Dienstag, 8. April 2014

Barefoot happiness - "Barfuß glücklich"

This was the title of a blog entry by Tobi Katze, done for a blog called "dasgegenteilvontraurig" - "theoppositeofsad", which he publishes as part of the German boulevard magazine Stern web site. The special quality of this blog is that Tobi Katze, who works as an author and satirist/comedian as well as a lecturer and workshop leader on the subjects of film and creative writing, suffers from depression and shares his thoughts with us from that perspective.

A Facebook friend of mine shared his posting from April 2 on my timeline, since it was centered around something I do for general wellness (and happiness) reasons: walking barefoot. And, it seems, it has the same effect on a person suffering from depression - it's making him happy.

Here's my translation of the original German text:

"If I could learn one thing from my depression, it was (Attention! Apparent paradox!) being happy!

Obviously, we can unlearn and forget that. It wasn't all that clear to me, but it works. Actually, it works quite well - if someone spends a life in the wake of a nice and snug mix of lethargy and diffuse self-contempt, just like I did.

Before therapy and medication truly kicked in, I lived as if switched to auto-pilot. Everyday life can be dealt with just fine, when you mechanize it. I avoid calling it "structurized", for it was quite often the opposite. A mechanical life was something safe and sound for me: following the same paths every day, the same procedures every day, appearing stable, no deviation, serving my function. It wasn't really easier to endure my depression that way, but it seemed that it had molded my life to that particular riverbed. My life ran the course of a pre-fabricated way of least resistance. This is not about ideals or similarly complex concepts of thought - it's simply about an unhealthy tendency to finding the most practical solution, which requires no real effort.

"Look, these bedclothes are non-iron!"
"Yeah... but they're ugly!"
"Right... they're ugly... but they're non-iron... practical, isn't it?"

Something like that... but something entirely different, as well. Depression occurs, when you stop asking yourself and discussing what makes you happy. If there is something that makes you happy loses its value as an argument... not all of a sudden, but it sneaks up on you, gradually. And bit by bit, doing the things that made me happy, seemed increasingly tedious to do... or even worse: I simply forgot doing them. I don't really know how it can be described. Perhaps like how I imagine amnesia to be: after serving twenty years in the French Foreign Legion, you suddenly run into your wife from days long past and you suddenly realize "Right! I'm married, she's my wife and I'm really a tax accountant... how could I forget that?"

And something like this happened to me today: I went shopping - barefoot. And there it was again: my bare feet touching the concrete, full contact with life, feeling every single bump, being totally on the ground of things. All of that felt alive. Dynamic.

I had forgotten how that feels - for we don shoes, for practical reasons, out there.

I had simply suppressed the fact, that I draw almost orgiastic joy from mastering my everyday life without footwear. Just like the fact - and now it's getting crazy - that I like wearing extremely bouncy sneakers when I'm at home, working at the computer. All of this provides me with a feeling of vitality and joy - or, in short: happiness. And I was so stupid to erase that from my consciousness, to cease doing it, because it took effort to do so. Like having good food does...

"Gently simmered salmon, with rosemary potatoes and a pinch of cilantro, together with broccoli, laced with lemon butter...? Or I just make some noodles... without anything."

Or take coffee, for instance. I like having my coffee in bed - that's nice, as well as practical. At least, it is to my taste. But sitting in the living room, in one particular armchair, bare feet propped up on the table, lit by the sun, and listening to the "Happy Hour" by the Housemartins at high volume, as if there were no tomorrow, that's beyond "nice"... that's happiness! If such a ritual requires effort, though, I still have a hard time doing it on a regular basis. We do many of these things making us happy quite automatically, and even take detours or make effort to do them. My depression kept me from doing so. And I'm afraid, I'm not alone with that. Ande that might be the most perfidious detail about depression: the loss of quality of life, since quality of life always requires effort - no matter how little. At first, I simply felt tired. Then I didn't know if the effort was worth it. Then I forgot. And after a while I simply wondered, why I felt so down and out.

And only by coincidence, I'm rediscovering things that used to pump happiness into my heart. I underestimated for a long time... I mean, come on... walking barefoot? That can't be important if you're happy with your life, can it? Those small things? Apparently, it can!"

Samstag, 5. April 2014

"I want to talk about being naked..."

This is what a status update by my dear Facebook friend Billa Kgari read... she lives in a wonderful place, which is ideal for having a close and loving relatonship to Mama Nature and to connect with wonderful people feeling likewise.

She went on:

"Recently we had the #inthenameofthemother #worldwaterceremony when the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers requested women all over beautiful Mother Earth pray and sing for our water..

We did! At beautiful Broken Head and the most glorious part of our ceremony was all the women babies mothers sisters and grandmothers diving #naked into the ocean with joy and celebration for life and freedom!

It was the most beautiful site to see!
The complete absence of any shame replaced by Joy and total freedom.

Personally, I follow a very native path in living very close to the mother and I require time without clothes daily or I actually feel ill. I need the air on my skin , the sun on my skin, and pure water on my skin and roaming my blood. These are our birthrights, clearly outlined in the ancient essene gospel of Peace in regards to living in harmony with the four elements.

When we are in real life harmony with the four elements , the fifth - Spirit - is available.. We can't just sit around affirming Mother Earth or the elements, it's time to live it, daily.
The sacred life is right there in the sun, the water, the air, the soil.

How is our relationship to them?
They are our ancestors, loving us daily."

In reply to that wonderful posting of hers, I wrote the following:

Nudity as a spitirual practice is what I call "Nuddhism".

Clothing and shoes, in my opinion, have only two functions: first, they serve a practical purpose as tools to protect us from cold and hostile environments. In that respect, they're practical and sometimes necessary. In frosty weather or when walking grounds that might hurt the bare feet, we need that protection. Second, they serve a social function. And this is the unnecessary function, in my opinion. Clothes and shoes are used in a social sense to mark class difference (the more expensive, the "better" the social standing) or to cover up "indecent" body parts. And yes, there are people out there, believing that even bare feet are "indecent". Sentiments of so-called "indecency", "sin" or "shame" wouldn't be there, if we all learned to be as nude as we were born.

And what better way is there to truly be one with Mama Nature than being as naked as natural as She is? She doesn't wear clothes, either., so I feel that the best way to thank Her for my being is to walk barefoot, touching Her skin gently rather than tramping on Her with boots on. The best way to express my love for Her is to lie down in the grass or hug trees naked, making full skin-to-skin contact.

While most "civilized" people will automatically connect nudity with sexuality, spiritual nudity transcends that. There is a common denominator, which is love. Ideally, human beings having sex do it for love reasons, joining bodies as the natural (and very wonderful!) part of completing their bond of heart, spirit and body. In that respect, being nude in and with our Great Mama, The Goddess. Mother Earth. Mother Nature. is also a means to complete that bond of love to Her by means of heart, spirit and body.

Therefore, "civilization" needs to unlearn those sentiments of "indecency", "sin" and "shame" and embrace the sheer naturality of nudity in its many beautiful colors and flavors. A naked human being is merely a natural, happy, loving human being. Period.
Have a blessed time - naturally happy, loving and barefoot all over.

Donnerstag, 23. Januar 2014

So, now I am a barefoot nazi? WTF?

Barefoot Nazis? - No, these are the footprints of Goddess Lakshmi, together with the traditional Indian symbol of good fortune.

Now, who might have said that? Funnily, this comes from someone also walking barefoot... but he does it for a cause, he says. Richard Hudgins from Louisville, Kentucky, has decided to forego wearing shoes for a year in order to raise awareness as well as money to provide shoes for poor children in need.

"For 365 days I'm going to wear no shoes to collecting new shoes and raising money to buy shoes for Children who have never had the luxury of owning a pair.", he claims on his fundraising web site as well as on Facebook.

So, here's yet another charity aimed at giving shoes to the poor... and while it has been pointed out at length, why such campaigns (such as TOMs or Soles4Souls) are detrimental, this man doesn't understand. He rather prefers insulting people who point out the bad sides of such charities, especially the barefooters, who know that the solution to poverty and the living conditions of the poor isn't buying them shoes:

Hudgins is taking a different approach than other shoe charities, since he plans to buy shoes for children in the target region, rather than shipping shoes there. At least, he would thus support the local manufacturers. But this is the only positive aspect of his charity plans. People who have lived a barefoot life from early childhood on have naturally sturdy feet which can withstand a lot of things we so-called "civilized" people with our pampered and habitually shod feet can hardly imagine. The surfaces he highlighted in his Facebook post by ways of written yelling (all caps) are hardly a problem to walk on in naturally developed bare feet. And people who are used to walking barefoot will have developed an awareness for possible dangers and hazards to their toes and soles.

There are possible health hazards from walking barefoot near open sewage (hookworms and other parasites), but these aren't alleviated by sending shoes to the people. The greater need is for those people to have access to clean drinking water and supply them with a better sewage and waste management. Instead of giving an example of yet another poor aid project, he should concentrate on the real needs of the poor.

More example of poor aid, especially where shoe donations are concerned, can be found in this blog post:


So, if Mr. Hudgins thinks that barefooters who know a bit about what feet can do and why shoe aid fads are bad are "barefoot nazis", I shall take pride in ironically adopting that title and say: Yes, indeed, I am a barefoot nazi! Feet Heil!

That's also how I concluded my comment on his Facebook posting - I also congratulated on his score of two Godwin Points *)...

Another pair of Lakshmi's footprints

Perhaps Mr. Hudgins needs a bit more education on what nazis truly were and are about...

*) "Godwin Points" refers to Godwin's law, of course:

Godwin's law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies) is an assertion made by Mike Godwin in 1990 that has become an Internet adage. It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." In other words, Godwin said that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis.
Although in one of its early forms Godwin's law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions, the law is now often applied to any threaded online discussion, such as forums, chat rooms and blog comment threads, and has been invoked for the inappropriate use of Nazi analogies in articles or speeches.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Montag, 23. Dezember 2013

Is there an award for this...?

So far, we have three candidates for the "2013 Most Brainless People Awards" in the "Female" category...

Miley Cyrus - displaying behavioural problems, while hanging from a construction work tool...

Melissa Bachman - displaying tasteless huntsmanship behaviour, posing proudly with a dead lion she shot... and I do mean "huntsmanship", since such displays of pride are normally reserved for brainless males...

And our newest entry, Justine Sacco, who has tweeted herself into well-deserved unemployment and summoned her own personal shit storm with twelve words.

Who will win, I wonder? And will Sarah Palin present the winner and hold the speech as laudator? We will never know...

Who are the likeliest candidates in the "Male" category? Stay tuned!

Mittwoch, 18. Dezember 2013

Die "neue APO?" - Gruselige Vorstellung!!

Wie bitte???

Ich stelle mir grad die Bilder vor... weiland, 1968, lief Rudi Dutschke an der Spitze der Demonstrationen gegen den Krieg in Vietnam... In Solidarität mit dem Vietcong (die Organisation, der auch ein aus der satirischen Literatur bekanntes Känguru angehörte!) wurden Sprechchöre wie "Ho, Ho, Ho-Chi-Minh!" skandiert.

Auf der anderen Seite trat die Bild-"Zeitung" als Sprachrohr der Hetze und Verunglimpfung der damaligen APO, der echten außerparlamentarischen Opposition, auf und wurde mit zum geistigen Brandstifter des Mordanschlags auf Dutschke am 11. April 1968:

Rudi Dutschke wird auf dem Kurfürstendamm durch drei Pistolenschüsse des Anstreichers Josef Bachmann lebensgefährlich verletzt. Noch am gleichen Abend und in den nächsten Tagen kommt es zu schweren Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Polizei und Demonstranten, die in ganz Deutschland versuchen, die Auslieferung von Springer-Zeitungen zu verhindern. Die BILD titelt scheinheilig über Dutschkes Todeskampf: "Millionen bangten mit" und stellt sich gleichzeitig selbst als Opfer studentischen Terrors dar.

"Die Kugel Nummer eins kam
Aus Springers Zeitungswald
Ihr habt dem Mann die Groschen
Auch noch dafür bezahlt
Ach Deutschland, deine Mörder
Es ist das alte Lied
Schon wieder Blut und Tränen
Was gehst Du denn mit denen
Du weißt doch was dir blüht!"

(aus: "Drei Kugeln auf Rudi Dutschke", Wolf Biermann, 1968)

Und was wird jetzt, 45 Jahre danach, passieren? Joggen demnächst die Bild-Schreiberlinge mit Franz-Josef Wagner an der Spitze durch die Straßen und skandieren zu dieser "Zeitung" passende Sprechchöre? Etwa: "Ho-, Ho-, Hodenkrebs!" oder sowas? Das geht schon über Realsatire hinaus - das ist blanker Zynismus! Die damalige Hauspostille der Hetze gegen die originäre außerparlamentarische Opposition mopst sich den Namen von damals und stößt die APO in den Orkus, aus dem sie sonst ihre "Nachrichten" hervorzieht.

Hieß es bei Wolf Biermann noch "Groschen", so sind Menschen in diesem Land heute bereit dazu, für ein Blatt Altpapier, das nicht nur optisch, sondern auch inhaltlich mit einer Mischung aus Blut, Sperma und Exkrement bedruckt ist, aktuell 70 Cent zu bezahlen... nur mal zur Erinnerung, was das in der damaligen Währung bedeutet: das sind fast 1,40 DM... Das Blutgeld ist deutlich angestiegen...

Rudi Dutschke muss wohl gerade in seinem Grab rotieren, was das Zeug hält! Und wieder kann man kaum so viel essen, wie man kotzen möchte bei der kaltschnäuzigen Geschichtsvergessenheit der Mordgehilfen aus dem Verlagshaus Axel Springer!

Donnerstag, 28. November 2013

Ein neues altes Tier geht um in Deutschland...

Es ist wieder da: das zuletzt auf Bundesebene von 1966 bis 1969 und danach von 2005 bis 2009 in unserem Land heimische Grokodil ist in neuer Gestalt zurückgekehrt!

Es ist nun Zeit, auf die speziellen Besonderheiten des Grokodils in seiner Version 2013 hinzuweisen:


  • Foto: dpa
  • Karikatur: Klaus Stuttmann
  • Idee, Text und Ausführung: Andreas Spring, © 2013

Mittwoch, 20. November 2013

Dieter Hildebrandt - Mein persönlicher Nachruf

Nicht nur in der Welt des politischen Kabaretts hat der plötzliche Tod von Dieter Hildebrandt große Wellen geschlagen. Jeder Mensch, der seine Werke und Arbeit kannte und schätzte, empfindet heute ganz persönliche Trauer, je nachdem wie sehr er das jeweilige Leben geprägt hat.

In meinem Fall hat das Leben und Wirken Hildebrandts sehr starke Bezüge zu meiner Jugend und Parallelen speziell zum Leben und Wirken meines Vaters.

Etwa zwei Jahre nach Hildebrandt geboren, hat auch mein Vater seine frühe Jugend während einer sehr düsteren Epoche Deutschlands erlebt und glücklicherweise überlebt. Dieter Hildebrandt gehörte zu den öffentlich Unbequemen, die ihre Finger in Wunden legten und ihren Zuschauern präsentierten, woran der Organismus unserer Republik krankt: Seilschaften von alten und neuen Nazis in politischen Ämtern und der Wirtschaft, Korruption, Schieberei von Posten und Pöstchen im Dienste von Lobbyisten, Das Spiel mit unserer Angst vor der Vernichtung durch das atomare Wettrüsten, Umweltzerstörung... Die Aufreger lieferten die Politik nach Innen und Außen, wie auch der Alltag, der von ihr geprägt war.

Mein Vater sah die gleichen Wunden, war allerdings nicht auf der Bühne und vor der Kamera unterwegs, sondern verkörperte das Prinzip "global denken - lokal handeln" schon lange, bevor es als aktivistisches Motto populär wurde. In seiner Freizeit sammelte er Material über alte und neue Nazis in unserer Region, den alltäglichen Rassismus und Antisemitismus, engagierte sich in der Friedensinitiative Dinslaken und war maßgeblich mit daran beteiligt, dass die Stadt den Zusatz "Atomwaffenfreie Zone" auf dem Ortsschild bekam. Mit meinen Brüdern und mir zusammen marschierte er auf Ostermärschen und wir waren gemeinsam mit fast 400.000 anderen Friedenbewegten bei der zweiten großen Friedensdemonstration in Bonn am 10. Juni 1982. Ebenfalls maßgeblich war er an der Gründung der Initiative für Völkerverständigung Dinslaken e.V. beteiligt. Bei der Wahl zum Europaparlament im Jahr 1984 war er Kandidat des Wahlkreises Dinslaken für die Partei "Die Friedensliste", allerdings verhinderte sein erster Herzinfarkt, den er in jenem Jahr noch vor der Wahl erlitt, ein weiteres stärkeres Engagement.

Er nahm sich sein Engagement im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes zu Herzen. Trotz des Stress, dem er sich damit aussetzte, hat mein Vater nach der Erholung von diesem ersten Schlag sein Engagement fortgesetzt.

Das Werk und Wirken Dieter Hildebrandts war während meiner Jugend in den frühen 1980er Jahren ein steter Begleiter und die Sendung "Scheibenwischer" geradezu Pflichtprogramm im Fernsehen. Nachdem meine Eltern in den Achtzigern einen Videorekorder gekauft hatten, war mein Vater neben Dokumentationen zu denThemen, in denen er aktiv war, sehr bemüht, auch die Ausstrahlungen von Hildebrandts Beiträgen aufzuzeichnen.

Beim kritischen Blick auf die Welt und das Engagement gegen Mißstände, für Frieden und Gerechtigkeit, das auch meine Jugend in jener Zeit stark bestimmte, haben sowohl Dieter Hildebrandt als auch mein Vater Helmut Spring starke Einflüsse auf mich ausgeübt. In gewisser Weise ist Dieter Hildebrandt genauso ein väterliches Vorbild, wie es auch mein Vater war.

Mein Vater, Helmut Spring, erlag seinem zweiten Herzinfarkt am 3. Dezember 1993 im Alter von nur 63 Jahren. Er würde dieses Jahr am 26. Dezember 84 Jahre alt.

Zwei Wochen bevor sich der Todestag meines Vaters zum zwanzigsten Mal jährt, traf mich - wie auch alle anderen - die heutige Nachricht vom Tod Dieter Hildebrandts. Für mich fühlt es sich jedoch so an, als sei der Geist meines Vaters und seines Engagements ein zweites Mal erloschen.

Der Tod von Dieter Hildebrandt hat uns einen der großen Warner und Mahner, den dieses Land brauchte, genommen. Mit ihm verläßt uns das linke Gewissen, das die SPD so dringend nötig hat und schon vor Jahren verlor. "Wer von ihm nichts gelernt hat, ist ein hoffnungsloser Fall" schrieb Frank-Markus Barwasser, alias Erwin Pelzig, heute in seinem Nachruf auf Dieter Hildebrandt in der taz. Recht hat er.

Für mich ganz persönlich ist das Gefühl der Trauer um Dieter Hildebrandt ein beinahe familiäres. Ich werde ihn, einen verwandten Geist meines Vaters, sehr vermissen.