Dreams of Past and Future

I dream a lot at night, and I quite enjoy it. I recently realised that I also dream a lot during the day.
Imagine you can cut down the present moment to an infinitely small instant.  The quantum of a Nano second. Not „now“, it’s already over. „Now now“, as they say here in Africa. With a blink of your eye, a million „nows“ have already passed.
We can assume that this „Now“ really exists. Let’s take that as a working hypothesis. Otherwise everything would be a dream.
I am sure I am not the only one: While dreaming, I have no doubt that it’s real. My brain is sending me all the signals of the woman I always wanted to meet or the boss I never wanted to meet. When I wake up, sometimes I am happy that elephant-sized mosquito did not bite me; sometimes I wish I had been that smart, rich, and beautiful guy. My brain realistically produced both things during sleep.
We acknowledge easily that a night dream is a brain fiction. We talk about it openly. Can you imagine? Last night I dreamed I was flying.
But the brain does also a good job in creating daydreams. We dream about all those times, an infinite sequence of quanta of nanoseconds. These moments are not the present. They are either in what we call the “past” or the “future”. 

The “past” of our ever-so-important self-centred story is made of so-called “memories”, which are nothing else than what our brain keeps accessible in the present of our emotions of the past. The brain is just like a network server. I am currently installing one. It does its job, more or less. It keeps what I think is worth keeping.
Folder 1: “Health”. Sub-folders: “Bad health”, “Good health”, “Trash folder”.
Folder 2: “Career”. Sub-folders: “Success”,  “Failure”, “Pension fund”.
Folder 3: “Relationships”. Sub-folders: “Success”, “Failure”, “It was complicated”, “The best sex I ever had”.
Folder 4: “Friends”. Sub-folders: “Best friends”, “good friends”, “loose friends”, “assholes”. A similar folder for “family” has recently been automatically merged because it contains the same sub-folders.
Folder 5: “Money”. Sub-folders: “When I had none”, “When I had some”, “The day I will have a lot” (the latter is also accessible from the Server “Future”.)
Folder 6: “Values”. Sub-folders: “Religion”, “New Age”, “Politics”, “Humanism”,  “Why I am really better than others” (often read error No. –X50.394832.IM)
Folder 7: “Trips”. Sub-folders: “The good ones”, “The bad ones”, “Trips that were only espensive”.
Many other folders and sub-folders fit on what is still the most powerful server on Earth, the human brain. Based on what folders we had unconsciously told the Server to create and what algorithm we instructed it to use, the server is constantly feeding the dream of our past story.  Me, for example, I recently “thought” about “That was the best job I ever had” and “The worst investment I ever made”, and about the “Idiot who knew nothing and insulted me”. It had nothing to do with reality, but all to do with the dream of my past story created by my Server-brain.
Just like for the past, the Server-brain does the same powerful job for the future. Folders and sub-folders exist such as “The 101 thing I want to do before I die”; “my perfect wife”, “What I will do with one million US Dollars”, “What I need to be happy”. While my dream story of the past is stored and processed, the dream story of my future is already in the making. I had a bad relationship in the past; therefore I will do this and this to have a better relationship in the future.
I don’t know if you have a computer server or a large hard disk. I do have both because I am an IT freak. I find that I have a lot of not very useful information on it. I don’t blame the computer because I unknowingly told it to do what it is doing, and I am unconsciously using the information it is providing me. To be honest, I was not quite sure what it is storing and providing, sometimes multiple times, but had I read the user’s manual, I would have known.
There is no user-manual for the Server-brain. What I learned empirically is that as powerful and maybe oversized the human brain-server is, it is not Me. It is a just a tool that me, my real Self, can use like other tools. Unfortunately, the brain-server is confronted with tens of thousands of individual impressions every day, ranging from a bad feeling to a picture on an advert. It’s an awful lot of information to summarize to the client.
The Server-brain is immediately feeding the Ego, the story of my Life, past and future. “I was a victim”, “I will be a hero”, “I am driving a bicycle not a Mercedes”: I am or do something that other’s don’t. There is some eternal justice feeling in the brain-fed Ego.
Here is the point.
It’s a dream.
The past, and the future. It’s fed by our brain-server, that we configured ourselves.
It is not recommended to switch off a server, because it is always synchronizing and transmitting. As for the brain-server, it is also not recommended, because our heart would stop beating. 
But it is possible to go into the settings and stop being considering for real what is a dream.
I’ve got a thousand legally purchased movies on my Mac server. Sometimes when I watch a movie, just like in a dream, I confuse it with reality. That’s generally a good movie, because it creates a realistic dream.
But contrary of the dream of past and future stories of my life, I try to recognize it sooner or later as a dream.
It is possible to be in the Now and be Self, and recognize those Ego-stories of past and future, acknowledge for what they really are: Dreams.
It’s not a problem at all to have dreams. It’s just important to know when you dream.

I believe the key to happiness is to be able to do the same with our Server-brain: Recognize that it supplies Ego with dreams. We can wake up from those permanent day dreams just like we can wake up from night-dreams.
The only moment when you don’t dream is in the Now.
Now, in the present moment, in the quantum of a nano-second, what is really your problem? You are mourning about the loss of your mother; you are angry with your boss. But is it really a problem now? Now now? If you have toothache, you have to do something about it immediately. Go to the dentist. Just do it, as Nike says. Don’t make a story about it..
Because if you make a story out of it, it is likely to be one of those wrong dreams.

Haiti: Wunder dauern länger als drei Jahre

Haiti: Wunder dauern länger als drei Jahre
Anlässlich des dritten Jahrestages des verheerenden Erdbebens in Haiti vom 12. Januar 2010 wurde heftige Kritik an internationalen Hilfsorganisationen laut. Zu wenig, zu langsam und an der haitianischen Regierung vorbei sei Hilfe geleistet worden. Die Kritik konzentriert sich auf NGOs (Nichtregierungsorganisationen), aber klammert die Rolle der haitianischen Regierung und Verwaltung völlig aus.
 

Ebenso vergessen viele, dass Haiti schon vor dem Erdbeben das ärmste Land der westlichen Hemisphäre war. Am 12. Januar 2010 lebten 80% der Menschen mit weniger als zwei US-Dollar pro Tag. Die Bevölkerung litt auch an einer Quasi-Absenz eines Staates: Das Erziehungs- und Gesundheitswesen war fast ganz privatisiert; selbst die Grundernährung war ohne ausländische Hilfe nicht sichergestellt. In den 50 Jahren vor dem Erdbeben erhielt Haiti mehr Entwicklungshilfe pro Einwohner als die Europäer unter dem Marshallplan.

Zunächst lebensrettende Nothilfe
Extreme Armut, schwache Institutionen, Korruption, und dann oben-drauf dieses apokalyptische Erdbeben, das 230 000 Menschen tötete, 300 000 verwundete, und 1,5 Millionen aus ihren Häusern vertrieb. Die Zerstörung des Präsidentenpalastes sowie von fast allen Ministerien, Tod und Obdachlosigkeit von Verwaltungsangestellten schwächten den Staat zusätzlich. Nicht einmal eine Immigration gab es mehr, als ich mit einem humanitären Flug in Port-au-Prince landete. 

Unter diesen Umständen übernahmen ausländische Organisationen die lebensrettende Nothilfe. Sie taten dies in Konsultation mit dem, was von staatlichen Institutionen noch übrig war, und selbstverständlich aufgrund der Bedürfnisse, wie sie von den betroffenen Haitianerinnen und Haitianern ausgedrückt worden waren. Zehntausende haitianische Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter arbeiteten für diese NGOs. 
 

Irreführende Kritik
Hier setzt die irreführende Kritik an: Eine «Republik der NGOsei aufgebaut worden. Die Realität sah anders aus: Obwohl die Behörden ihr bestes taten, behinderten sie in der Anfangsphase manchmal auch Hilfsmassnahmen (z. B. wurden Fahrzeuge wegen nicht- haitianischer Immatrikulierung beschlagnahmt; das zuständige Amt war aber nicht mehr funktionsfähig). Nach den Wahlen 2010 hat sich der Staat selbst noch zusätzlich gelähmt, als sich Präsident und Parlament während fünf Monaten nicht auf einen Premierminister einigen konnten. Dies hat zum Beispiel den Abschluss neuer Kooperationsverträge verunmöglicht. 

Trotzdem kam die unter widrigste Umständen organisierte Nothilfe an. Von den zehn Millionen Kubikmetern Trümmern ist heute fast nichts mehr übrig, und die Räumung war schneller als nach 9/11 in New York. Mehr als drei Millionen Kinder wurden geimpft. Die Wasserversorgung ist heute vermutlich besser als vor dem Erdbeben, und die befürchtete Hungersnot blieb aus.

Heute leben noch 350 000 Menschen in Zeltlagern. Das sind zu viele. Es sind jedoch 1,25 Millionen Menschen weniger als vor drei Jahren, für die eine bessere Lösung gefunden werden konnte. Das grösste Problem war dabei immer, dass die Regierung den politischen Willen nicht hatte, Land von einflussreichen privaten Grosseigentümern im Notrecht zu konfiszieren und den Vertriebenen zur Verfügung zu stellen.

Gewählte Behörden in der Pflicht
Wenn es nicht mehr Fortschritte gibt, so liegt es weniger an irgendwelchen neokolonialistischen internationalen Organisationen, sondern an fehlenden Landtiteln, einer fehlenden Umsiedlungspolitik und einer fehlenden Agrarreform. Dies sind Themen für Regierung und Parlament. Denn wir NGOs wollen eben nicht, wie uns vorgeworfen wurde, die gewählten Behörden ersetzen. 

Die langfristige Entwicklungszusammenarbeit hat wieder eingesetzt. Es gibt hoffnungsvolle Anzeichen für eine verbesserte Partnerschaft mit der Regierung. Die Situation beginnt sich langsam wieder an jene vor dem Erdbeben anzugleichen. Eine beeindruckende Leistung in drei Jahren, denn Wunder dauern in Haiti einfach länger.

Working on a new website

I am working on my website www.stoessel.ch – this blog will still be visible but at the moment my web host inethosting.ch has advised to rather leave my blog where it is. Quite a weak answer considering that blogger.com is free, and inethosting isn’t. I am quite surprised that web design hasn’t become as much easier as I thought in the last 10+ years.

I am using Sandvox for the web page and MarsEdit for the blog.

If you are kind enough to give me real-time feedback on www.stoessel.ch, please do so.

I broke my bones in Africa

I haven’t written anything meaningful in months.

This blog was initially meant for friends, who would rather choose to read a blog than get these nasty mass Emails I used to send from 2001 onwards. In the meantime, more than just friends are reading this.

On 24 March 2012, I had a very bad accident while I was in Africa. I fell into a deep hole and broke my shoulder and made my right ankle into a ruin. What followed: Alerting people with my (thankfully working) iPhone, a provincial hospital, night evacuation to a bigger hospital in the Capital, a first surgery to conserve the blood channels and nerves (to save the foot from amputation), then evacuation with an air ambulance to Bern, Switzerland. The next 3+ months I was in Hospital and rehabilitation, undergoing nine surgeries and countless hours of physical rehabilitation.

Having the whole right side of my body broken and largely immobilized, I experienced what it was like to be completely dependent for the most daily of tasks (such as cutting your food, to mention a harmless one) on other people. And this is me, someone busy travelling around the world without telling more than one or two people about it.

I was shattered.

I also experienced hope and hopelessness. My shoulder healed after two months or so, and I was totally amazed by being able to use my hand again. But my foot caused problems ever since. The time seemed eternal. From being a vegetable on a bed for a month; to being in an electrical wheel chair for another month; to being on American cruthes for another 1.5 months; to slowly limping around the Swiss landscape; literally one step at a time.

Four months after the accident, I was indeed limping again. Six months after the accident, I was declared fit for the work that I love – humanitarian and development work abroad.

A strange sudden turn of destiny made that I was on stand-by waiting for my visa for a month, and all of the sudden – within a week – what seemed to heal so slowly but surely, started to give me unacceptable pain again. Doctor’s visit, another surgery within days, and – eventually – cancellation of the mission I was looking so much forward to.

I was now totally shattered.

It was like I had in front of me a plate with the best food in the world – prepared by many people. I was ready do dig in. The doctor said: Go ahead, you are fine again. And then, the plate is taken away just before I could get the first bite. I was set back.

Presently, I am still walking on crutches, and I may have to do one or two more surgeries.

Sometimes, when I am thinking about the good old times of past travels and missions, and when I think about future travels and missions, I am thinking: No condition is permanent, as they say in West Africa.

I will walk again, because I am a damn stupborn guy.

And to keep perspective: Everything will disappear one day. Tout disparaîtra!

Listen to Sophie Hunger with her incredible unbeatable interpretation of Le vent l’emportera. The wind will take it away.