Create

In every second

With every breath

Universes expand and collapse

Endless opportunities open up

And disappear

 

The countless choices we have

But don’t see

Vanish with the blink of our eye

Due to the trodden paths of our own perception

 

Our soul

Suffocated

In seas of limiting beliefs

 

Fears

Of the judgement of others

And Expectations that burden us

 

Our own creative force

Drained

 

But it’s a choice

That everyone faces

Every single moment

 

Choose to be the creator

Or be a victim

It is up to you

 

It’s a jump

Trust is the safety net

And bliss the prize

 

Painting: Rene Magritte

Presence

The present moment is eternity

Our breath the anchor

Between presence in this world

And a sphere where time doesn’t exist

 

The difference between time and timelessness

The birth of the cosmos

As we understand it

Through the first sound

Rhythm

The beat of a drum

Turning into the never ending

Tick

Tack

Tick

Tack

Of the clock on your wall

Sound and time

Conditions to one another

 

A person

Incapable of understanding the vastness of infinity,

The interconnectedness of self and world

And the paradox of being a creation and creator

Simultaneously

 

A soul

Uncomprehending of chronology,

Solid mater

And the illusion of certainty

Finding itself caught in a body

 

Human existence

A fine playground to gain experiences

Learning about self and other

Where the self

And the other

Are in fact

Nothing but reflections of the same universal truth

 

Existence of each individual

Dependent on interaction

My shadow

Visible only through the light you shed on me

Our unique dynamic

 

There is

No presence

Of me

Without a “you”

No time

Without a sound

No now

Without a breath

 

Painting: Pablo Amaringo

I am Racist

We were driving down the highway

Me on the steering wheel

You next to me

I see your face freeze

As my sister from the back

Merrily touches your hair

Grabbing into it, massaging your skull

“It really feels like sheep’s’ wool!

You’re our family’s little black sheep, sweetie!”

It painfully reminds me

Of how I learned

That I was racist,

Too

 

When we first met

I used to tell you:

“I don’t think Germans are racist.”

And specifically, I wasn’t racist, of course.

We don’t really have much of a history with Black people in Germany, do we?

What are even the stereotypes we hold of Blacks?

I couldn’t see any issue.

 

Racists are those Americans

Where policemen shoot Blacks without proper reason

Or the South Africans

With their long history of Apartheid

 

But with time

I learned to understand the kind of racism

That left scars in your heart

Because racism

Isn’t just the punch in the face

The angry yell

Or the shot of a gun

 

Racism is

The hundred unthoughtful remarks

The curious gazes

And the closed doors

That you encounter

Solely

Because of the colour of your skin

The frizzy hair

The full lips

 

Racism is

When I say:

You dance so well

You got the rhythm in your blood

Probably from your tribal festivals

 

Racism is

When the photos I bring back home

Portrait only the mud huts of the Massai

But not the skyscrapers of Nairobi

 

Racism is

When I say

You’re so good in bed

Much more driven by your instincts

Wild, like an animal

 

Racism is

Anything, really

That feeds stereotypes

Tells the same old story

Of Africa as the uncivilised continent

With people close to nature

Not quite

So head-driven like us

Not quite

So materialistic like us

 

Cause in the end

What does that mean?

Underdeveloped, underprivileged and less intelligent

Just put in a different way

 

Ignorance is bliss

They say

And ignorant

Are those who are unintended racists

Ignorant of the pain they cause

 

The catch 22 is this:

The ignorant doesn’t know about his ignorance

 

I was ignorant

And I learned my lessons

Through exposure

Through discussions

 

The world will only become a less racist place

If everyone

Who is racists without intend

Gets the chance to learn their lesson

Learns

That even well-intended, even curious remarks

Can cause another scar

 

Awareness can only happen

By making what may seem obvious

Visible to those

Who don’t see it,

Yet

 

(Painting: Sam Spratt)

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Hello Baby

"Whenever I want to laugh, I read a wonderful book, 'Children's Letters to God.' You can open it anywhere. One I read recently said, 'Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy."

 

(Quote: Maya Angelou, Photos: Tanja Schomann)

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Natural Spectacle

When I’m mad, I’m like a storm

In the evening of a hot summer day

My angry voice

Like thunder

Awakes the neighbours

Makes people shudder

Vases, like lightning, hit the ground

Smashed

 

My lust a humid day in the jungle

My arms like lianas

Wild and untameable

Grabbing what they long for

The smell of plants and the earth

The song of birds, the roar of a feline

All senses focussed

Sweat dripping down the body

Addictive intensity

 

My sadness is like the monsoon

In a big Indian town

It pours and pours

and won’t stop

Mascara runs down my cheeks

Like the splashes of a dirty puddle

On a white summer dress

The vortex of misery

Is sweeping down the streets

 

We are two

You and me

I’m like the seasons

Change is unavoidable

Hope and fear, love and hate

I try them on and let them pass

Like the leavy dress of a tree

They come and go

 

But you

Are not a fan of seasons

When the thunder hits your ear

You say I’m dramatic

The heat of the jungle makes you drowsy

And you want to move back to colder climates

The running tears of the monsoon

Leave you overwhelmed, soaked and uneasy

 

I’m too much for you

You say

You’d be much better off

In a stable climate

Composed and understanding

Like sunny California maybe

 

But I can’t help myself

I am what I am

With all the intensity

With all the brutal force

And with all the passion

 

I wish

You could be a caring witness

And provide a space

For me to go through my emotions

 

Natural spectacles aren’t about you

They are about myself

I don’t demand a reaction

I demand acceptance

Embrace the authenticity in it

Embrace me as I am

 

Painting: Henri Rousseau

Your Choice

Here’s the thing with pain

It is like a spider,

Weaving its net around you,

So tight that you lose your breath,

Can’t move

It’s like a scorpion,

Pushing its poisonous sting into you,

Racing heartbeat, shock

It’s like a boa,

Absorbing you with its massive jaws,

Eating you alive

 

But then it’s not,

Because you’re in charge

It’s up to you to end it at any point

 

You can decide to see it not as pain,

But as a challenge

An opportunity for growth

 

Marcus Aurelius once said:

“Choose not to be harmed -

and you won’t feel harmed

Don’t feel harmed -

And you haven’t been ”

 

So why would you ever decide to feel harmed?

Instead of choosing strength?

 

It’s the habit of suffering,

That we are so used to

The momentum of pity,

That drags us along

And jumping off that high-speed train

Of misery

Seems daring

Almost impossible

 

We know

That the jump will set us free

Yet we decide to be

Captured by the spider

Stung by the scorpion

Swallowed by the boa

 

Again and again

We cry

We sob

We moan

 

Instead of choosing liberty

Which is a present reality

At any point

Open to us to embrace

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Climax and Abyss

Naked skin. Perfect intimacy, yet so far apart.

The side of my face tightly pressed against your chest.

Kaboom… Kaboom… Kaboom…

“Isn’t it crazy”, I say to you “that our life depends on the rhythmic cramps of this one big muscle in our chest? How the “person” inside us is just gone, when it stops beating?”

I imitate the pumping of a heart with my tiny fist.

Clench, release. Clench, release.

“Mmmhh”, you answer.

 

I shut up.

I know it’s not exactly a chatty moment, but I like the comfort I get from thinking aloud about topics that distract me from my deeper worries.

Your smell has changed since you came to my house.

From a fresh herb garden and the sea breeze running through the leaves of a coconut palm

To the scent of an angry tiger, moist and acidic.

 

Ain’t we a match made in heaven?

You tell me your past and I feel you’re talking about myself.

The struggles you went through, the decisions you took.

Your conscious effort to be more than what you were conditioned to be.

The choices you make and your reasoning behind it.

The relationships you foster and the freedom you are fighting for.

The freedom you demand, the freedom you give and the freedom you discover in the nature of being.

The sentences I start and you finish, the co-creation of understanding simplicity.

 

You clear your throat.

My attention switches back to the present moment, the bed we lie in.

Bliss and embarrassment collide.

So close, so far apart.

The pressure of expectation, the cosiness of your arms and the disenchantment between us.

I wanted you, didn’t I?

When we got to know each other, I wanted you, didn’t I?

When you hugged me, I wanted you, didn’t I?

When you kissed me, I wanted you, didn’t I?

When you ate me, I wanted you, didn’t I?

When you stepped out of bed to grab a condom, I wanted you didn’t I?

 

Lust is a fragile bond.

Triggered by the mysterious,

kindled by spontaneity,

inflamed by wanting gazes and welcoming touch.

 

Lust is a fragile bond.

Shaken by doubt,

Hit by reason,

Extinguished by worry.

 

A match made in heaven,

You’re my mirror.

In our aspirations as much as in our hesitation.

In our spiritual climax as much as in the erotic abyss.

 

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The Power of Symbols

I found this sculpture of Maria & Jesus in the old town of Artà. The red colour on it made me hesitate and take this picture. Technically, it is nothing more than a sculpture of a woman with some red splashes on it. But cultural imprint left its marks on me, so I was wondering whether the red splashes were an act of vandalism or even religious heresy. Did somebody try to make a statement against the church? Was it a member of a different church who acted out of anger? It seemed brutal to me to splash colour on such a meaningful persona as Maria.

 

But isn't that exactly where so much trouble in our world comes from? We turn random items into "symbols" and give them heavy meanings. Splashing colour on a Maria becomes an act of religious hostility - no matter if the person who did it had this meaning in mind or not. 

 

It reminded me of a situation in which I was the organiser of an event called "Students for Europe". The attendees were - as the name suggests - students from different European countries. We had used flags to decorate some of the tables in the lounge area, which didn't land well on some of the participants. They said we're degrading their countries by misusing the flag as a tablecloth. Again, in the bottom line we were using an actual piece of cloth as a a tablecloth. In our own eyes, there was no deeper meaning or act of hostility involved. The meaning and all those heavy associations are just a societal construct. 

 

I wish more people were aware that all of these heavy meanings are totally made up in the end of the day and that churches, flags, crosses are not inherently what we associate with them. Maybe, if less people were so obsessed with religious and national symbols, we would all live a more relaxed life in this world.

 

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Reason, Season, Lifetime

"Friend" is a term that we use for vastly different people in our lives. Some friendships last a lifetime, other just for the time of a holiday. Some friends know all our secrets and others are fun to party with, but we would never open up about intimate topics to them.

 

Sometimes, I got the impression that only a long-term and intimate friendship is a “real” friendship. This led to me feeling obliged to stay in touch with everyone I had a close connection with for some time. It also made judge those friendships, which are heaps of fun, but rather superficial. I felt that these friendships don’t live up to my standards of deep discussions and soul bonding.

 

But then I read a quote, which changed everything:

 

There are friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime.

(author unknown to me)

 

Basically, the quote takes a lot of pressure from those friendships, which are not “friends for a lifetime”. Let me explain this in more detail.

 

Friends for a reason are those friends that change your life in one way or the other. A friend for a reason might be a person who you meet at your first Salsa class and who teaches you the first moves of the dance. You click, you have fun together, you learn from your friend. But other than Salsa, you don’t share much. Once you are a good dancer yourself, your reason to meet up with your Salsa friend is gone and you move on.

 

Friends for a season are those friends, who are part of our daily lives. A friend for a season might be a classmate at high school. You sit next to each other in the classroom and you hang out in the breaks. You have fun discussing the latest gossips with the friend and you help each other with home works. Despite the comforting feeling the friendship gives you, the friendship is not based on common interests, but shared environment. Once the season (high school, your undergrad, the internship,…) is over, the friendship slowly fades away.

 

Friends for a lifetime, in the other hand, are not necessarily present in our daily lives. These are friends we have an intimate connection with. They know our secrets and no matter for how long we have not seen them, once we start talking to them, we feel like coming home and open up about secrets, plans and dreams.

 

For me, these categories helped me understand why certain friendships are fine and totally fulfil their purpose, even if they are not friendships for life.

 

 

(painting: Auguste Renoir)

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New to the System

 

It’s so easy to judge people, when you’re in your own environment and in your own comfort zone.

 

A short while ago, my friend Govoi moved from Kenya to Germany and I was his go-to person during the days when he was settling in. It was his first trip to a Western country. One day, he wanted to come back home by train from his university. I sent him the train connections including directions on how to change from train 7 to train 18 at a station called Neumarkt. At some point, Govi called me and said that there is no train with the number 18. I checked Google maps and another transport app and told him that it MUST be somewhere at Neumarkt and that he should just look on the other side of the road. 20 minutes later, he called me back and said that he tried everything, but he still can’t find his train. I asked him to approach other people around the station and ask where the train leaves. “I don’t even speak German and people stare at me, cause I’m a foreigner”, he replied. “Ok, let me come there to pick you up then”, I replied slightly annoyed. It turned out that train number 18 is a subway train and not an over ground train like the other ones that leave at the station – and Govoi simply didn’t know about subway trains.

 

Now, to be honest, my first thought was that it can’t be that hard to change trains and that Govoi is clearly a very confused and naive person.

 

But then I remembered our trips to rural areas of Kenya. I didn’t understand a word of the local languages and it was impossible for me to remember the difficult names of the different villages we were traveling to. What is more, I had no idea how to figure out where the Matatus (minibuses) are going or where to get off. It was a mystery to me how people find their way without bus schedules and roadmaps. I was lost – at least as much as Govoi was lost in Germany.

 

So, I thought to myself that we easily take the systems that we are used to for granted and we forget that in other parts of the world, things work in entirely different ways. We judge people, because they fail to understand our systems and we act arrogantly when they need our help.

 

Let’s keep in mind that all foreigners – immigrants, refugees, exchange students – might be helpless in some situations, but at the same time they are more knowledgeable than us in the systems where they originally come from.

 

 

(The photo shows Govoi sorting out our transport in Kitale, Kenya)

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