This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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Adventures ahead

travelbooksAll set for summer adventures!  France, I cannot get enough of you. Bali, I promised you I would be back. With some detours around SE Asia on the way in and out.

Wanderlust. What is it, other than a hyped-up hipster blogger word? Kahlil Gibran said it best: “But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed. For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night.”

(Helsinki, Finland; June 2016)

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Interlude: tolerance

rinpoche“Before, the city center was marked by the cathedral. Now, down-town is identified as the place where the banks are”, said Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche as he sat down, removed his shoes, crossed his legs, and commenced his lecture at a major school of economics in Helsinki. I do not think any leader ever sat on that stage without shoes, cross-legged. Or without a suit.

“If nobody wears shoes in Africa, does it mean there is no business for selling shoes, or that there is a great opportunity to ensure that everybody does wear shoes?” asked Rinpoche. “Is your mind closed, or is it open?” The mind does play funny tricks on us, because it is never a thought or a thing that is right or wrong – only our perception of it is.

He spoke of conflicts, and about how tolerance is actually space inside. “All conflicts, whether they are between people, countries, or religions, are conflicts of identity. We can never be one because we are different people. Any negotiation is about viewpoints, or rather, our differing identities.” And I realized that only if we are better with dealing with our own identities, can we become tolerant. And only if we create space inside for another person’s discomfort, pain, or differing opinion, can we became open enough to be tolerant.

He told us stories. He made us laugh. He made us feel good about ourselves, and foolish. But in the end, he made us aware of the compassion we have for each other, deep inside. And how much easier it is to accept those things that pick on and irritate us when we are open and appreciative of each other.

And I could not help but think that while Rinpoche is Tibetan Bön-buddhist, the Hindus have the most suitable expression for his message of loving-kindness to each other: “namaste”. The divinity in me greets the divinity in you. And how could we not tolerate that which is a part of us?

(Helsinki, Finland; May 2016)

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One night in June

royalparkMuch talk about science and little time to recognize that today was an unusually warm, balmy early June night. As I sat on the hotel terrace sipping a Provence rosé, looking at the Crown Princess’s house across the bay, I could have been fooled to think it was August.

I wonder if the Crown Princess and her baby prince and princess were relaxing outside, thinking the same?

(Stocholm, Sweden; June 2016)


Wine and philosophy above Stockholm

stockholmroofsThought of the day: to be happy with what one has means not looking for more. If one is not looking for more, one is not curious about change and new things (unless purely for speculative or rhetorical purposes). Thus, contentment kills curiosity, and without curiosity there cannot be proactive personal growth. Is it, then, an impossible equation to not chase for more (be content), and simultaneously grow as a person?

Why is contentment spiritually valued, if it makes us too lazy for personal growth? How can one ever attain the selfless contentment spiritually valued, unless one already is enlightened and has nothing more to seek?

Thoughts larger than a glass of wine above the rooftops of Stockholm…

(Stockholm, Sweden; May 2016)

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Why not?

Riviera-2A telltale sign of getting old is to get stuck on one place and return year after year. I confess, I have got stuck on coming to the Riviera. How could I ever wait for a whole year to return again? Impossible. I will not. Since I can work 1-2 days of a week from anywhere, it is not impossible to consider flying down for a long weekend to work on a patio with roses and pool instead of in the office.riviera-4My heart is whispering to me that to not have a place of one’s own down here during this lifetime is unthinkable. I am struggling not to listen, but talk to me again in 10 years from now and we will see who wins: my mind or my heart.

Perhaps it is not too bad to get old, after all. Until next time, Côte d’Azur.riviera-3(Juan-les-Pins and Nice, France; May 2016)

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A place for painters

Vence-2Hello little sleepy St-Paul-de-Vence. Beneath your car-free cobble stone streets, green facades, and chirpy birds I can sense a a vibrant energy bubbling under. I wonder if I drank from that fountain and stayed here, would I morph into an artist?  Vence-1While it must be terribly hot in the summer and dark and windy in the winter, right now it is just right. Ice cream weather and a splendid day for sketching the beginnings of a masterpiece. Many people come to stay for a while, but Chagall never left. I can understand why.Vence-3(St-Paul-de-Vence, France; May 2016)

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Headspace on the Azure Coast

RivieraThere is a reason for why the French Riviera is also called the Côte d’Azur, or the Azure Coast. And there is a reason for why so many late 20th century painters like Renoir, Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Monet, and even Norwegian Munch, all stayed there – or moved there. I wish they would have had the delight of seeing the azure waters from the air.

I am not a painter, simply someone in dire need of a brain break and some girly time with a dear friend. A walk along the Antibes wall will do.

As I walked along the windy coast, I could not help but wonder how easy it is to be petty-minded and swirl down the vortex of “oh no, I missed that deadline” and “oh no, I still have not replied to X or done Y, what will they think of me?”. In the end this is all egoistic thinking: the company does not fall if I miss a deadline or don’t send an email. Nobody probably gets into trouble if I don’t complete a task in time. The company and most of my colleagues don’t really care about me in their daily lives. Sure it is great to have me around, and hopefully my leadership and productivity is beneficial, but should I leave (or die) nobody would miss me longer than for a week. At work, nobody is indispensable and nothing is really about me even if I’d like to think othewise.

Because our lives are usually all about “me, me, me”, we corner ourselves with expectations and are usually our own worst critics. The lunacy is only revealed once we step back (and take a brain break for example on the French Riviera).

With all the headspace and air around me I could not help but think of the Japanese proverb: “nothing in life is as important as gardening – and even that is not important.”
Antibes(Antibes / Juan-les-Pins, France; May 2016)