I just went cycling and spring punched me in the face with all its mighty force. I was reminded that winter, not without appeal of its own is – considering it all and compared to this – a real piece-of-shit season. The sunlight burning my white skin reminded me of why suddenly all the leaves and buds dare to peak out from their lifeless hiding spots. The burning sensation in my eyes reminded me of the pollen flying and the insects smashing into my face that it’s their time to get a meal and spread the love. And the smell of garlic, reaching up from all the patches of Bärlauch on the side of the road, reminded me that there is food growing for us too – everywhere. Even the birds chirping seem to say: “Hey, we’ve been through this shit together but this is so much better, right?”
And most of all I was reminded of why I was so attracted by nature and why I made all these resolutions last year, to make it the center part of my life. Seriously, winter is not for me anymore.
The other day, Andy asked me about my blog and why there have been no updates. I said, there is no progress. And he responded: “Why don’t you write about that?” So let’s try.
My post in October was a fresher assessment, comparing my current lifestyle to what happened before. Right now I feel like light years away from that place, where I started this blog. So I need to be careful not to start rambling about imperfections and list the complaints I have about myself and life in general. Instead I want to take an optimistic – or at least objective – look at my current state.
Towards the end of last year, 5 months back in Switzerland, I felt like I had pretty much fallen back into old patterns. I was spending all my idle time on my phone, occupying my mind with crypto currencies, dating sites and god-knows-what. Little focus was put on my inner well-being and I had no patience to sit down and be with myself. Instead I went out partying and jumped on any distraction I could get. A long vacation was due (yes, already again).
Starting New Year’s Eve, I spent close to 3 weeks in Thailand. It took me at least a week to not only overcome my jet lag but also to fully arrive. When I finally started to calm down, I occasionally managed to leave my phone in my room, to just sit and enjoy nature, to try and live in the moment, to absorb. I spent some of the time with my good friend Lars, some of it by myself. I found a wonderful spa resort in Koh Chang, where I passed a week doing yoga and meditation. And I found myself to be happiest, while cruising around the island on a rented scooter.
Leaving all that behind was hard, but I brought a lot of good energy and focus with me. Finally I have managed to build up some routine around morning yoga and meditation. I’m not doing it every day and not every day the same routine. But just recently I reached 5 consecutive days of meditation for the first time. The effect has been impressive. Though I’m still struggling to completely be in the moment and give it the attention it needs to develop its full potential, I’m feeling a positive change in my days: I found that I’m more focused at work and able to take on a lot more, all while staying relaxed. Even at my ice hockey routine, there were some positive performances, which I attribute in part to my mental state and morning exercise.
To stay on a positive note, I’ve signed up to two permaculture courses for the running year. With that I’m hoping to progress on the garden-journey. I’ve also started planting a bed in my brother’s city garden plot. I found out just how inexperienced and helpless I am still in this field, without the instructions of a competent supervisor. But it’s really exciting and I’m reassured that I’m on the right path there.
On the housing side, I went back to bourgeois living, I had given up tent-life at last, when snow started to bend the tent poles end of November. I’ve moved back into the city for 2 months, renting a room in a large shared apartment. A couple of weeks ago I’ve moved into a pretty 3 room flat in the next town over from Zurich. So my idea of countryside living is far from being fulfilled. But at least I’ve made one step towards it – while still being solidly integrated into the comforts of city life.
The combination of having a newfound passion for gardening and the few weeks of warm sunshine in Thailand made me as conscious of winter as never before. I found it to be long, dire and pointless and couldn’t wait for it to end. As a result of short, cold, gloomy days, I was left with a lot of free time at my hand – which I didn’t succeed at using beneficially.
Writing these words, I am aware that I am suffering from a series of first-world or luxury problems. I am very privileged to be in a position to have all these choices. Looking at the real problems in this world and realizing my inability to take real action – despite my awareness, leaves me feeling guilty and selfish. Reminding myself that I know what my contribution could be and that it’s a journey towards it, which includes ups as well as downs, has to be motivation enough to stay happy, positive and focused.
As I said before, I’ve come to realize that my outer journey can’t be successful without an inner one in parallel. Learning to cope with fear and stress, weakness and uncertainties will be a prerequisite to finding calm and focus, dedication and satisfaction in a lifestyle – whatever it might be.
Taking a step back I realize that I am making progress, if only slow. Looking back at my goals formulated in this blog post, I’ve identified a few mismatches:
- Community: I’m not gonna live in a lonely cottage in the mountains by myself. I am a social being after all. I will first need to find or develop the right setting and figure out with whom a project would feel more achievable. The kind of project and kind of community will be mutual influencers and define where I will end up.
- Knowhow: I’m very ignorant of pretty much any aspect needed to make a garden or permaculture project reality. So I’m seeing the current year as a transition year where I’m trying to tap into all available sources (friends, courses, first hand experience, literature, etc.) to build a foundation.
- Motivation/Spirit: Looking at what it takes to make a project function, be it a beautiful, small, but vibrant backyard garden or a full scale permaculture project – with or without livestock – and observing the passion and focus the people behind it have (I’m thinking about Doris or Ramon), is quite scary, when I really picture it. So also here, my initial enthusiasm was hampered a bit and I’m hoping for it to be rekindled, if only I can identify the right place and/or community to get involved with.
- Dedication/Focus: I’ve never been the driven kind of person who really sinks his teeth into a topic and doesn’t let go until it’s done. The same way, I feel myself being pulled in various directions, following various activities, being lazy and distracted. I don’t seem to be willing or able (yet?) to let go of many other topics in order to allow the necessary time and focus to allow a different kind of life style.
- Feasibility/Money: Life is expensive, especially in Switzerland. My reduction of work hours allowed me to have the freedom and headspace to focus on different topics. On the other hand it made my financial situation tighter and resulted in my savings rather decreasing than increasing. So any kind of investment or full-time activity without regular income will be a real challenge.
So I’m hoping, that with the fuel of spring energy and the upcoming permaculture design course I will gain new momentum.