imagine that instead of Euros we earned the Hours we worked. What would happen ? Let's explore this idea.

Well, first of all most inequalities would be gone. One hour of work would simply be worth one Hour of money. No matter what work you do, it all has the same value, which is the amount of time that you into put in. Interestingly there are only 24 hours in a day, so noone could possibily earn more than 24 Hours per day (there you go, a natural limit for the maximum income).

Now, let's see what else could happen. Today, most of the money circulating is created by banks through debts (with all the negative consequences that has, if you are interested in knowing more, check out this documentary). Imagine that there is no organism that can issue Hours, but that Hours can solely be created through work. So you work 3 Hours and « puff », 3 Hours are introduced into the system and they belong to you. It's not government or banks who have the power : it's just us and our ability to work.

This means that the whole power structure of employer and employee crumbles at once. Let me explain. What happens today is that you look for a job so you can earn money. However, for someone to hire you, that person (or company) needs to own a lot of money, or to have borrowed it from a bank. So you are dependend of those who 1) have accumulated wealth, or 2) have borrowed tons of money (and thus are in fact paying you with debt). In this new Hour system however, your employer does not give you Hours in exchange for your work. You create the Hours through your work (i.e. as you work, new Hours are introduced into the system and they belong to you).

What does this mean ? That anyone can hire anyone for any kind of task ! (without the need to have accumulated wealth first) Which means : an abundance of work (there are so many things that can be done today, but are not being done for the lack of money). Which means : gone is unemployment (and probably also gone are the majority of crimes). Which means : gone is also slavery. Cause, if there are so many tasks that you can choose from in order to earn some Hours, you will think twice before doing a job that is degrading, that exploits you, or harms others and society. All those things we accept to do today in fear of loosing our precious income are gone : cause income we can generate by doing any work we choose! And work is in abundance !

It sounds crazy doesn't it? But I like it !:)

PS : I am very curious about your reactions. I feel like I have stepped into some kind of  "mind-trap" and thus can't see a "very obvious problem" with this Hour system. Sure, it's not a thought through system. It's just a crazy idea which I hope points towards new possibilities. It's an idea for discussion. :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

A crisis of willingness

Serving the economy
When money was first invented it probably was a great invention. It facilitated transactions and perhaps it even enabled wealth distribution. In other words: money served us. Today our monetary system has grown into a capricious monster with a life own called the economy. The economy needs to be well-fed and taken care of, otherwise beware of divine wrath!... When upset, the economy first growls to spread fear and make everyone serve it even harder. When that is not enough it just launches an attack and swallows people...
Today money doesn't serve us, we serve it. We are enslaved to economy.

A crisis made out of thin air
Today the economy is growling again and has started swallowing people as well. It's crisis. If we take distance from the economy for a moment however we will see that the most essential things that build our world have not changed.
  • Did food production suddenly drop drastically so that many need to die from hunger? NO. In fact there is enough food being produced today on the planet to provide everyone with a 2700 kcal diet per day [1]. Hunger and malnutrition are unnecessary.
  • Did the world population suddenly drop so that there are now not enough people to work and create the food and comforts that we all so cherish? NO. On the contrary many are unemployed.
  • Did the physical and digital infrastructures that we have suddenly collapse? NO. The world has never been as connected as it is today! Never has it been as easy to share information, ideas and resources.

What does this mean? It means that in principle we have all the infrastructure, natural resources and manpower necessary to keep everyone happy on this planet.

So what is this crisis really about? The only crisis I see is a crisis of willingness. The willingness to open our eyes and see that today we can abandon the old paradigm and build a better world. The willingness to put our differences aside, unite as humanity and create those conditions that will allow the maximum amount of people to live healthy, comfortable and happy lives.

Open your eyes: We can abandon slavery and build a better world.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The voices in my head

I sat down to meditate a few days ago, trying to silence my mind. However, thought kept arising and I took a moment to observe them.

I realized that there are several types of thoughts or voices. Each voice has its own character. There is:

The (micro-)manager: Constantly telling me about the things that I should do. "You still have to do this.", "Oh, do not forget to do that too.". "When you open your computer, don't forget to send an email to X, and don't forget to mention that ....." etc, etc, etc. Making a to-do-list shuts her up usually. But sometimes she just goes on, and on, and on....

The DJ: This one loves playing music! This usually is fun, unless of course she is playing an annoying song. Or unless I want to meditate! ;)

The VJ: This one loves playing back scenes and conversations from my life. Unfortunately she quiet often shows me those parts that make me feel insecure and/or ashamed. When I am lucky, she shows me fleeting images of beautiful moment. Then other times she also plays back neutral scenes for no apparent reason.

The blogger: Whenever I have an insight or follow a trail of thought, this voice translates everything into words. She loves describing my thoughts and experiences in a way that will allow me to share them. She is also quiet obsessed with finding the right words and often rephrases... Persistently she keeps on repeating her "wonderful" phrases until I write them down (which I am doing now). PS: I think she is rather vain and has some issues with her mortality.

The simpleton: This voice makes me laugh! When all the other voices have been silenced this one pops-up and says something like: "I am sitting!", "I am here!" or "I am!". She loves stating the obvious! I guess she likes to affirm her existence.

The lunatic (or: the politician): I sometimes hear her talking right before I fall asleep. She always seems to be talking about something mightily interesting and oh, so intellectual! She talks of things that are beyond me and her beautiful, impressive words flow like a waterfall. However, whenever I try to zoom-in and understand what she is saying she stops! As a result I never know what she is talking about, but I suspect that her speech has no true substance.

The observer: Of course there must be someone experiencing all of this, listening to all these thoughts. I call her the observer. Usually she is the one acknowledging feelings and listening to the voices.

After having experienced this I get the feeling that I most definitely am not my thoughts. Thought just happen in me, that is all...Who am I then? I don't know, but it makes me very curious about what others think or have experienced along these lines.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nationalistic 'idiology'

Lately people have started to exhibit the very tiring habit of wanting to (in the best case) talk to me about the Greek crisis and get some insider's information, or (in the worst case) pass some condescending comment on the Greek population through me... I happen to be born half-Greek and this apparently justifies for people directing their fear and frustration towards me.

When people do this I always wonder: “what do you really want from me?”
I am just a simple human being like you.
Just like you I don't know how this crisis came to be.
Just like you I don't know what the best solution is.
Just like you I feel powerless.
Just like you I think it sucks.
Just like you I wish things were different.

But no, apparently I am not just like you.... Cause you want me to listen to your indignation. You want me to listen to how you good, hardworking and generous Dutch are going to loose money and how you might need to compromise some of your luxuries.
Apparently I am not just another human being anymore.

I am the lazy and corrupt Greek and you of course are the good, Dutch Samaritan who is being exploited.
I am, at that moment, just a representative of the Greek nation, to be interrogated and to be punished, while you don't even know that I in fact hate the concept of nations.

What tune would you be singing if you were born Greek? Would you still talk with the same air of indignation and would you not be the hardworking and honest person that you are today?

Beside the fact that you are passing simplistic judgments upon a whole population (didn't World War 2 teach us the dangers of doing this?) you are also forgetting that all what you claim to be rightfully yours (your country's wealth and prosperity) has nothing to do with you. You talk as if it were created by your own sweat and tears but all you ever did was to be born in a country called the Netherlands. I am sure it must have been excruciatingly difficult for you to crawl out of your mother's belly in a country with such bad weather (;p) but seriously do you think that you therefore, more than others, deserve a lifelong of comfort and prosperity?
“Yes, but my parents/ancestors worked hard!” Well, whose parents didn't!? Would you rather trade places with a family living off the e-waste in Ghana? And then again, did you choose your parents?
All you ever did was to effortlessly receive the result of centuries of human history and bloodshed. And now here you are, shamelessly taking it and making it your own; protecting it with all your strength so that others may famine while you flourish...

When will we stop thinking about nations and start putting humans first?

PS: Feel free to substitute Dutch and Greek with any nations you like.... This happens everywhere...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Goodbye philosophy (Philo arrĂȘte sa philo...)

“What is matter made of?” , “How did our universe came to be?”, “Is this reality or a dream?”, “Do we have a soul?”, “Do we even exist?”

I've spent the 25 first years of my life trying to understand the nature of our reality. I was mightily intrigued by these kind of questions and passionatelly tried to educate myself on all sorts of matters. I read and read and read, and thought and thought and thought, all the time having the illusion that I am on a quest towards understanding.

What naive an idea... These questions have been the same since Aristotle and although their form might have changed, and some possible answers are excluded (you probably do not believe that rain is poured from the clouds by people with buckets ) we will never have the ultimate question to these answers.

But let's assume it is possible to fin answers and let's even assume that we know the answers today..

Imagine that you are convinced that we are living in a dream and what is more, you have in fact proved it. Ok, great. A true breakthrough! Now, if I were to slap you hard on your face, would your conviction about reality make the pain go away? See what I am heading at? The answers to these “grand questions” about life and reality do not matter much. We are here today, there is no escaping that. All you have to do is try to survive.

I have hit a wall, I just realised that my “quest” is not really leading me anywhere. When I think about how I used to judge people who did not share my passion about these “grand questions” I feel deeply ashamed. I used to think: “How can you just live on like that without asking yourself these questions?”. Well today my answer is: “Very well, thank you. In fact I started to enjoy life more since I gave up trying to do the impossible and focused my energy on more tangible things”.

But the old self still has a reproach: “If everyone thought like you there would be no philosophy and no science and none of all progress we made! If no one were curious about understanding reality we would not have gotten anywhere...!”

New self:
“First: You are exaggerating, that is not the only motivation for technological and medical progress. Second: Even if it were so, what has this “progress” really achieved? Sure it's great that today we have all this technology and medical care. Yes, we do live longer and don't have to shiver in the cold, but are we happier? The things that make people happy or miserable have not changed since the first humans walked the earth. Happiness is more than physical well-being. The way our loved ones treat us, the way we treat them, how we feel and think about ourselves and others, that is what makes or breaks a life. Sure, death does too, but that is an inevitable part of life. Third: this is my life and if I do not want to contribute to science or participate in this intellectual sport called philosophy then this is my choice.”

So philosophy, here we are. It's time to say goodbye. After so many years it hurts to let go, but I have truly had it with you. I have better things to do than waste my time and energy on questions that have no answers. At 25 I am finally free, I can go ahead and just live.

Goodbye philosophy.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why search for God?

There are many guides on "how to seek union with the Divine". Anything from prayer, to meditation, to trance, to DMT is suggested. Each religion has their own method of course but suprisingly all seem to agree that this "search for God" is a good thing, something to be encouraged...

What I never understood is why...? Why is it such a good thing to search for God?

Let's assume that we do have an eternal soul and that we can attain union with the Divine....
If our purpose were to be "one with the Divine" then we would not have been put on earth in a material body in the first place, right?

Ok, so if being one with God is not the purpose of our earthly life then what is? The experience of desperately trying to attain the immaterial with our physical bodies? Why even try when we will be immaterial once we die anyway?

So, what is our purpose then? Perhaps to focus on the material...? That would make "seeking the Divine" obsolete and in fact counterproductive...

And still, where you or I ever to find the 'divine', what would really change? (instead of having a mental assurance that our life is probably purposeful although no one can really tell us why exactly). I would still need to feed my stomach and drag my sad, fat ass over to the toilet afterwards...

I guess then that it is has no "higher purpose"... It is just good if you like it, that's all.