1978 in Stockholm, Sweden Here’s a little personal story of 2 photos inspired by the fact that you have clicked on the link meaning that you want to know more about me 🙂
The first one is a pic from the past, in Stockholm 1978 on my first trip abroad. My grandmother recognized Mikis Theodorakis in Gröna Lund - amusement park and forced me to do a photoshoot with him. Only some years later I saw the photo again and checked out who he is.
And then I was very happy Granny dragged me for the posing from whatever naughty things I was up to.
Theodorakis - though I don’t share all his political views - has lived a remarkable and colorful life: an uncompromising journey full of sacrifices according to his values. This photo reminds me of the curiosity and inspiration I was feeling at that young age. To be in the same photo with “a veteran” who by then already had experienced much of the drama and comedy in life … means a lot to me.
2020 in Sintra, Portugal The 2nd pic is from today in my (current) hometown. Here, in Sintra, high on my favorite drug caffeine … inspired because am reaching a point where only a few things in life really matter - realizing that your health and state of mind mainly depends on how you are able to take things.
Grateful that the comedy, drama, adventure, sadness and joy of the last 20 years on the road have brought much meaning and purpose to me - and that it is continuing still every day.
Still can’t believe the times we are living in! Anybody who lived 2000 years ago would have given countries, kingdoms, and treasures to experience the 2020s … and the opportunities we have today.
Finland 1972 I grew up in Tampere, 120 miles northwest of the capital Helsinki. My grandmother claimed that I was always interested in trucks and that I wanted to be a truck driver. At school, I did well in sports and languages, but what I really loved was sports and the great outdoors. And what I really hated most were the stale and stiff mindsets and restrictions usually imposed by adult minded folks. Even today, I can still remember all the people from a young age who have inspired me the most.
Where I lived were a lot of green areas. There I spent all my afternoons and evenings after school exploring the great outdoors with my friends - all year-round. I played ice hockey and other winter sports with the kids in the neighborhood. In Spring I watched the lakes free from ice, sailing on iceblocks. I only got home to eat and sleep - and can’t remember doing homework before I was 12 years old. I was very curious, and the only thing that mattered to me was the excitement and freedom outdoors. I could explore nature with its animals with like minded friends. I don’t think we realized how lucky we were, and how unique our privilege was - until it ended.
Life was free and those years were careless and very, very happy.
Trying to be an adult The free life ended abruptly when we moved away from this exciting area protected by the forests and my life took a turn towards making more homework and succumbing to the realities that were expected from adult life.
I found a new passion for tennis.
Studies, work, and living abroad The next 20 years was about learning realities of life. I was slowly made to believe that books, knowledge, and a career would be essential to living a happy life. I was made to believe that degrees and a hamster wheel, trading time for money would bring security and happiness and the tools for a meaningful life.
I appreciate the Finnish uncomplicated approach to solving problems. Abroad I quickly realized that many things that were simple became complicated abroad.
The gray weather and silence in Finland was for me a great thing when in need of tranquility and rest. But too much of that could also lead to long periods of dullness and inactivity. I also thought those blindly staring at Finland as a model of happiness should look harder; How is it possible that a country credited with such an exemplary model of happiness has such misuse of anti-depressants, drugs, and alcohol?
My reason for leaving from home to the Netherlands was because I found my first job there and because it would offer a new experience after the grinding studies in Helsinki. If I had to work, I might as well experience interesting surroundings and meet people from other cultures at the same time.
When I left, I did not know that my journeys would also take me to other countries in Europe. It wasn’t a plan but something that happened. But maybe it happened because I didn’t have a plan.
After the Netherlands I ventured to the UK, spending nearly 5 years there. And late in 2005, I started my expansion to France, working 10 years there - before landing finally in Portugal. But that is another story for another day - and I will get back to that in another chapter 😉
Why I am sharing my story with you
Thanks to my childhood adventures I know what it means to be free, really free. And to do anything I want, when I want with whom I want.
But I forgot about that, when I grew older into my teenage years - about remaining free. I studied, traveled, got married, had kids, did the 9-5. Conditioned to live as an insider in a society. Adhere to social circles, and obey. Then I came into my senses ...
Life is short - it's ending one minute at a time. Why waste it on fulfilling other people's expectations. We are so hung up on security and material possessions, and pleasing. To what end?
Social norms dictate people's lives. Stuff has become the religion and the idols we worship are Ikea and Starbucks. The more we immerse ourselves in such an empty and unfulfilling existence the more we start to resemble the things that we produce: Manufactured products rather than authentic human beings.
We can create our own meaning. I emphasize the importance of knowing what you want in life - and to achieve this you must pay the price. You have to be willing to get out of the comfort zone and sometimes even jump into the unknown without safety brackets. Otherwise, you cannot remain human. Humanity comes from exposing yourself, from being vulnerable. It can be a tedious exercise
It has taken me a lot of effort to rewire my brain, to rediscover my true self that was destroyed by conditioning of adults, by society, culture. But I am again finding my gifts, passions, and interests.
Passion is a gift You will find that you have passions. And having a passion is a gift. I have passions, you have passions - I think we all have passions but you don't get to choose them. They pick you. But you have to be aware of what you like, you have to be looking out for your passions tirelessly and when you find your passion - it's a fantastic gift for you that you should not only use - but take further. Many people have passions but don’t work on their gifts.
Using passion to take your gifts further directs your purpose.
Career is good but calling is better You can have a job, you can have a career.
Or you have a calling and the best thing is to have a calling. And if you find your passion you'll have that in all your work and then it won't feel like work to you at all.
Don’t forget about your passion Many kids and many grown-ups to figure out in their free time what their passions are, and I think what happens sometimes - I don't think it's that hard to imagine - we let our intellectual selves overrule those passions and we forget about them. And that's what we need to be guarded against.
If we have passion for what we do - it can mean all the difference for how we feel inside and what we consequently attract. The things that come our way depend on how we feel.
Be bold, don't give up in facing uncertainty You still have to work hard despite having a gift. If gifts are given to you, then you can't really be proud of them can you? Because they were given to you without you having to do anything. Taking your gifts to the next level; that can be hard. You can mostly only be proud of the achievements that required hard sweat, and challenges you tackled taking your gifts to the next level. Then you can be proud of all the sacrifices, and choices you made to work hard developing your gift up to the next level.
You know it's incredibly hard to get people to make bold bets; you need to encourage that in yourself - and if you're going to take bold bets there's going to be moments of despair. When you take risks and experiment - you don't know ahead of time if they're going to work. Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure.
Few dare to venture into the unknown, doing experiments; Every entrepreneur knows that a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn't work!
And life is a series of failures, punctuated by the briefest of successes.