By Mathias Maurer, January 2016

Little Flo sits on the floor in the kitchen and is puzzling around with a bag of salted sticks, completely oblivious to everything around him, until he manages to tear it open.

Fascinated, he flicks one stick after the other around him, has a chew on one, tries to put them back in the bag, discovers the cracking sound they make when they break ... he devotes himself to this “booty” with the greatest attentiveness and intensity – the world around him disappears.

Julie wants dancing lessons. The school leavers’ ball is not far off. The bathroom has been occupied for several hours, intensively she devotes herself to her outfit, at last totters down the stairs, takes a final selfie to make sure her makeup is right. She is completely out there with her community. She is immersed in the world.

Alex, having graduated from school, is flying to Phuket. He sends a message on WhatsApp: “Meditation is sexy. I’m a digital zen nomad.” The picture shows him with a shaven head and tan, sitting on a Thai beach in a Yoga position doing zazen, immersed in his inner world.

Mrs Smith has burnout. She has the feeling that she can no longer keep up with the outer and inner demands. Colleagues and the school physician advise her to slow down, focus on the essentials, reduce her activism. The exceptional state must not become the norm. Contemplation is the magic word. But that can be obtained neither in the fitness studio nor in private. She finds a path of small steps: everything she does, no matter what, is done consciously, observantly, attentively, with undivided attention, thoroughly and perhaps slightly slower than before. In this way the world increasingly becomes her world and her world becomes the world.

I meet him at the harbour of Mytilini on Lesbos. He is sitting on a stone, looking over the sea into the distance. I assume he is a fisherman and ask him about last night’s catch. “Catch?” he answers and points to his empty fishing boat. It contains just a few water bottles and blankets. “Yesterday there were twelve.” He lifts the binoculars. In the distance, almost over the horizon, a faint light is visible. The man goes to his boat, releases the lines and starts the motor.


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