Postings from the void of Banausia

  • Refuge and die-hard habits

      • kaestel.dk

    On rare occasions, but as often as possible, I pack my refuge gear – my computer, my slightly larger than travel size orange juicer and my swim shorts – and I head of to Agaete on Gran Canaria. It's one of my favorite refuges in the world, and when I need several days of in-depth room for reflection and writing, it's the one closest to home.

    Obviously I go there by train – it's departs from the Harry Potter platform at the Central Station, right next to the free coffee stand. Shhh. Yes, that is how I get there.

    Agaete is situated on the North-western coast of Gran Canaria. It's quite isolated and as far from the diabolical hellholes on the southern part of the Island as possible. It's just sitting there, yet unspoiled, with on ocean view as far as the eye can see and a mountain range as a perfect backdrop to the sound of the birds and the waves. The natural volcanic pool at beach, is perfect for a later afternoon swim and it's never crowded. At the same time, I want to share it with the world and keep it a secret. It deserves both.

    This whole refuge-thing is loaded with strict habits. It's important to avoid distractions, for it to fulfill its purpose. I need to leave the obligations of everyday life behind, and not deal with any practical matters. So I've developed a set of habits, to allow for exactly that. Which buses to take to get there, where to shop and for what. In-and-out Burger style – without burgers. No thinking required.

    The no thinking part, however much it serves the need of the moment, is also a potential pitfall, and this time I fell. Again. That goes for all kinds of habits that replace awareness – but this one hit me in the face, like stepping in the same dog poop three times in a row, third time barefoot – on purpose.

    The habits included stopping at Carrefour in Las Palmas, to get some stuff I normally couldn't get in Agaete. The need expired years ago, but the habit remained. I was somehow caught in this old pattern, that I just followed along into the lions cage, blindly. When I arrived at the infamous bread section and they didn’t have any more of my usual bread, I just carried on. I was so pleased to find local goat cheese and chili, which they rarely have in Agaete, that I just carried on some more. Somehow it made sense.

    It took about half an hour of wandering aimlessly in the aisles, before I had a flashback to last time I was there, when I promised myself I would never do that again. 5 minutes later I remembered the previous time, when I promised myself the same. 45 minutes into the experience I observed myself being utterly paralyzed and incapable of making decisions, with a growing sense of stress, which is exactly that same thing that happened the two last times. WTF?? I can’t believe I forgot this. I purposefully didn’t buy any chocolate from Mondelez because I try to avoid supporting multinationals, but I still went to Carrefour??? Shit. ;-)

    What added to the irony, is that they have both local goat cheese and chili in Agaete. Haha.

    It’s very curious, but it almost feels therapeutic to have gone through it again. What a blind creature of habit I can be. Talk about die-hard habits – those are the ones that make the world stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    I blame my OCD and excuse myself with being really tired – but please, please remind me, should the chance ever arise. I'm probably doing this, more than I know.

  • Image: think.dk

    Change is coming. Soon.

      • kaestel.dk

    For the past 7 months I have been busy re-establishing think.dk as a think tank and center for acceleration of sustainable change. It's an ongoing process, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just last week we hosted our first Rebelle Yoga class and there is much more to come.

    The think.dk project has been an ongoing project for almost 20 years. I actually registered the domain name all the way back in 1998, but years before that I had this overwhelming urge to cause reflection and ... change.

    Yesterday, when I was considering having an updated door-poster made for our new center, saying: "Change is coming", I also remembered that one of my very earliest online chat names was "change", and from a certain angle it almost appears as if nothing has changed. Unfortunately this is both true and untrue.

    For some reason, I have kept a stack of old news papers. By now they are about 10 years old and when I occasionally browse through one of them I am shocked by how close it comes to present day news. The names may have been changed, but all the themes and problems are the same. Nothing has changed.

    And yet, when looking into the details, a lot of things have changed - not in terms of theme, but in terms of severity. My stack of old newspapers provides a very interesting reference point and, in my opinion, one that paints a more realistic picture than my memories of 10 years past.

    We get older. We gain new perspective. We have positive individual experiences. We collect more faaantastic stuff. We probably feel a bit richer in one way or another and all of this may leave us with the impression that things are generally getting better. That life is easier. But it isn't.

    If you feel richer, it is only because you have worked hard for 10 more years. That is 10 years less to live, and what do you have to show for it. The result simply does not match the effort, only most of us are too busy working (and being distracted by clever advertising) to notice. Oh, Ice cream ... and then back to work.

    Maybe that is also what leads us to not act, though we are continuously being made aware of the severity of our problems through social (and critical) media. Some even try hard to avoid the critical news - I don't have time to deal with that – as if my life weren't complicated enough already. It's all conspiracies anyway. I wish it was.

    think.dk is indeed my attempt to counter this tendency to not act, just because you don't have time. I don't have time either. I find time. I stir it up with endless patience and appreciate every little step I make.

    Change is coming!

  • Bewildered

      • kaestel.dk

    You flashed before my eyes.
    Again, just a glimpse.
    Like a feather, with the weight of life.
    I stalled. I wondered.
    What does it mean?

    A swoosh of longing.
    I can't think.
    Your light is still in my eyes.
    The stubborn silhouette, refusing to dim.
    Just do what?

    You might be a witch for all I know.
    In hiding.
    Thank God for all the witches.
    And the places to hide.
    Did you fall on purpose?

    It is blurry. So am I.
    There is more to reason than rationale.
    More to you than pretty smiles.
    Perhaps I shouldn't ask.
    Is there more to me?

    There is a void. Inside me.
    I meant to catch you.
    There is so much I mean to do.
    And I still wonder.
    Why do you flash before my eyes?

  • Exile: Gran Canaria

      • kaestel.dk

    I am currently on my way home from Gran Canaria.

    I have been in exile for the previous 5 weeks in an attempt to create the optimal atmosphere for philosophizing, reflecting and writing. I very consciously removed myself from the routines of everyday life, with the exception of occasional grocery-shopping and cooking my daily meals. Aside from those bare necessities, I have been sitting in my chair or lying in the hammock with my computer non-stop for 5 weeks.

    A couple of years ago I found El Angosto in Agaete by coincidence. A then well hidden treasure on the north west side of the island - at the greatest possible distance from the tourist nightmare plastered all over the south and south-east of the island. Located high on the hillside, on the outskirts of Agaete, it is facing the ocean and the sunset to the right and a high rising unspoiled mountainside if you care enough to turn you head just slightly to the left. The place is quiet, relaxing and has a truly inspiring view.

    It's about 5 degrees colder in Agaete, than in the touristic south. Ironically that is all it takes to keep tourists away. That also makes it just cold enough to concentrate and warm enough to wear shorts. What else can one ask for. El Angosto is situated in a charming rustic building from the 60s. The front patio is as rich in dense biodiversity as the accommodation is simple. It's very simple - and as this is not my first visit, I have come to know what to bring from home to: a juicer and a bucket to store my homemade tomato-salsa. This results in a very, very affordable refuge with every need covered. Hats off for simple living!

    Yes, it is indeed a huge luxury to be able to seek refuge on Gran Canaria to reflect and write. I think everyone should grant themselves this luxury at least once in life. The goal is by no means luxury – it is peace and time for uninterrupted reflection. I have carefully and rationally made choices to provide the best value for my money, and in the end of the month, I have spent less money by staying here, than I would have if I had stayed back in Denmark.

    Though Gran Canaria typically brings up associations of holidays and relaxation in the sun, that is pretty far from what I have endured during the past 5 weeks. It has been an intense and constantly challenging process. An emotional roller coaster ride. A cocktail with even and incompatible parts of helpless despair and unroofed grandeur. Just about as much as I can handle without losing my mind.

    However challenging it was, I succeeded in reaching my goal. I finished my first novel and the first draft of my plan to save the world. Oh. In case you don't know me that well - yes, I am trying to save the world. From my point of view, the world needs saving if we are supposed to be allowed an extended stay on this planet. And I kinda like that idea.

    But now it is time to rest for a while. Gather strength and wax my surfboard before the next wave arrives. I will spend a lot of time with my son, whom I haven't seen for the past 5 weeks. I will talk to some publishers about my novel and wait for the team to provide the first round of feedback on my plan. And stare into thin air. And sleep.

    My exile has ended. For now. The next phase will start soon.

  • Questioning the Phillipines

      • kaestel.dk

    On a personal level, visiting the Philippines have been a both joyous and frustrating exploration of "letting go". It is a concept I find troubling, especially due to my own control disorder. And in the name of exactly that disorder, I need to stress that there is a big difference between "letting go" and "giving up". Just saying. I am definitely not training my "giving up"-side, but I clearly need to keep practicing my "letting go" skills a little while longer.

    When observing the quality of life here, it is easy to feel the need to tell the Filipinos how things should be done, because from a Danish point of view, there is so much room for improvement. But aside from it being rude (and yes, I am well aware I am generally rude - now and all the time), it would be a complete failure for a number of reasons, rudeness not even being one of them.

    You can't be too obsessed with details out here. In fact, details doesn't appear to exist. If you order an omelet and get a sunny side up fried egg, just roll with it or prepare to wait another two hours to get an eggnog. You ordered something with egg, you got something with egg, you should be happy.

    If something would be expected to take 30 minutes anywhere else in the world, be prepared for it to take two hours here. After two hours, I think it is OK to become impatient - as long as you realize it might not help the least. It is a very different life out here - there is no rush, there is typhoons. There is no point in rushing, especially as you would be the only one - everyone else is busy typhooning (keeping calm and waiting for it to go away).

    There is this confusing mix of vaguely expressed and unnuanced personal opinion, with an undertow of self interest, well balanced with humility and best intentions, that seems quite unique. Personal opinion is, of course, very directly affected by the ever present need, but since details do not exist in the Philippines, nuances are rarely a factor in any expression, and their truly honest humility simply prevents them from really cheating you - even when you are clearly either stupid or desperate. On more the one occasion I deliberately didn't ask for the price of a tricycle ride beforehand just to test this, and when asking for the price (when it is in fact too late to undo), I was met with this answer: What you like, sir. Now, I really do appreciate the trust put forward in that response, but I think it also illustrates how hard it is to get a clear answer out here.

    I was continuously disappointed and confused with the poor quality and assortment of fruit in the Philippines. Everywhere I went - in the local markets AND in the big supermarkets. How the hell can a country like the Philippines have so little fresh fruit to offer locally and why (the even more hell) is a fruit smoothie made up of 4 different powders and ice cubes, instead of fresh fruit, when I can pick 10 bananas fresh off a tree less than 15 meters away? WTF?

    The Philippines is a major Avocado producer, and yet I didn't see even one Avocado during my 3 weeks here. Every single (pitiful small) orange, mandarin or clementine was imported from China. Most Pineapples where simply rotten, right there on the shelf. With all the fruits supported by this climate, I am still looking for a valid explanation, why mangoes, bananas and watermelons were the only fruits of decent quality, regularly present.

    (My deeply depressing guess is that the majority of the production is owned and exported by the multinationals)

    And ... Catholicism is clearly no ones salvation. Despite intentions it is more likely what keeps the poor in line - in order to maintain the status quo of a privileged few, paid for by the lot. Since I was here alongside both the pope and the Sinolog celebration, meanwhile they were arranging pedigree (or whatever) demonstrations against Islamic Fundamentalism back in Denmark, especially one thing requires a mention: Religious fanaticism is not reserved for Islam. It is equally scary in any dress. And especially so when its followers are scared and desperate.

    I really don't have any suggestions for the Filipinos. It's a hard life, keep the good mood. I wish you good luck and hope the weather improves ... soon.

    Sigh.

    Image: Enough rice?

    Image: YAG's eatery