Transition Time?

OK, so let’s back up a little. Stop, Reflect, Listen . . . ?

What for? I’m too busy as it is, I don’t have time for anything but working to keep my job, paying the mortgage, car payments, credit cards (for the new flat screen TV and that trip last Christmas), etc. etc., so on and so on. (Not you? Fill in the blanks, you know what I mean.)

Yesterday a friend visited the café and we were talking about these things, he’s an elderly gentleman, he’s been around, and he’s African-American, which is relevant because I brought up the subject of slavery, one of the abominations of mankind, at least one we are aware of. But there is another form of slavery, which we are mostly unaware of, which is perhaps more treacherous for its deceptive nature and ability to permeate everything we do, even think; it’s the slavery of our mind.

This slavery doesn’t put us in shackles which cut into our skin until we bleed, it doesn’t work us into a sweat until we fall down exhausted, and it doesn’t rob us of our dignity until we cry, – this is much worse.

This other slavery tells us we are no good until we buy that big house, drive that new car or take that vacation everybody is talking about. I am no good until I can show that I have all of that, am doing all of those things; bigger, better, faster, more often than everyone else. And I believe that I’m no good even though I know that this behaviour is killing me. It’s this “knowing” that is interesting.

We used to be able to say: “look at the poor guy, working so hard he’s gonna get a heart- attack” only now, not is it only killing me, and anybody else that gets into the game, it’s destroying the very environment that supports life on earth! People, we have to stop this nonsense! Life is more than stuff !

(See Annie Leonard’s “Story of Stuff” on YouTube for a great story!)

OK, slow down Christer; I can get carried away. This is what happens when I wake up at 4.30 am and start writing on my blog; I get angry. I’m 51 years old, (born 1958), and considering that most of this went down during the past 50 years, I am co-responsible for the most destructive period in the history of human kind, not me alone of course, I won’t take the whole blame, but as part of a collective responsibility, and I am angry – in a slow, soft, calm, quiet sort of way.

There is a way out, a window of opportunity as it were, but it’s closing – and it’s closing fast.

The opportunity is to embrace change; change the way we do things, change the way we think, but change is perhaps not the right word; we need a radical transformation of the mind, and how do we do that, if the only mind at our disposal is the enslaved mind? How do we fool a fooled mind?

I think I have a clue: we don’t “do” anything, we don’t “think” anything (I call it working towards a “Zero Perspective”), rather, we work very hard at creating the conditions for things to happen.

And this is where our choices come in (a.k.a. “free will”); we choose not to do what everybody else does, we choose to ask ourselves: DO I REALLY NEED THIS? Will this “thing”, will doing this determine who I am, who I really am? Will this “thing”, doing this make me happy?

Or is happiness something else?

What is better; a walk in a shopping centre (with a credit card charging more than 20% p.a. interest), or a walk in the forest picking blueberries, and mushrooms, and lingonberries (we’re talking Sweden here)?  – I’ll give you a hint; the t-shirt on sale at the shopping centre might be coming from a sweat shop in Asia and you’ll have forgotten about it by next month. The blueberry jam on the other hand you can enjoy on your pancakes long into the winter (if you were serious about your forest walks), while debating life on earth with a friend or looking into the eyes of a loved one (or both).

What will make you happiest? What do you choose?

So we’re in Transition Time (yes we are – whether we like it or not), going from something that was, to something that will be. The past projecting into the future, the past repeating itself, unless we Stop, Reflect, and Listen . . .

What will it be? Do we collectively have the courage to make the right choices? More importantly, are we capable of fooling the mind; are we capable of doing nothing, thinking nothing – actively, intensely?

Do we have the courage to shed the shackles of slavery; the slavery of the mind?

Think about it.

Posted in Leadership, Open World Café & Gallery, Stop, Reflect & Listen . . ., Sustainability | 1 Comment

What Is This Really About?

We didn’t need the financial crisis to tell us that something was wrong. We didn’t need the environmental crisis to tell us something was wrong. Social injustices coupled with ignorance and poverty has been with us for a long time. There is no justification or excuse for the fact that more than half the population of the world, that’s more than 3,500,000,000 human beings, are unable to lead dignified lives; where fathers and mothers can’t bring home enough food for the family to eat a healthy meal, where hygienic conditions instead of reducing, are a major cause of widespread disease, where education is not available to help human beings develop as human beings, unburdened by the prejudices of local cultures, religions, and politics.

So let’s face it; the financial crisis and the environmental crisis are just wake-up calls on the crisis of humanity, and it’s our third strike.

Recently I was in London, where our oldest daughter Christiana had organized an event to introduce Open Word Foundation, the Café, and the “Replanting a Rainforest” project. It was a wonderfully arranged evening in a beautiful setting in the best neighborhood, just around the corner from Princess Diana’s Kensington Palace. Some 30 people honoured us with their participation, all already involved in one way or another in work and projects to raise awareness about these urgent social, environmental and economical issues. I was genuinely impressed. I said so. I was humbled, and I said so. The energy and dedication of these and many other individuals like them is impressive. I wondered what could I possibly contribute to all the brilliance I was privileged to witness? I mean, they were already doing much more than I would have either the energy or the brains to accomplish!

And then slowly I began to think about it. Maybe, just maybe. Maybe my background, my experiences, all of them, maybe there was something I could do, a contribution of sorts. Maybe I could help by making people Stop, Reflect, and Listen . . . just a little bit more.

Thames CeramicsA few days before the event I had been taking a walk along the Thames River; it was a glorious beautiful day, and special in that it was a bicycling day and no cars were to be seen, or heard, just families laughing and the birds. It was also low tide and as I walked I saw a man walking along the riverside studying the objects exposed by the tide. I eventually found a staircase and joined him, discovering several pieces of broken porcelain and ceramics in the sand and among the tumbled riverbed stones. There were pieces of blue porcelain, red porcelain, pieces of glass bottles worn soft by the current, I found a handle off some cup or small pitcher and I thought of all the stories these objects had been a part of, if only they could tell.

And that, I think, is what it’s really all about; our stories, the stories we are told, and tell ourselves, the stories worn down slowly through the ages, the stories we carry with us and tell us how things should be, what we should expect, or not. We carry these stories regardless of whether they serve us well or burden us, unaware of these stories that are shaping our reality today based on what was yesterday.

So how do we create something new, if all we have are our old stories, even the worn down stories of ages ago?

There is a science to this (several sciences actually), which is all very interesting, and can be studied, but it’s also very simple; we have to make choices (just about the only thing we “have” to do); what stories can help us and which are holding us back? What are the obstacles keeping me from being the best I am, not could be, being the best I am? Because I am, we are, together, all those wonderful, inspiring, fun things, just waiting to break through all the stories; to shine through and lighten up our lives.

All we really have to do is Stop, Reflect, and Listen . . .

And then the real adventure begins.

Posted in Leadership, Open World Café & Gallery, Replanting a Rainforest, Stop, Reflect & Listen . . ., Sustainability | 1 Comment

Cracks On The Surface

It’s been almost four years now since I got what I had long been working for. At the time I was in Brazil getting ready to export furniture and art made of recycled tropical hardwoods and other recycled material to build a business built on the principle of a “triple bottom line”, in other words, a business taking into consideration the social, environmental, and financial results of an enterprise. As a consultant talking to business about the importance of a more holistic view in business and personal development I wanted to “walk the talk”.

The container arrived in Sweden some six months later, and together with a business partner we opened an art gallery and showroom in Stockholm. It started out well enough, but for various reasons we didn’t make the sales we expected and the business eventually became a burden. We closed the gallery (sales continued to pay the rent thanks to a telephone number on the window). A year later a choice had to be made; what to do? The best pieces had been sold, and many of the tables that remained had Cracks On The Surface, some wide enough to stick a finger through. Firewood or fire sale?

Kathrin and I had in the meantime moved to an island north of the city and we needed a base closer to town, clients had often commented on the nice atmosphere in the gallery, and the rent for the gallery in the suburb was reasonable. We bought the stock and opened a café.

Now four years after that trip to Brazil, I sit at my desk, with Cracks On The Surface, some wide enough to stick a finger through. We run the Open World Café & Gallery, a Business Lounge where I sometimes facilitate workshops on sustainability and leadership, where Kathrin has her Aromatherapy workshops and where we serve a wicked organic sandwich on home baked spelt wheat bread, homemade soups with locally grown produce, and recently pies with the chantarelle mushrooms we pick in the forest on the weekends on the island.

I can’t say that we’ve got the perfect mix yet that meets the triple bottom line criteria; there’s a high quotient on the social and environmental results; a lower carbon footprint and very happy customers, but the financials are illusive. Without the diversity of products and services however, we would not have had a chance.

We still sell some art and a table or two now and again, the old weathered (and now cracked) wood tables are especially popular, but I don’t think I’ll sell my desk with Cracks On The Surface, some wide enough to stick a finger through.

Posted in Brazil, Leadership, Open World Café & Gallery, Resilient Humanity, Sustainability | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

This Blog

I write. Not published, but I write, and as much as I would like to write a book and get it published, I have some serious doubts about whether I will ever get around to it. And I think, writing a book, it’s a one-way communication, not necessarily a bad thing, but I like dialogue, so I hope to develop a dialogue here on this blog.

I think this is a fascinating time to be alive. We live in a time on this planet which will determine the future of humanity. Of course this has always been true, but now there is an urgency, and we are seeing the consequences of our actions in “real time”.

Stop, Reflect, & Listen . . . The name on the header. Very important. Many dimensions to it, so I will do my utmost to make my readers Stop, Reflect, & Listen . . . and observe the world around us, we are all together on this fragile planet which is our home. Let’s take care of it, and ourselves, we are after all an integral part of this biological system, interacting with all other parts, and responsible for the reality we create.

And it seems that we aren’t doing a very good job.

What is a Resilient Humanity? This is a theme and one which will develop over time. It is borne of my strong feelings about our society, human beings, and our environment, the nature and landscapes in which we live and are an integral part of. And there is cause for concern; things are looking exceedingly darker, thrusting us into situations where we must make choices on how we want to live. This process of awareness is ongoing, and choosing not to make choices is also a choice, and something we are also responsible for. So what are the choices we have? I think it begins with asking some basic questions:

Where am I now? Where do I want to be? and, How do I get there?  I hope you join me in exploring these questions, and sharing your answers.

It should perhaps also be noted here that I live in Stockholm, Sweden, where my wife Kathrin and I run Open World Café, an organic lunch café and gallery, where we regularly organize events and activities around the subjects of sustainability and leadership, healthy food with the goal of stimulating the senses to promote sustainable change.

Some blog contributions can be read on:

www.openworldcafe.com (our virtual café community)

My other websites include:

www.zeroaeons.com (my main business)

www.openworldfoundation.org (the foundation which promotes the projects)

www.replantingarainforest.org (the flagship project)

Thank you!

Christer

Posted in Argentina, Brazil, Open World Café & Gallery, Resilient Humanity, Stop, Reflect & Listen . . . | 2 Comments