December 24, 2008

Frohe Weihnachten!

I wish you all wonderful holidays full of happiness and serenity! Lots of love from me to wherever you are! Robert

Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become.

You never know who these people may be - a roommate, a
neighbor, a professor, a friend, a lover, or even a
complete stranger - but when you lock eyes with them,
you know at that very moment they will affect your
life in some profound way.

Sometimes things happen to you that may seem horrible,
painful, and unfair at first, but in reflection you
find that without overcoming those obstacles you would
have never realized your potential, strength,
willpower, or heart.

Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness,
and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of
your soul. Without these small tests, whatever they
may be, life would be like a smoothly paved straight
flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and
comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless.

The people you meet who affect your life, and the
success and downfalls you experience, help to create
who you are and who you become. Even the bad
experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are
sometimes the most important ones.

If someone loves you, give love back to them in
whatever way you can, not only because they love you,
but because in a way, they are teaching you to love
and how to open your heart and eyes to things.

If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your
heart, forgive them, for they have helped you learn
about trust and the importance of being cautious to
whom you open your heart.

Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take
from those moments everything that you possibly can
for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk
to people that you have never talked to before, and
listen to what they have to say.

Let yourself fall in love, break free, and set your
sights high. Hold your head up because you have every
right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and
believe in yourself, for if you don't believe in
yourself, it will be hard for others to believe in

You can make anything you wish of your life. Create
your own life and then go out and live it with
absolutely no regrets.

And if you love someone tell them, for you never know
what tomorrow may have in store.

Learn a lesson in life each day that you live! Today
is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday. Was
it worth it?

(author unknown)

December 18, 2008

Freedom of Blogging

I came across the letter below on Nazy's blog and would like to share it with you. For me this is a symptom of our time, a time that brings a lot of new freedoms confronting us with old fears and all sorts of oppression.
A critical blogger community is among the most democratic instruments we have today, because all mass media are biased to some extent (no denying that), but blogger-to-blogger-reporting is a contribution to grassroots democracy in a way that was unimaginable before the internet. I think it is well worth the support and protection.

On a less extreme, but also quite important note, we who are not in danger of being arrested should think about the problem more like Randall Monroe does in this xkcd-comic strip


Following is an open letter in protest of circumstances surrounding the arrest of Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian blogger who has been detained in Tehran for over a month now.

We, the undersigned, view the circumstances surrounding the Iranian authorities' arrest of Hossein Derakhshan (, one of the most prominent Iranian bloggers, as extremely worrying. Derakhshan's disappearance, detention at an unknown location, lack of access to his family and attorneys, and the authorities' failure to provide clear information about his potential charges is a source of concern for us.

The Iranian blogging community is one of the largest and most vibrant in the world. From ordinary citizens to the President, a diverse and large number of Iranians are engaged in blogging. These bloggers encompass a wide spectrum of views and perspectives, and they play a vital role in open discussions of social, cultural and political affairs.

Unfortunately, in recent years, numerous websites and blogs have been routinely blocked by the authorities, and some bloggers have been harassed or detained. Derakhshan's detention is but the latest episode in this ongoing saga and is being viewed as an attempt to silence and intimidate the blogging community as a whole.

Derakhshan's own position regarding a number of prisoners of conscience in Iran has been a source of contention among the blogging community and has caused many to distance themselves from him. This, however, doesn't change the fact that the freedom of expression is sacred for all not just the ones with whom we agree.

We therefore categorically condemn the circumstances sourrounding Derakhshan's arrest and detention and demand his immediate release.


December 14, 2008

Yippieh, it's winter

Enjoy the season everybody!
This one is especially for you, Nazy!

December 09, 2008

A Christmas message

By now, most of you out there who celebrate it and probably anyone who occasionally steps out their front door will have noticed that Christmas is coming up. As I write this it becomes more clear to me than ever that you who read this and I myself writing this belong to a very elect group of people. After all we are sitting in a heated room, wearing enough clothes, are well-fed and own or at least use a personal computer which in my case cost more than the sum most people on this earth could use to survive a whole year (or more).

Anyway, with shops and streets decorated in my city, chilly weather outside and in some parts even snow, Germans look forward to their vacation and people ask each other whether they have all their presents together yet. Some feel obliged to give to everyone, others give few presents. We all get stressed and think about how we don't like to be stressed by all this stuff that comes up during the last days before Christmas. Do you have your presents ready? I don't. I trust that the people around me know of my love for them without me handing them some new CD or book or scarf. They should know because I try to tell them and convey them that they are more important to me than all this stuff. I think that is what we all really want to feel when we receive a present!

I might still give some presents to my family, but more important to me is thinking about the just as x-masy message of giving to people who hardly notice it's Christmas at all because nothing in their world changes during that time.

Please take a moment and think about it. Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) once said:
"I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means—except by getting off his back."

This is not supposed to be a beautiful post, but it should make us all thoughtful once again. Yet beautiful it can be in the way that it is in our power to increase the amount of happiness in the world not by buying more, but by loving more. I love you all! Be happy and don't forget to smile in the hustle and bustle of the malls.

November 25, 2008


Have you heard of the book "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie? Of course it is one of the big classics and a huge bestseller since its publication in 1936. This is one of the books that in spite of having a title that sounds like manipulation and another set of business tricks, has had a profound impact on me. It basically is a simple guide on how to treat people in everyday life, be it professional or personal and I found a lot of the advice really helpful and universally applicable. It has nothing to do with unproper behaviour, although manipulation probably comes in at some point, though not in the way one would think.

Among ideas like "Remember people's names (because for everyone their own name is the most important word in the world)" and such memorable quotes as "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do", there is one piece of advice that has been the most important for me:


It is the number one thing you can change in yourself that makes your life better by the minute. Smile when you buy a train ticket, smile when you get stopped by the police, smile when you thank someone for helping you out, smile when you get criticized, smile when no one understands you, at least they can like you then :) Smile on the phone, too! We can hear when someone is smiling!

Today smiling is easy for me, but I have had days when it was really hard. For those days there is a special trick: Stand in front of a mirror and try to smile. If it does not work at once, take your hands and help your mouth. If that does not help just laugh about how unwilling you obviously are to feel better ;)

Take care, and have a wonderful day!

November 05, 2008

Happy for the United States of America

Tonight Obama won the US election and people are celebrating all over this planet. Many are beaming with hope and Jesse Jackson had tears in his eyes when he learned of Obama's victory. People are yearning for the unifying force this first black man in the White House can be. They expect him to fulfill his promises and are enthusiastic about his personality. I am also genuinely impressed and content with McCain's way of bearing his defeat like the good man he is, aparting himself from the division his campaign created during the last months. This is a very good day for all of us!

As the pundits on TV already discuss what Obama's first steps as president should be, I leave you with the videos of the speeches of those two different but equally interesting people.

November 01, 2008

Good friends and life right now

Do you ever get the feeling that a good conversation with a friend can heal your soul from the inside out? I have had such conversations. Conversations that left me with new hope and a different perspective on the problems I would have to face at that time. Those conversations could also make the best moments in life even better because I find it is equally important that you share your joys with friends as your griefs. You are not less interesting because you don't worry about anything, you are not a spoiler of someone else's fun if you tell them about your sorrows. To learn that is essential for a good friendship!

The friends that can give me that feeling are the most appreciated and closest. I am trying to be for them what they are for me and hope I tell them often enough how much I need them and enjoy their company. Some of my friends are also part of my family, some family members are among my best friends. So I am not sure it is important to make that distinction.

Since my new semester has begun I have been quite busy, preparing a presentation on "The Sociology of Violence", a really interesting topic whose objective it is to analize the way we handle violence in public. On the one hand we never quite get to the core of the matter if we just occupy ourselves with the reasons and circumstances under which violence statistically or typically arises. On the other hand we enjoy ourselves watching movies that hardly ever get around showing some violence, because after all it is an integral part of the human condition, whether we think it will always be so or not. So that is one of my new topics.

Spanish also has made a good start. I sit in classes that discuss varieties of the language, historic development and almost extinct dialects, literature and morphological analisis, by which I mean splitting words into their smallest elements... I am amazed at how little effort I need and how much more motivation I have for this than for my former law studies. It makes me confident that I really could finish my studies as planned in less than two years time.

Meanwhile many of my best friends are just about to graduate or beginning to think more seriously about their future jobs. I can't think about it right now and although my future is on my mind a lot some things I cannot decide right now. But seeing the development in my friends certainly gives me that inner impulse to get on with it and reach the point where they are now. I have so many intelligent and interesting friends and wish I could be around most of them more, which I guess is part of my international life.

Now I am on my way once again from my parents' house to my university town. There is a party with some people I have not seen in a while and I am looking forward to exchanging some stories. If you feel a little lonely right now, leave me a comment and then call a friend you have been planning to contact for some time. It will be worth it. For me it always is! Be happy and have a nice Sunday!

October 18, 2008

Fal e Hafez

Her tresses were in disarray,
her face was warm and dewy,
her lips were smiling,
her dress collar was slightly falling apart,
she was singing a love poem,
she had a goblet of wine in hand
and she was slightly out of control

Her beautiful eyes were bellicose and her lips expressed regret
Last night at midnight she came to my bedside and sat down

She approached her head to my ear and in a soft voice said:
Oh, my faithful lover, are you sleepy?

A lover to whom such a nocturnal wine is offered is infidel to love
if he does no become a worshipper of wine


October 16, 2008

Back on track

I have been going through a phase of utter unproductiveness. And if I say that I mean that I even passed entire days not leaving my flat. I just had no surge of energy that would lift me up and carry me to all the things I would like to do. Then I found out that my failure at law meant that I would not be able to continue studying that subject, so something had to be done. And I did!

Now I study Spanish linguistics, which has been within the range of my interests for a while (at least the Spanish part, being quite ignorant on the topic of linguistic theory, did you know that there was such language as the one called Dolomite's Ladinian?). So this week apparently has been busy so far and I spent hours in the library, which has not seen much of me over the last year to be honest.

What are those phases when you decide to get up and get stuff done and you simply do it without bothering and without tiring, and the next time you find yourself in that big hole that kind of absorbs all your energy and will power and makes you lie around like some useless couch potato? I feel that it is of no avail to question this too much, because those phases always pass. Accepting the phase and seeing it as it is, temporary, helps me feel better while unproductive. But there is guilt in me, a bad conscience and fear for my future if I don't get certain things done in time. But hey, I just gave up part of my studies and am a lot happier than before :) You see, one never knows what anything is good for.

Enjoy your days, whether you are currently hardworking or slacking off! May you all have the energy and inner peace you need :)

October 09, 2008

Mejor estudiante

Earlier this week I got a call from my host university in Spain. They asked for my Skype and Messenger contact and if I would be available Thursday at 11am for a video conference, because...they had decided to give me the award for best exchange student of the past term. Nice, I thought! That is exactly what I needed on the day I found out that I had failed for the third time in a law exam and would have to change my subject ;) Turns out, they asked around a bit among Spanish students and exchange students which of their "compañeros" they remembered most. And that was me, lucky to have such a lasting impression on people.

So today I got a chance to talk via webcam to a room full of Erasmus students and university officials about my time in Spain. After waiting for about an hour with changing views of people whose heads I could not see passing in front of their PC in Jaén, they called on me and I got so say "thank you and have fun guys, just like I did". Some time soon an envelope will arrive certifying that I did a good job at having a great time. Haha! That university is doing a great job of widening its international exchange program and creating the publicity needed in the city. I wish my little university would do more of that, too!

So this is a good day. Changes in my life are underway and I am looking forward to it. Real change ;-)

Meanwhile enjoy this with me *big fan of Jon Stewart* :

October 06, 2008

Un perro que comprendía la filosofía

Esto es un relato en español que acabo de escribir. Fue la inspiración de una amiga que me hizo escribirlo, porque el título lo inventó ella. Espero que os guste!


Sócrates era un cocker. Lo sabía y siempre había sido algo orgulloso porque los cockeres tienen una tradición larga. Miembros de su familia habían vivido en palacios y jardines reales. Se habían hecho famosos como perros de caza y favoritos de reyes y damas de la nobleza. Uno de sus antepasados, un llamado Wolfram von Potsdam und Niedertauern era el compañero de un hombre aparentemente famoso, un político que se conocía como Bismarck. Wolfram era confiado de este hombre quien lo llamaba amistosamente "mein treuer Wolf" (mi fiel Wolf).

Sócrates casi no había conocido a su familia, sólo a un hermano y a su madre, que estaban con él durante unas cortas semanas después de su nacimiento. Sin embargo su madre, Cecilia, le había impregnado con un gran orgullo y un amor de la filosofía. Era su propia filosofía que se podía resumir en una frase que le repitió muchas veces a su hijo: "No te olvides de tu herencia, Sócrates. Lo más importante es que estés con alguien quien te reconozca como lo que eres, un noble perro de inteligencia."

Desde aquellos días, en su opinión los más importantes de su vida, Sócrates se había esforzado de lograr la grandeza que su raza le exigía. Él quería ser el amado amigo de algún hombre grande o una mujer de la alta sociedad. Pero algo le pasó que iba a cambiar su perspectiva para siempre.

Estaba una noche con su dueña María, una chica joven de buena familia, estudiante en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Los dos salían para quedar con unos antiguos amigos del colegio, que su dueña María no había visto en muchos años. Era la primera vez que Sócrates iba al piso de gente que aún desconocía. Como muchas veces antes, Sócrates esperaba su oportunidad de impresionar a la gente con sus maneras educadas y su higiene impecable. Ni siquiera iba a bostezar porque entonces no podría impedir que la gente viera su lengua o, peor aun, se molestaría por el olor de su aliento.

Pero al llegar al piso de los amigos nada fue como anticipado. Ya en la puerta, sentía que algo iba mal. Veía una cara tímida, rodeada por mucho pelo largo y negro, retirándose un momento para aparecer otra vez con una sonrisa esforzada, hablando con María. Sócrates entendía que estaban hablando de él. Su dueña estaba hablando en voz un poco más alta, casi cabreada. La otra chica, ojeándolo desconfiadamente, mientras él la miraba con sus ojos oscuros y tranquilos, parecía ponerse más nerviosa con cada segundo que pasaba.
Al final, lo imposible sucedió: Su dueña le ató a él, Sócrates, a una planta grande que estaba al lado de la puerta del piso, y...lo dejó. Entró en el piso con la chica del pelo negro y sólo miraba atrás un breve momento antes de desaparecer dentro.

Sócrates, como era un perro bien educado no siguía su instinto de ladrar, para llamarla fuera, pero se echó a pensar tristemente.
¿Cómo puede haber pasado eso? se preguntó. Por qué actua la gente así. No me conoce, ¿por qué se comporta como si fuera algún chucho? ¿Acaso no soy un noble perro? ¿Acaso no tengo cultura y educación? ¿Por qué me tratan como un extranjero en quien no se puede confiar?

Durante dos horas estaba ahí, atado, humillado, delante de una puerta que significaba para él toda la injusticia del mundo. Una vez salió María para traerle un poco de agua y un hueso de pavo un poco salado. Pero él no podía ni mirarla por su traición. Seguía pensando y poco a poco iba comprendiendo.

Lo que le había dicho su madre era verdad, nunca iba a dudarlo, pero lo que antes pensaba de ello ya no valía. No todos los humanos podían reconocer en él la noble persona de buena familia que era. Existía gente ignorante, gente tímida y de mente cerrada que no estaba dispuesta o suficientemente valiente como para abrirse y entender. Sócrates se calmó un poco. No era su culpa, ni era culpa de la gente. Lo único que podía hacer era ser él mismo, sin fallos, orgulloso de su herencia y su educación. Con el tiempo, lo sabía, la gente tendría que enterarse.

Sócrates se fue de la puerta de este piso con su dueña. Alejándose de la chica del pelo negro miró atrás e intentó sonreír. Antes de cerrar la puerta una sonrisa tímida le respondió.


September 25, 2008


I have come home to Germany and it feels no more like returning home than when I moved back in with my Spanish friends two weeks ago. It is cold here and the long drive has weakened me so that my body reacted strongly to the change of climate and I stayed in bed today. Not much more need be said, just that life is good and that I wish you could see the beauty as I see it in this moment. Take this as a hint and as a little pointer to recognize the perfection all around you. The rain on your window and the tree's rustle. Enjoy!

September 17, 2008

On Moral Openness

I am passionate about what is going on in the world, politically, ethically, environmentally, socially and with regard to consciousness. I count myself as a liberal thinker and also as an openminded individual. I do not want to belong to a closed group that damns others for believing what they believe. And yet I cannot get a full understanding of how so many people embrace Sarah Palin's conservative ideas (here as they are seen by liberal bloggers). I wonder if I can escape this obstacle to my openness and be more understanding to what is really happening here.

The video below has shed some light on my question and shown that there is a principal divide among liberals and conservatives that seems hard to bridge. Though as Eckhart Tolle says (about whom I will soon post separately): "Awareness is incompatible with the ego." I take it this way and try just to be aware of my objections without judging. I guess the bridge will turn out to be already built or entirely unnecessary ;-)

September 15, 2008

On Education

When I think about my life I wonder at times where it is all leading. I am a student of sociology and also have classes on politics and law. I have a knack for learning languages though it is mostly to be able to communicate, not for the sake of learning. There is a feeling of responsibility for the world in me that will ultimately lead me into a position where I can excercise it for the advancement of my fellow beings on this planet.
Now this is all nice and it sounds like the tree-hugger in me. But what does it mean and how is all this self-definition useful if there is no clear mission to go with it?
Well, a mission is beginning to show on the horizon. When I was watching this video on, it became clear to me once again how powerful education, especially primary education, really is. What children learn during their early years has such an enormous impact on how they interact with the world that it seems to me one of the most powerful tools if you ever want to change the world. Many people know that and many also practice it unconsciously, though some do it with only their own interests at heart. Primary education should be universal as the UN development goals have stated. There must be a way for all children to bring their inner curiosity, openness and tolerance into society. I could live with this being my mission in the world!

I leave you with this talk by Sugata Mitra, an education researcher from India who describes his fascinating experiment. Life is ingenious, when its creativity is allowed to unfold itself.

In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education."

September 12, 2008

Once and now

Part of me
Has died
And won't return
And part of me
Wants to hide
The part that's burned

Once, once
I knew how to talk to you
Once, once
But not anymore

Hear the sirens call me home
Hear the sirens call me home

Part of me
Has vied
To watch it burn
And the heart of me
Has tried
But look what it's become

Once, once
I knew how to look for you
Once, once
But that was before
Once, once
I would have laid down and died for you
Once, once
But not anymore.

Hear the sirens call me home

************ Music from the movie Once ***************

Quisiera escribirte algo bonito, bonito de verdad,
pero se trata de despedirme, se me da muy mal.
Quisiera escirbirte algo sencillo, en realidad,
pero se trata de despedirme de alguien que no tuve jamás.

Y dime qué difícil es intentarse olvidar de algo que nunca tuvo lugar,
y qué difícil es dejar de imaginar, y que difícil es intentarse alejar.
Quisiera encontrar algún final que no, no sonará tan mal.

Difícil escribir algo bonito, se trata de un final,
no acabaré con un 'te quiero', no me dio tiempo a llegar.
Difícil escribir algo sencillo, en realidad,
que se hace algo cuesta arriba darse la vuelto y echar a andar.


Y antes de olvidarme, y antes de alejarme,
y antes de marcharme y que todo se acabe,
yo solo quería haberte escrito algo bonito, algo bonito de verdad.

Que difícil es intentarse alejar,
quisiera encontrar algun final que no,
no acabará tan mal.

********* Conchita - Algo bonito ************

August 28, 2008


I love to travel. It has become my favorite hobby and thinking about it, it might even be my favorite activity of all. I started early, getting familiar with the feel of other places under my parents guidance and for some time now I have been travelling on my own or with friends.

I have been so lucky to be able to spend some months living in Spain, where I met some of my best friends. Most of them share my passion for other countries and cultures and I have learned so much only by talking to them. I know that seeing the world today can be expensive, even if you are a backpacker or a pilgrim, because at least you should be able to afford leaving your home for some time, along with family, friends and a well-known environment. It is this cost that makes it hard and also very promising to spend time in other countries. So everybody should have the chance to go abroad at some point in his life. It does not matter much, how far you go, just that you are open to the differences that start beyond your personal horizon.

What I have learned is more than I could ever have experienced in a lifetime if I had spent it in one place. My life is rich because of the people I met and languages I have been able to practice, because of the lifestyles I adopted and opinions I have heard.

Travelling has rooted my credo deeply that openness is the key to a happy life. I will be leaving again for Spain tomorrow and see new places and people I have been missing. I am travelling with my companions to share experiences that are so important to friendship.

I will leave you with these two videos made by ex-videogame-programmer Matt Harding who took all his spared money to travel the world and became an internet legend that warms my heart :)

At least as good: the outtakes made after his second video, which was sponsored by a chewing gum company :)

August 19, 2008


I have not been writing for some time and I have had good reasons (mostly). It is summertime and I have been living it up with good friends from far and near. I spent some time in Leiden in the Netherlands with walks on the beach and rain showers in the marsh. I met up with old friends from highschool for barbecue and enjoyed days by the lake around here. I went canoeing and biking. I got to sing along to my grandpa playing the keyboard. I helped my uncle's family move into their new house. I got to throw my dad to the ground in martial arts training. My brother is happy and we are soon to take off on another adventure together, driving to Spain in my car. I also got a new laptop which has increased my quality of life enormously (speed, webcam and a lot more mobility).

I have been reading quite a bit and am currently writing a paper about communication and leadership in project groups. It is a topic within organizational sociology and a pretty interesting one especially for me, because I feel the relevance it is going to have in my future career. Did you know that the German Industrial Norming Institution (DIN) does not work with a category for leadership or social competencies within the project when deciding over its quality certification?!
Although the topic is nice, work is going a bit slow, mainly for the above mentioned reasons.

Never mind that, everybody keeps telling me. Just let it go and this too shall pass... I know, I can feel now, what I have been thinking for a long time. Just having the experience of those unfortunate phases passing and coming up again does not make you immune to them. Emotions can get in the way just as your diet or lack of sleep can. Whatever it feels like when you are stuck, eventually you will rise again and all those fears and the self-reproach will be forgotten, because you have not lost anything, only gained. Knowing that will not stop you from feeling that way, but it will help you to get to the other side! So, just relax :)

And if you are still not relaxed, consider this ;-)

August 04, 2008

A webcomic selection

In an effort to make your procrastination more efficient I would like to offer you my longtime experience and some pretty awesome little helpers for the many hours you, as I well know, spend NOT doing what you think you should be doing at that moment.

I will have Sinfest's genius artist Tatsuya Ishida have the first word:

Next up is Jorge Cham, creator of phdcomics, where at least every academic gradstudent finds a lot of his own life funnily portrayed (or so accurately that it hurts). See here one of the very wise insights into the life of my part of population:

And with all this new life that everyone leads on the internet you should also see the significance that little changes in your online profile can have (here shown from the angle of xkcd, A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language):

Facebook defines relationships. 'Yeah, we would have broken up last night, but the net connection was down.'

Every now and then webcomics can really make you think. They are some kind of philosophy light, the kind that could just let you drift off and spend some time relaxing inside your mind, because it reminded you of thoughts you had but never finished. Now is the time you can use for it! This example is by the Perry Bible Fellowship:

In other words, as you may well have guessed, I spent the time since my last post studying and procrastinating. Will you guess what took up more time? FYI: My exam in German constitutional law went well and my presentation got good feedback. No worries!

July 22, 2008

On changing your mind

When I was a kid I was afraid. I wondered whether I would ever have an opinion of my own. Everything seemed like it had been thought before. Sometimes I was proud of some product of my mind but then I realized that it did not really impress anyone.
I thought that maybe I was not very good at thinking critically because in most discussions I was jumping on bandwagons. In Germany we have another metaphor for that, "being a little flag in the wind", changing direction with it. That was what it felt like when I listened and then agreed, then kept on listening and agreed with the opposite opinion.
My problem was that I often could not decide which side I was on. I was afraid I could not define my own position which I thought every adult had to have. It seemed so important to know where you stood. A necessary prerequisite to stand up for yourself.

Today I have my own opinion. It developed without me really noticing it. It came from going with the current and letting all different views wash through my mind. I have learned to defend what I stand for. It also came from being educated and being shown the world through the tolerant and wise eyes of my parents. Most of all I probably learned through my own positive experiences with diversity. I think that most people today would describe me as rather principled.

The most important principle and one of the few I would accept for myself is openness. Being aware of the fact that you do not know yet what you will believe in the future, be it still far or very close, to me is a sure sign of wisdom. I try hard not to nurture preconceived ideas, although they are hard to let go. Through forming my own views I have found the true value of being a little flag in the wind.


...check out

July 18, 2008

Poema 6

Te recuerdo como eras en el último otoño.
Eras la boina gris y el corazón en calma.
En tus ojos peleaban las llamas del crepúsculo
Y las hojas caían en el agua de tu alma.
Apegada a mis brazos como una enredadera.
las hojas recogían tu voz lenta y en calma.
Hoguera de estupor en que mi sed ardía.
Dulce jacinto azul torcido sobre mi alma.

Siento viajar tus ojos y es distante el otoño:
boina gris, voz de pájaro y corazón de casa
hacia donde emigraban mis profundos anhelos
y caían mis besos alegres como brasas.
Cielo desde un navío. Campo desde los cerros.
Tu recuerdo es de luz, de humo, de estanque en calma!
Más allá de tus ojos ardían los crepúsculos.
Hojas secas de otoño giraban en tu alma.

Pablo Neruda

July 10, 2008

Autopoiesis or What is Life?

I just thought you might want to be taken on a trip through my current academic topic. You may never have heard of it, but it is probably the best definition of what life really is. The theory of autopoiesis was made popular by two Chilean neurobiologists, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, who started out with a theory on visual perception and ended up with this general theory on cognition and life.

It basically says that you call things alive that have boundaries that are produced by the thing itself and that consist of components that all interact and thereby also produce themselves :D Freaky, huh?

In other words, autopoiesis means self-reproduction and tries to explain the difference between a lifeless car factory, where you put things in on one end and get cars at the other end without fail, and a biological organism that is intertwined with its environment, but only uses the material that surrounds it to maintain its own metabolism, not to produce things it can't use itself. That is what life does! It sustains itself :) Stunning!

Varela also says that the study of buddhist meditation techniques and philosophy can help western cognitive science advance in their understanding of the mind. I am for it! There should be more interdisciplinary teaching everywhere!

July 03, 2008

On climate change

Let me tell you about the time I first saw the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore. It was a small cinema showing selective movies, not blockbusters. I went to see the film with a friend, a moderate environmentalist.
The demonstrator first started the wrong movie, which speaks for the little attention it had been given before.
There was also a group of schoolkids with their teacher, who obviously thought this to be a nice outing for the class. So did I, but when I noticed how little those kids could focus on the message, how little interest they showed, I was disillusioned. It was noisy and one time or another I turned to ask them to be quiet (thing I don't usually do in my need for harmony).
I was upset after the film, by the topic that is one of the things I get really passionate about, and about the obvious (and afterwards still continuing) unawareness of the whole problem among those youngsters. I hope there were at least a few quiet ones that actually saw the movie...

Take your time and think about this: Even if Al Gore is not right about every single point he makes, would you be willing to take the chance of not doing anything until it turns out it is too late and you should have acted before?

July 01, 2008


I am a pretty extroverted person as anyone who has met me would readily confirm. On most occasions I would intuitively talk to people or at least make some kind of contact. Even in elevators! I talk to the lady at my bakery, smile at random people at the bus stop, talk loudly with friends in the street and shortly after find myself talking to interested bystanders. Being social is a part of me. I like to connect and learn and be interested, because what I get back is knowledge and affection and love.

But then I also live alone. If I don't make sure I have company I don't get it. I can link myself in seconds, but I can shut myself away just as easily and sometimes I need that. It is a way of getting my head free. Letting emotions and thoughts flow that usually are developed in conversations with my people. That's when all the mental processes come and go and I have to cope with them without taking refuge in another person's head that I can empathetically access. I am forced to think about myself, feel my feelings without immediately expressing them and thereby transforming them. This is confusing and I choose to pick up a conversation with a piece of paper. I calm down. I am sure to somehow have grown spiritually. I will still not know what I should do, but I will not feel as overwhelmed any more.

Tomorrow I will go and see some friends! Or maybe the day after tomorrow...

June 14, 2008


A view on the situation between the Iran and the United States of America by a well known American public comentator Noam Chomsky

There are more parts to this interview, but I just wanted to emphasize this one, because I think he says some most important things that not only apply to this current situation, but could be a model to healthier international relations. People think pretty similarly in such very different countries such as the US and Iran. We should think more about the people when we think of other states and take public opinion into consideration before we judge the whole country. How many have heard of Iranian reformists and fighters for democracy outside Iran and the better informed intelectuals across the globe?

I quote the interview above: "Can we do anything to help Iran to become a functioning democracy? Answer is: yes we can! We could listen to the pleas of the very courageous Iranian reformers and democracy activists, who are pleading with the United States to call off the threats. That's people like Akbar Ganji, or Shirin Ebadi [...] they are saying: Drop the threats! And for a good reason, which we can all figure out. When you threaten a government it's gonna react."

Does it not make you more positive about the world that there are good people everywhere? Is it not worth to trust them instead of disregarding them and direct all your actions towards negative and aggressive people? My hope is that aggressive people will one day be less respected and that there will be more emphasis on helping the peaceful...

June 05, 2008


I would like to talk about relationships. I don't know if I am qualified by experience to talk about relationships, but then everything is relative and my experience probably is not so different from that which many of you share.

I do not believe in the one true love, but I absolutely do believe in true love. How is that, you ask, and I answer: I have experienced it myself and especially know that I have felt it (may I say feel it?). This is the strongest guarantee one can have, don't you think?

Every time I fell in love it was like a moment of becoming conscious, a moment of starting to be aware that there is something big to come and most of the time it really scared me. When awareness gradually develops and at the same time it becomes clearer and clearer that one's feelings are reciprocated, slowly life becomes more and more enveloped in this exciting new way of thinking. One goes out of one's way to stay true to this newly found love, to see how it grows and where it will all lead, in spite of the fear.

When days and months go by, this flower blooms and fear subsides. It makes way for pure joy and a feeling that the world is good and that there are no mistakes, only wrong turns that lead to something special and finally get you in a direction that is not worse than any of the directions you took before.

But nothing lasts forever. People and lives change, you never know when will be the next turn of the tide and fear may gradually spring again. It is the other side of the medal when little by little you notice that a relationship is ending... or changing. I have ended relationships in the past and it has never been easy. Most of the time I never even felt it was right, I just knew it rationally and over time everything came to me.

But humans are creative and people learn, so who can say what you find in your heart the next time you look? Maybe you become aware of something big...

May 27, 2008

Creating a just world

I watched this short documentary about the story of Mohammed Yunus, a Bangladeshi who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Learn about Mohammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank

Coming from a poor background, but with the lucky chance to get higher education, he little by little engaged in giving micro-credits to poor women in rural Bangladesh. The first loan was over 27 Dollars to 42 women. Today Grameen Bank counts 4 million members and has expanded into many other countries.

I was particularly impressed by his very clear advice about not giving up an idea you believe in. Yunus' demonstration of stubbornness in dealing with bankers all too hooked to the conventional ideas that created the status quo in the first place gives me hope and trust in my own capacity to reach something in this world.

May 20, 2008

The Secret

In my old blog I once had mentioned a movie called "The Secret". Then and now it does something for me which is very necessary. It reminds me of the importance of being positive and dispense the very feelings I would like to receive. It motivates me to maintain a good mood especially on days that I find me in a somber state of mind. You may think about the movie whatever you like. It has a sensationalist air about it and I admit that it contains very little to no scientific proof, but still... It is a question of belief and personal experience! If you have made the experience that it serves you better to be positive and grateful in what you give and receive in life, or whether you have gotten into the habit of mourning and rueing decicions you made.

Most of the time I am positive now. I got back to my studies and have fun with friends and visit my brother and his girlfriend and always take my brand-new digital camera with me. Still, this life is not quite what it used to be. Or is it? Did the contrast to some months that basically felt like a large vacation make me miss something and now I discard the good life I have here?
Currently I definitely need a lot more reminding of being positive than I used to not long ago! This feels a bit like some days I spent in Germany immediately before leaving for Spain, when I could not wait to get away from it all.

Carrying these thoughts around with me, every now and then I reach the same conclusion: My life is changing rapidly and the next changes are already in sight. I should not be rash now, but patient and calm and grateful for my experience.

I just need to remind myself of that!

May 16, 2008


Hoy es un día para escribir en español! Lo siento para todos que no se enteran, y doy un cordial "¡de nada!" a los que quieren aprender este idioma bonito y lo ven como oportunidad de practicar :) (por cierto: si cometo errores lingüísticos, ortográficos o lo que sea, ¡avisadme!, mi examen del DELE os lo agradecerá...)

Cada vez más me siento cómodo en Alemania! Hace ya veinte días desde que partí de España y estos últimos días he hecho un buen trabajo de colmarme con tareas en la universidad. Ahora ya tengo tres presentaciones de diferentes asignaturas por delante y sigo asistiendo a mis clases de Derecho Constitucional! Los viernes he elegido dos asignaturas para mejorar mi español y no perder los conocimientos adquiridos en Jaén! Las asignaturas se llaman "Español - Comunicación Oral", en la que hablamos mucho de cultura no sólo de España pero también de América Latina, y "Español - Expresión Escrita" para la que tenemos que escribir cada semana un informe o una redacción de 400 palabras que luego corregimos en clase con muchas y buenas explicaciones del profe. Por cierto, el profesor es chileno pero trabajó como traductor y ya vive en Augsburgo desde hace muchos años. Nos sabe explicar todo igual en español o alemán y conoce todas las trampas lingüísticas que hay!

Ya poco a poco voy convirtiendo la tristeza de estar separado de mis amigos en Jaén en energía para atacar de nuevo y sacar créditos en mi universidad aquí. Mis últimos semestres en Augsburgo quiero correr rápido para después cambiar otra vez de sitio y, muy probablemente, de país! Entonces: Ánimo y al ataque :-)

May 06, 2008

Changes in life

I have a cold! It is not a really bad one, but enough to keep me occupied with drinking tea and blowing my nose. Sitting in my room in Augsburg I watch movies and chat with friends and family. This day is to relax and cure myself!

These days I think a lot about how my life is changing. I just came back from a study abroad experience and I cannot but feel that I have changed during this time in Spain. Not just my hair is longer, but I have lived with interesting people in a shared house, learned a new language and, what is more, Spanish culture. What am I saying, I not only learnt about Spanish culture, but Chinese, American and Persian as well, so eventually I gained a different view on Germany.

Coming home is a very strange experience for me! It does not feel so much like home anymore as it did before. It is more like a place that I am intimately familiar with, because I spent my whole life here, but funnily I felt just as at home in Spain.
What makes the difference are the people, especially my family and very few close friends, that make it worthwhile to be here! Besides I have some felt obligations to my longterm career and life plans, that make it necessary to study some more :)

Maybe I am not meant to be at peace in one place for all of my life. The travelmania is in me and won`t leave me alone soon. Already I am planning two more trips this year, one of them to Spain! What that means for my studies? I guess I am doing what is necessary for my life, not for my CV...

April 30, 2008

The universalist

In her bestseller "Refuse to Choose - A revolutionary program for doing everything you love" Barbara Sher writes about people she calls Scanners. Those are people whose problem in life is not that they have no fun or do not know how to spend their time. There is just too much they would love to do and they cannot decide which is the option that keeps them happy forever so they can finally settle down.
I stumbled upon the book in a bookstore and while going through it I found the chapter that was about the "universalist". This particular version of the "picaflor" (as a Spanish friend likes to call Scanners) is the one where you keep changing jobs, positions and lifestyles, collecting qualifications without ever noticing, and never settling down or feeling entirely fulfilled. This is partly what my life is about and I feel the same impatience, the same eagerness to learn new things and continually change my current lifestyle. I felt flattered and calmed down at reading that for this kind of person it is mostly easy in life. For someone with many talents, languages, a gift with people and motivation to learn, there always is work and the journey is the way until one perfect job finally shows all the characteristics of continous and diversion a universalist has been seeking all the time!
So yeah, I will leave a mark in this world, the only thing I need is a little more patience and loving people around me who tell me every once in a while that it's gonna be fine :)

April 28, 2008

I love the world

Making Choices essential! And it is by far one of the hardest things to learn, when you are as open and accepting towards the world as I try to be. Openness brings with it a whole bunch of choices. You constantly get this influx of new and attractive possibilities, get to know new people, find and cherish new dreams. Decisions have to be made, about which dream to pursue, which opportunity to grasp, and in my life, these are not black and white. They are more like green and orange, complementary and equally beautiful, depending on the mood I am in and on the prospects I draw.

Making choices comes with liberty, which is basically a very desireable thing. It can be very sad not to have the possibility to decide and feel the force of circumstances or just good reason compelling you to do a particular (sometimes unwanted) thing. Often it is ourselves that define how free we are and our perception influences our choices. But is it not risky to decide as if you were totally free of obligations and only obliged to yourself? Are you not wagering on an insecure basis if you gamble everything for your dreams? That is what makes me afraid of catching some planes and giving up some connection: insecurity and fear!

Fear is a very important factor when it comes to choose because a decision always is against one option and in favor of another. You lose something and have to take the decision all the way hoping to win something, too. What am I going to win? Will I be able to keep it, or is it just a short-term gain? What will be lost forever?

Writing about it makes it clear how complex it is to reach a good decision. Time always tells though! I need to practice my patience...

A new blog

In an attempt to wear less and less masks in life I have decided to drop one that I felt time ago was important! I do not want to fear the discovery of myself by the world and have no business thinking about the possible abuses of the personal thoughts I write down. So I will provide you with the link to this blog. It has been mine for a long time and I will follow here in its tradition. This blog will use English as primary language, but from time to time I might just switch to German or Spanish. Regard it as a way of expanding your mind just as I regard it as an exercise for my capacity to think in different languages (German being my mother language).
Off we go! I hope you enjoy :-)