This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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The daily struggle

Baliofferings-4According to the Balinese, two silent powers constantly struggle for control in the universe: good and evil. Equilibrium requires work, otherwise chaos gains foothold. But equilibrium also means the one cannot exist without the other. As soon as there is light there will be shadows. Good cannot exist without evil. And evil can only be kept away from human living by daily offerings to the spirits and gods.

Every morning right after dawn, the scent of flowers and incense floats around every Balinese house. Little banana leaf boxes are filled with flowers, rice, scatters of coconut shavings, and perhaps a sweetener, a cookie, or a candy. Incense sticks are lit. Each building requires offerings outside every gate, every main door, by the house shrine, and other places where protection is needed.

Baliofferings-1Sometimes bad things happen. Demons must be appeased. Unlike protective spirits who are given beautifully decorated and scented gifts, a demon offering may be rotten fruit rudely thrown to the ground. Sometimes this is enough for the demon to let go of the hold on the family.

As the incense smoke weaves through the village streets, equilibrium is restored and another good day can begin. And the pigeons and the ants get their well-blessed and tasty breakfast.

Baliofferings-2(Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; August 2015)


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On Bali every flower has a purpose

Baliflowers-2One lonely frangipani flower lies at the toes of a griffin carved in stone. A monkey statue has two red hibiscus flowers sticking out behind its ears. A buddha blesses a fresh, sun-orange marigold in his hand. On Bali, no flower lies anywhere by chance.

Baliflowers-3Every flower has a purpose. Godly forces and beings are everywhere, and everything man-made has a religious purpose or has been blessed for its proper use. And the lotus flower is the most sacred of all. It grows in every little pond and pot by the door, with its feet in the mud and its flower held high.

There is much muddy water in this world. Most of us wade or swim through it without ever knowing better. We forget what it was like to be a child and to skip on the surface, feet barely touching the dirt below. The lotus has realized that barely floating is not the best salvation: only by rooting into the mud it is possible to stretch and reach above it, and to enjoy the pure air and sunlight.

Standing by a lotus pond in Ubud I was wishing that I could grow lotuses home in Helsinki, too, as a reminder of what is within my reach, if I only remember how to reach for it.

Baliflowers-1(Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; August 2015)


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Interlude

halosenniemi-1It was sunlight of a tired day, still pushing through the old windows. It was words, and a cello. It was a bird on the roof, suddenly emerging through spoken letters and taking flight in the room. It was poetry and incredible voice artistry, the most unusual sounds from a cello, and a quirky violin.

Live today. Tomorrow you can’t anymore.halosenniemi-2(Halosenniemi, Tuusula, Finland; July 2015)


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Stillness, Ilam tea, and the story of a businessman who’d rather be surfing

timetogosurfingHe surfed in California and climbed in Yosemite, making the pitons and other metal tools as he went. He even confesses to having eaten cat food for a while, just to survive. His blacksmith work expanded into functional wear and finally became the Patagonia outerwear brand. He never loved the thought of becoming a businessman, but he found a way to combine his love for the outdoors and climbing with his core values and making a living.

He lets his people surf in office hours, uses company profit to buy land that is turned into national parks, and believes in environmental activism. And he still surfs, hikes, and climbs, when he is not busy challenging people to save the world or pay up to let others do the job. His business has been his greatest adventure.

“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts” says Yvon Chouinard in the documentary 180 South (another inspiring piece).

(Helsinki, Finland; July 2015)