March 13, 2021

The stories of my life

I recently read that websites with blogs have 494% more indexed pages. At first I thought "what a ridiculous thing to say". After considering this for a moment or two, I realised that it is not that ridiculous. My past is something that belongs to me, only when I decide to keep it to myself. A series of events in my life have led me to the person who is writing these lines today. I would like to share some of these events with you, to appreciate life and the experiences I was able to make. In this Blog I will post parts of a blog that I originally uploaded to Tumblr during my time in SOuth Africa. Not everything in that blog needs to be shared, so I will take specific events, which I find worth sharing. In addition I will use this page to talk about various other experiences that I made and share realisations and ideas, which have no specific order or connection other than being part of my life. I wish you good fortune in all your doings and hope you may find something worth discovering here. At best you will discover yourself and learn from my life. I would like to thank every one who I met in my life and made these experiences possible. Every lesson is valuable and when we learn from them nothing is without sense.

All pictures were taken by myself and the text is freely written with my own two hands. Please be respectful of my content and do not distribute them as your own work. Thank you very much.

March 29, 2021

The science of being left

Good morning dear reader. It is not my intention to hurt or cause suffering with these words. When you are ready to read these lines, you may be ready to address something inside of yourself. I strongly believe, that everything that happens in our lives, does so that we can grow and get stronger. When you are not strong enough, it might break you. Only, who said that broken things cannot be mended? Love is the glue that can fix anything. You only need to know where to look for the crack that needs to be fixed.

Where to begin? First of all, not with myself. I can say that I do not recall a childhood trauma, where someone dear to me left me. I have lost people through death, but that is a completely different matter. Why? When someone dies it is usually involuntarily. Being left means that for some reason or other a close person makes a decision (based on his/her individual circumstances) to leave someone behind. Now why am I writing about this? Well, let me tell you something personal. A lot of the women that I fell in love with over the years had something in common. I am no therapist (at least not certified), but I can observe and connect the dots. Connecting the dots is a very essential skill that enables us to connect seemingly unrelated events in our lives to each other and learn from them. What did these women have in common? First of all, they were women. Second, most of them had blonde hair. Different shades of blonde, yet blonde they were (mostly). I cannot really say why, but blonde is the colour of hair that I seem to be drawn towards. Well, in a way I can say why. I believe that deep within myself I know what hair-colour my soulmate has and instinctively I am attracted to women with a similar colour of hair. The most striking thing they had in common and the thing which had the most intense effect on the relationship, was - believe it or not - the relationship with their own father. I know this sounds like some kind of Cliché, but I am simply connecting the dots here from my own life experience. Whenever I found myself in a relationship with a woman, where the father had left her, trouble was along the way.

The first two relationships I had were kind of terrible. I was treated badly by the women I was with and it took me some time to get over this. Being treated badly does not always mean you are being abused physically. No. It can be that someone tries to control your every move or blames you for everything bad that happens to them. I do not want to make this article sound like my own sob-story and blame everything that happened in my relationships on the women. I simply want to talk about this, because I feel like it really is an issue for quite some women. Sometimes I never understood why it is necessary to fight? I somehow have the ability to forgive. When someone does something wrong, I forgive. I can learn to love a lot of things in my partner, because they do not really matter. What matters is, whether you love a person or not. The problem arises, when your partner cannot love you back. I use the word 'cannot' on purpose here, because sometimes it is truly the case. What I realised in women that were left by their father, is their inability to truly open up to another man. What does it mean to open up to someone? It means the ability to show yourself with all your feelings and weaknesses. It means that you fully trust the other person. It means that whatever happens you work through it, because you simply love your partner.

On the other side of love stands fear. Where fear grows there is a lack of trust. A little girl that comes into this world wishes to be loved. It wishes to be held and accepted for they way she is. Imagine this beautiful girl and imagine her smile. Now, relationships between parents and children are always intertwined. Mother-daughter, father-son, mother-son and father-daughter. When one of these relationships is somehow not healthy, it can manifest later in life. As children it still seems fine, but the longer we carry these problems with us, the stronger they become. A girl that has been left by her father will have to deal with certain issues that may come up during her life. As this trauma is already there since her childhood, it may be very difficult to solve, because the trauma becomes the person. At one point we believe that we are the trauma, without realising that we actually are traumatised by the events of our childhood. So we keep telling ourselves, that we are okay with being left and abandoned. Only there is a part in ourselves which is never okay with it. It is our inner child.

What I have experienced in one of the Ayahuasca ceremonies I attended is that the traumas we suffer in our early childhood stay with us for the rest of our life, unless we face and heal them. During this experience, I was inside a very dark and black room. I felt like I was grown-up-me walking around. Suddenly I heard some sort of sobbing. A child crying? Before my inner eye I was walking towards the noise and I discovered a child, all alone and very sad. The child was in deep, deep pain and did not want to talk to me. There was such deep despair that I felt like I was about to be dragged into it. Like a vortex of fear and negative energy pulling me into darkness. In this very moment I knew what to do. I spoke to this child, for I knew this child was me - or a part of me. I asked this part of myself why it was crying and little Christopher told me about his pain and why he felt so alone. In the end I 'simply' told little Christopher that I loved him and that everything was going to be alright. I gave him the feeling that I would take care of him from this moment onwards and that he was not alone. In this moment I could feel the dark energy dissolving and this part was no longer suffering, but once more happy and joyful. This was only one of many parts of my inner child that I visited that night. I cannot really tell you how many there were exactly, but my guess is at least 30. Some of these parts did not even experience really traumatising things (from my grown-up perspective), but for them it was hell. It might be a disgusted look someone gives you, or someone who pushed you in the dirt and laughed at you. Children are very sensitive and delicate beings and all they want is to be loved. When someone gives them the feeling that they are not wanted or not good enough, it hurts them so bad that something breaks inside of them. This pain and suffering manifests as a split-up part of yourself with its own personality and needs. Through my experience I have learned to realise when one of these personalities comes to the surface. They are triggered by events which remind them of their pain. Once we learn to see through this we can distance ourselves from the pain and the suffering and begin to heal them.

Something I realised is that these inner children which are trapped inside of us, in a world of fear and pain, also show themselves as children when they come to the surface. Sometimes we act in certain ways and do not understand why. Sometimes we are just so stubborn and we do not really know the reason why. Sometimes we just want to hurt somebody, although this is not who we want to be. All these behaviours can be traced down to our inner child, which is split into many fragments. To heal them and bring them back together is a very important part of the spiritual path and to enlightenment. Until then, this inner child of ours will constantly recreate the situation that made it suffer in the first place. Now imagine a little girl being left by her father. Imagine the kind of pain and suffering this would cause. The feeling of not being good enough. The girl will blame herself and she will be wondering what she did wrong. Why did he leave me? What did I do wrong? Why doesn't he love me? Am I not good enough?

This is the world this part of yourself will be living in from now on. It is basically hell. A world of fear, pain and suffering and whenever you are in a situation where you are faced with this topic, your inner child will resurface and remind you of the pain you suffered. This will never end, unless you work on it. Allow yourself to acknowledge the trauma and truly work on it. As long as you deny yourself this painful experience, you cannot move on. Saying to yourself that it wasn't painful to be left by your father will not help you. Lying to yourself about it will not help you. This needs to be addressed and it needs to be healed, otherwise you will be stuck in this vortex of pain forever. Now to come to the conclusion.

The way I have experienced this is through the women I have been with. Now any woman who will read this and has been in a relationship with me, will surely point her finger at me saying something like "Don't blame this on me". Well I am not. I am helping you to grow. I tried many times in relationships to tell my partner that I am not the issue, but their childhood trauma. I am not a terrible person. I would say I am nice. Of course I have my own package to carry, but that does not make me a terrible person either. I have tried over and over to make women realise, how they treat me. They look for mistakes in me and they find them. In the beginning everything seems fine. Roses and butterflies. From a certain point on they suddenly do not see the beautiful things any more, they start to fish for mistakes. I say 'fish', because it seems like they want to find them. Why else would it be a problem that I forgot to clean away my hair? When you love each other you can surely work this out and do not need to have a discussion every time this happens? This can be minor things that suddenly are such a great issue that the relationship will end. The thing I want to imply here is not that women are terrible. No. Women are nice and lovely. I am also aware that every relationship has two stories, not just one. My message here is that whenever a problem occurs it can be solved. Any relationship has problems. The question is, do you love each other enough to solve them? Or are you going to recreate the trauma?

Any person is able to recreate their trauma, by simply feeding into it. Any woman can behave in a way that will make it so hard to love her that any man will eventually leave. Or the woman decides every time to leave the man. In this way the original trauma is strengthened, because the inner child beliefs deep down that no man can be trusted. Why? Because her own father left her or treated her badly. The little girl inside of you is constantly living in a world of fear. The fear of being left and abandoned once more. The fear of not being good enough. No man can change this believe, unless you open your heart and let him love you. In this way your believe that all men are eventually going to leave you is going to change and your inner child will learn that there are men that will stay with you for the rest of their life and never leave you. Not because they have to, but because they love you and want to do everything in their power to make you happy.

March 27, 2021

Scientific obscurity

Dear reader,
I would like to tell you something about science and why I did not follow this path any further. During my time in South Africa I did science. I collected data and I analysed it. I also wrote a dissertation and earned a masters degree. I visited different projects and learned, how they did science. Through my university I also learned one thing or other about the world of science. My take home message from science can be worded as one or all of the following statements: Science is an industry. Science is a system of stagnant beliefs. Science is dead. Science is mainly truthful. Science is possibly honest. Science is slightly biased. Science is generally correct and most likely a reflection of the truth. Science is wishy washy. Well, these terms could all be used for science. For some science at least. But WAIT! Let me continue first, before you create your opinion. There is more to consider than just the negative side...

At this point I would like to say something in defence of everyone who does honest science. Who simply likes to collect and analyse data and present it in the most honest and respectable way. Who has no interest in the publication of his or her results, other than to spread his or her discoveries. No science can ever be objective, because an observer is always a subject to his own beliefs. There are true scientists out there who have a conscience. Honest, hard working people who simply want to do good research and follow their passion and the believe to change the world with their work. This needed to be said, for I know many people who work like this. On their behalf do I see the necessity to contribute this article. To speak up and to create change. I have witnessed so many good and honest people doing what they love in order to help the animals they observe. There are those people out there. People like Jane Goodall, only not as famous, yet. Now let me continue with the downside of science.

We hear about "scientific evidence" everywhere. When someone wants to make a statement, he puts a reference behind the sentence and suddenly it becomes valid. The problem is that you find this kind of evidence to basically anything. You have money? You have resources? Great! Use science to validate your opinions. You want coffee to have health benefits? Great! Science will help you find them! You feel like the world needs something, but they don't know it yet? Use science to help you sell it. There is a whole industry behind the "scientific community" and it is booming. Yet, it has the same treadmill-character that any other industry on this planet provides. Working standards are miserable. Scientists that love to do field work and truly love their job, are paid little or no salary. They don't mind a simple lifestyle, because they love their work. They spend ours and ours in the field collecting data. After they collect the data they usually need to spend hours typing it into their laptops. Then they spend hours analysing it and organising the results. After they have done that they need to transform their discoveries into words and turn them into a story. True and honest scientists do all of this, because they believe in what they are doing. Sadly, most of the time they do not get paid a single dime. All in the name of science.

What most people do not know is that there is a lot of money in science. I only graduated last year, so you could say I am fresh out of University.

My degree is a Research degree, which means I did not have to write any exams. This was actually one of the most intriguing facts about it. Having earned already a Bachelors degree in environmental protection, I knew that I found exams very stressful. A 'Research Degree' seemed like the perfect solution. Maybe I should have considered the writing up of my Bachelor thesis first, before following that line of thought. I did not really like that either. Things happened as they happened and I did what I did. I am now a certified Master of Science in Wildlife. How did I get there? I studied. I collected data. I analysed said data and I wrote my dissertation. Sounds easy enough right? Now comes the other side of the coin. I certainly struggled to finish my dissertation - I did not really believe in the usefulness of it and how this could help the vervet monkeys at all. Every research always claims to have some benefits. Phrases such as "In order to better understand 'this or that species' it is important to study it more closely and in different environments. This can help in the protection of the species", are very common in behavioural science. You just have to come up with reasons, why this research is important and you can do it. Everyone is happy when you have a reason for the benefit of a whole species. Animals are not always treated nicely in these experiments. In some they are captured. Their blood is withdrawn, they are sedated and relocated. They are measured and weighed. In my opinion it is a violation of their rights as living beings. As they are considered "animals" they are considered less than us humans. So they have no rights. They have the right to be studied, to be eaten and to please us humans. This seems drastic? Kind of harsh, right? Well wake up and take a look in the mirror. Is this leather you are wearing? Is there yoghurt in your fridge? Cheese? Wool in your socks? All of this is provided by animals that nobody cares about. They are exploited by an industry. Why would the scientific industry be any different? They make money with animals, because research is well paid. Only the researcher gets nothing or almost nothing of this. Universities are companies and their product is "knowledge". Students and lecturers work for this institution and create an income by producing scientific content, mostly in the form of journal articles. When you check online for how much one of these articles is sold, you are wondering why the author is not paid for this? It is the university that gets paid fine money, so that they can continue to research and produce an income for the distributors of scientific journals. They create new knowledge every day. They get funded. When you have an interest in something that should be known to the public, you fund it. Someone willing to do research on coffee paid by a well known Coffee brand? Weird right? Don't they have an interest in selling coffee? So that would mean that the researcher is kind of biased. Well, if he isn't biased, then someone else surely will be and tell the story that the money-giver wants to hear.

What is my takeaway message here? My point is not that science itself is bad. My point is, that we live in a capitalistic system and everything which started out good was turned into something that simply produces income. My message is that most of the people that will read this live in an idealistic fantasy, where money shouldn't even exist. Well, it does exist and we better use it in a good way. When you are someone who lives outside of the capitalistic bubble and you want to change the world, then do not say "NO" to money. Say "NO" to exploitation. Say "NO" to treating animals like products. I urge you to start saying "YES" to money. Why? The more people who believe in something good start to produce money, the more money we will have to oppose the system we currently live in. In my recent podcast episode I talked about Nudity at festivals. I talked about a transitional phase, where you get from wearing clothes everywhere, to being nude in open spaces. Why? Simply because we are not ready yet. The same goes for money. Imagine all the money everywhere would suddenly seize to exist? I promise you we would be confronted with absolute chaos! Nobody would know what to do. Right now all the rich people in the world, are people who do not care for the planet. All they want is to get filthy rich and stay that way. They are okay with exploitation. I am not. In order to change the world right now, we need to play by the rules that underlie the current system. The current system runs on money. Start earning money by providing services that only have one thing in mind: the well-being of the planet. When you do that, evil money is turned into good money. Be part of the process and change the way money is used. Do not work for free, just because you are passionate and believe in what you are doing. When you are passionate about your job, then create your own job and get paid!

March 21, 2021

Observation

Dear reader,
thank you for being here right now. This very moment belongs to you. Use it well. Use it to learn and to grow. Let me take you on another journey into realms of experience and perspective, of beauty and novelty. I have learned much in Africa. One thing that I can now pinpoint is my ability to observe.

Before I dive into the topic of why this is a useful skill, let me first tell you something about the way I learned to observe. My job in South Africa was to observe. I studied at the University of the Free State and they have a degree called "M.Sc. in Wildlife". This degree is a research degree, which means that you do 1 year of fieldwork and data collection, followed by roughly 1 year of writing up your dissertation. The dissertation is the only 'official' requirement for this degree. One day I will write a post on why I put this into quotes! My project was about vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus). I was meant to follow a 40 individual troop of those primates and make records on how and what they eat and their general activity. To accomplish this I used binoculars, pen and paper. Every twenty minutes I would take 5 minutes of time to write down the activity of every monkey I could cast my eyes on. In addition, every time I observed an individual while eating, I would note the species and part of the consumed food. I learned to pay attention. I learned to pay attention to little brown object that the monkey put into their mouths from a distance of 20m. I learned to zoom in on what is happening. Not only that. I learned to keep an overview of my surroundings. I learned to get a sense of the whole picture. I only zoomed in during the following 20 minutes, I tried to spot as many vervets as possible, to see figure out what they are doing before the next scan. When did you ever pay such close attention to what's going on? No interfering, just observation. Do give you some visuals on who I was observing, I introduce to you: MY BELOVED VERVETS:

I know you're are not supposed to have favourites, but this vervet really grew on me. At times he came as close as 1m. I named him Bruise Willis, because he was often bullied by the bigger males and was often bruised as a result. I like to believe we appreciated each other. The bigger, stronger males were too afraid to come close to me, so as long as he was near me, he was safe.
A juvenile vervet monkey yawning
Possibly a sub-adult. Do you see his curious and knowing gaze?
Bruise Willis sleeping in a tree
Male vervet monkeys are known for their brightly coloured genitals. Pay attention to the turquoise scrotum and red penis. I find it beautiful. In the background you see females and young ones socialising and grooming.

As there is no need to restirct myself in the size of my images, I am free to post them as big as possible! Good gracious, isn't that great? Joy to the world and to my freedem to create. Thank you.

In addition to what I learned through direct observation I also learned to capture moments with my DSLR camera. I bought it especially for my time in South Africa. I see a lot of people just taking pictures without paying attention. They just take their phone and casually take a picture. Through my camera I learned to see the beauty of life in every corner. I learned to look at unlikely places for a perspective that allowed me to see the beauty. I can find something beautiful in a bathtub. Sometimes it is enough to look from the outside. Landscapes for example are a great way of appreciating the beauty of nature. Large scale. Sometimes you are in a very ugly urban area. How to spot beauty there? You zoom in. The dandelion flower coming through the concrete. Pure creation against all odds. Let me show you what I mean:

Let's take an outside perspective:
Now we zoom in a bit:
Same place, but different aspect:
Easy to miss: the imprint of a leopard in the mudd.
Hidden beauty. A rubber vine that managed to grow in an unlikely place.

When we assume different perspectives, we learn to see the world in various ways. Let me use the following picture as a guide to applying different perspectives in your daily life:

Me sitting in a giant baobab tree.

Derived from the description of this picture, you can already gather one peace of information. The guy in front is me. There is me sitting in a tree, barefoot, relaxed, with arms crossed and a hat. I am looking down to a fellow student and human, of possibly similar age. You can tell that I am high up in a tree. You can also guess, that someone else is taking the picture. The scene we are able to see now is what the hidden observer saw when he captured this scene. So there are three perspectives - at least - which you can imagine right now. If you do not mind I will take you along on a little adventure inside of you head. Please envision each perspective.

  1. Do the easiest one: Imagine you are the person who is taking the picture. For that you need to consider the height. We were about 10m high. Are you sitting or standing, what do you think? Imagine the whole scene. Nice. See its beauty. Take in every detail.
  2. Imagine you are me. Imagine how you are looking at the person standing at the bottom. Be aware of the height and the narrow branch you are sitting on. Pay attention to your bare feet your glasses, your bracelet and your watch. Consider the person taking the picture. I'm sure you can see yourself holding the camera, nesting in the corner of your vision. Feel the warmth of the South African climate. Feel the strength of your legs and the courage of transcending your fears and climbing to this spot. Can you see it?
  3. Now for the person standing on the bottom. Imagine the angle from which he is looking at us up in the tree. Imagine how small we must seem from down there and how high up. He is standing in the sun. Imagine the feeling of the sun on your skin. Imagine the scene of one person taking the picture of someone sitting on a branch.
  4. I think you are beginning to understand what I mean. To every scene there are uncountable perspectives to consider. When you learn to see every situation from different perspectives, you learn the most essential skill to change yourself.

I would like to show you more of my pictures. In each picture try to envision yourself as me. Also try to imagine being someone who is not me and is observing me taking the picture in this moment. You might be a person, a leopard or an antelope, or just the wind...

Me sitting on the water tower, watching the sunset
An ant lion on my palm
Me shooting cans with a slingshot
An Eastern Stripe-Bellied Sand Snake (Psammophis orientalis)
The trail of a giant python that possibly just fed
A ~4m southern african python (Python natalensis) curled up in defence
Me with a Cat Eye mantis/Giant African Stick mantis (Heterochaeta orientalis) on the back of my hand

Before I close this article with the most important part - the conclusion - I have one more thing to mention. When there are so many different perspectives to every situation, then there must be one that allows you to see the beauty. Are you able to see the beauty in the following pictures? Try hard if you struggle. Use my previous advice and imagine yourself as someone that finds whatever you are seeing beautiful. Think of reasons that could pinpoint the beauty.

A jumping spider sitting on a table.
The rotten and stinking corpse of an impala (Aepycerus melampus) - a leopard kill stored in a tree
The corpse of an African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) in a bucket
The half-submerged corpse of a male waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus)
A tiny preying mantis on my headphones
A yellow-legged burrowing scorpion (Opistophthalmus glabrifrons)
Black light makes the difference - the same scorpion, under a different light

Now that you learned how to recognise different perspectives and find beauty in strange and dead things, what do you do with this ability? Well I can tell you what I do with it. Meditation teaches you one thing. To sit still. Yes, also. It mainly teaches you to observe what is happening. As you sit still with your eyes closed you do not engage in anything that is going on. You do not judge and you do not actively think. When there are words or sentences forming in your mind, you simply see them as things that are happening. Just words. The train-of-thought is passing you by, but you do not get on board. You are simply someone watching the train go by in the distance.
When you learn to observe and to take different perspectives, you can begin to apply them to yourself. Imagine you are in a tight spot or you are facing a difficult situation. You don't know what to do. Imagine your situation from various perspectives. How would your friends solve this problem? Would this even be a problem from a different angle? By learning to do this our life becomes much easier. Maybe we don't like ourselves when we look into the mirror. Imagine how your parents would see you, or your partner. How would someone see you that truly loves you? Don't you think he would like what he sees? There is beauty in everything. There is beauty in yourself. Learn to see it inside of you, by learning first to see it in the outside world. Learn to step out of yourself and see things as they truly are. Learn to take better pictures yourself, by training this. Observe the world that surrounds you and look for the beauty.

March 15, 2021

Reptiles

There is one class of animals out there which for some reason I really enjoy. I cannot tell you exactly why, but I simply love reptiles. They are often named as stupid animals, that only work on reflex. I believe they are exactly not stupid. They are one of the most intelligent animals that I have come to witness. When a snake wants to bite you, it will. When a crocodile wants to eat you, it will. It almost seems like there is no hesitation. They make a decision and act on it. When you hesitate you might be dead. When you look into the topic of Zen more deeply you will come across phrases such as:"When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep." What does this tell you? As you learn to recognise your own needs, you will be able to act on them. Zen is a Japanese art of spontaneity. Being spontaneous means that you act on an urge that is so strong you cannot ignore it any more. When you know for certain you are hungry, you eat. You do not prepare to eat, but when the right time is there you simply do. That is what reptiles do. They have an urge and they act on it. There are no half-baked attempts to pursue a victim or go for the kill. When a snake wants to eat it will do everything in its power to accomplish that. It doesn't mean they will always succeed, but they will certainly try their hardest. This is my introduction to reptiles. Now I would like to share some stories with you, about my experiences with reptiles:

While I was staying in South Africa, I lived on a small game ranch, called the Mogalakwena River Reserve. It was located up in the Limpopo Province, which is very close to the border of Botswana. As this place was full of wild animals, such as giraffes, different types of antelopes, leopards, ostriches and all different kinds of insects and reptiles, I often took my DSLR camera for walks to take pictures. This one time I went for a walk along the river and very close to the lodge I spotted a Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus). They are giant lizards, which can grow slightly above 2 m. Their tail is made for swimming and very strong. I was often told, that they can break your bones easily when you get too close. Normally they are very shy and as soon as they spot you, they make a run for the water to dive. Well this specimen was perhaps a little more used to humans, as he lived closer to the lodge. As soon as I saw him or her I crouched down to my knees readied my camera and started walking towards (let's call it a him) him. Ever so often I started to take a lot of pictures, because as soon as I got some centimetres closer, I got so excited that I made it this far without chasing him off, that I took even more pictures. In the end I managed to get as close as the picture you see, round about 2 m I would guess, as the zoom lens I was using at the time has a minimum distance of 1.5 m. This moment was very special, because I felt a deep connection to this animal. Although I did not touch him, he allowed me to come this close. He accepted me and showed no signs of fear and neither did I. Thank you for this special moment.

There is another very special encounter I had with a reptile, this time a Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). Well actually there were two incidents, which I memorise very clearly. The first one happened at the bridge, which you can see in this picture (To give you an idea how big the crocodile is, the bridge was made for cars to drive over and you could drive over it very comfortably with a jeep.):

Somehow I like to think that this crocodile was a female. I am not quite sure why I think this, but it is what my feeling is telling me. If I remember correctly, we were coming back from a walk and there it was. A giant of a crocodile, roughly 4 metres long. I had my camera with me and as everyone took their binoculars and camera to have a better look and take pictures, I started to get closer. Somehow I have a natural ability to tell how close I can get to animals, so that they won't bite. It is essential to be very calm and not be afraid. I did not want to hurt her, I simply wanted to have a nice picture. As you can see on the right side of the picture there is an edge. My intuition told me, that if I would come from that side I would be safe from an attack, because the crocodile would not come for me without having a direct shot. So I got closer and closer and when I was as close as 3-5 metres I took this picture:

Nice shot right? What did I learn from this situation? Today I released an episode called "Friends" and I talked also about trust. As I was getting closer to the crocodile, the other people were at a safe distance, being worried. Later one of these students told me that I did not know what I was doing with reptiles. The truth was that I knew exactly what I was doing in these moments, only some people trusted me and others did not. If the student that criticised me would have wanted to learn from me, she could have asked me how I did that or if I was not afraid. Instead she told me that what I did was wrong. In my opinion she is not a friend that I want to invest a lot of time into, because she is holding me back. She does not trust my intuition and my abilities. She points with her finger at me and says that I am acting irresponsible. Only I was responsible for myself. I knew how far I wanted to go and I knew when it was time to retreat and I did exactly that. I am glad it happened the way it did, because today I can write about it and share this experience. Trust yourself and do not let others hold you back.

The second incident took place while I was doing some fieldwork. At the time I needed to measure the vegetation for my vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) project. To give you a tiny bit of background about what I was actually doing in South Africa I will tell you at least this much at this point. I spent roughly two years in South Africa to obtain a Masters of Science degree in Wildlife. It is a research degree and what you need to do is find a project and collect data for about one year. You then analyse this data and write a dissertation on the topic. My Topic was "Feeding ecology, habitat use and activity patterns of the vervet monkey, Chlorocebus pygerythrus". So in order to know what was available for the vervets, I needed to assess the habitat. For that I assigned randomly calculated plots in the vervets home range and counted every species of tree and shrub which was available. One of these plots was directly next to the river and about 200 metres away from the lodge. I wasn't doing the habitat assessment alone, but with one of the students who wanted to learn more about plants and the vegetation. While we were still at the lodge we saw a giant crocodile floating around in the river, but didn't think much of it, since it was not moving very much. As you can see in the following two pictures, crocodiles can be very stealthy. One moment they are in plain sight and the next moment they are gone:

As we arrived at the plot I wanted to get a better overview of the situation. There was a gap of about 3 metres where the vegetation had been cut away and you could walk directly to the rivers edge. At that time of year water levels were quite high and the water was on the same level as the ground where I was standing on. I only remained standing there for about 2-3 seconds and walked away. As I turned my back to the water and walked towards the other student she said something to me:
"Ehm, Chris?", she asked.
"Yes?", I replied.
"At the spot where you were standing a crocodile just came up."
I turned around and there it was. Exactly at the spot where I was standing a couple of seconds ago, there was a giant crocodile making some sort of snapping movements with its mouth in the mud. I might have mentioned in my podcast that Africa changed me quite a lot. This moment was life changing for me. It was the first time of my life that I came this close to death. I often wondered what would have happened when I would have stayed only one second longer on this spot? I often said that I would like to have a time machine and the ability to freeze time. I would go back to this moment and just keep standing there to see what happens. Only I could freeze time if I was about to get ripped to shreds by that crocodile. The funny thing is, it did not really scare me. It excited me. This situation was quite thrilling and a very intense experience. I also feel like I wasn't alone in this moment. I know in my heart, that I needed to learn this lesson and that one of my angels was watching over me, to help me leave at exactly the right moment. This is why I urge you to train your intuition. Listen to your heart and you will not be eaten by a crocodile.

March 10, 2021

Captured memories

To introduce this Blog I would first like to talk about memories. What are memories? Are they something that simply happened and is now over? Something from days past, soon to be forgotten? One thing I realised during my life is that everything that happens is important. Every breath you take and every smile. Every tear and every discussion shape the way that each of us sees the world. Your memories are what reminds you of your experiences. Experiences are lessons of life that nobody can take away from you. Even if you think something is long forgotten it will remain inside your heart forever. Very often we are stuck in the past, because we feel like we made a mistake or someone hurt us or did us wrong. The truth is that there are no mistakes, there are only lessons. Whatever happens, happens. When we feel guilty for something we did, we are trapped in this moment forever. The solution to freeing ourselves from the past is to acknowledge what happened and look at it from an outside perspective. What do I mean with this? When I am angry and I shout at someone who has nothing to do with this, I hurt his feelings. When I look at the situation from my own perspective, I only see my pain. I will see my anger and I will see the guilt for hurting someone else. My emotions cannot dissipate, because I believe that there is no other way. I am angry and I am guilty. Let me introduce you to another way of dealing with this vicious cycle:

Who are we truly? Are we what we did or what we will do in the future? I say to you that we are neither. We are the decisions we make in every single moment. Often people are talking about free will. Often when I am sad I forget the feeling of happiness and I curse the world for my situation. I rage and I swear and often I am angry at god or my destiny. In these moments I forget that it is my decisions that led me to exactly this point. It is not god that made me shout at someone, it was me. Every situation is a collection of events that are based on our own decisions. As long as we keep making the same decisions, we might not see the hidden message or the room to grow. Someone who always finds himself in a terrible relationship, may not realise that it is his/ her decision to be in a relationship in the first place. So instead of continuously deciding to jump from one partner to the next, we could step back from the situation and give ourselves the advice that we would normally give to others. When we start to listen to our inner voice, we are not depending on the opinion of others any more. Instead we will be the creators of our life. We will make every decision very consciously and see the lesson that every experience offers. Memories are remnants of past decisions, nothing more and nothing less. They are the truth of a time which is now in the past. Looking back we should see what truly happened and not look at our pain or suffering. Seeing a situation for what it truly is grants you the ability to free yourself of suffering. Imagine your life as a collection of pictures. Each picture represents a memory, which is essentially an experience, which is something we can learn from. How many memories have you captured so far and what are the lessons? Next time you feel sad about something that happened, or guilty, or angry, remember these words. Try to see the lesson and learn from it. Maybe next time you will decide differently and smile to yourself, for then you truly know that you have changed. You know you have grown.