Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Back at Home

Returning from my recent trip to Germany I was thinking about the meaning of home. In my time on this earth I have seen quite a lot of this beautiful planet. Ever since I was small, I have been traveling, moving, uprooting and saying goodbye. My first move was with my parents when I was two years old and since then I have moved more times than I can count.

My parents moved between South Africa and Germany several times while I was at school and once I had left school and ventured out on my own, I continued to move. I moved from apartment to apartment within Johannesburg and then between Cape Town and Johannesburg several times and in the year 2000, I made the big move to London. There I moved five times in the five years and always had a feeling that I would leave again. In 2005 I made the big move to San Francisco where I have stayed. It's the first time in my life that I have lived in the same city and same apartment for 7 years!

I've never had a real sense of home in the traditional sense of a childhood home. There is no family house to go back to and today my parents continue to move between Germany and South Africa – most recently my father made a joke that they just take long vacations with their furniture!

This sense of home is an interesting concept. There is a word in German "Heimat" ... this describes the sense belonging to a place where one is from (home). Not having ever had this kind of physical place that I can call home has often resulted in my feeling as if I don't belong anywhere. There are no roots to go back to, no history to trace. In Germany I feel I am not German enough, in South Africa I have always felt like an immigrant, in London I was too South African and in America ... well... here, I have no roots to speak of at all.

Sometimes this can make me feel disconnected and I accept that I will always remain an outsider no matter where I choose to live but I also accept that I have a choice in how I feel about it. One thing is certain, I feel fortunate to have chosen San Francisco as my home. This is a very diverse city and there are many people that are not from here, people that are here actually want to be here and that makes it easier to connect and feel a sense of community.

I have learned that home is where you make it and what you put into the space around you. I have felt at home in many places. I feel at home in nature. I feel at home where I feel loved. I feel at home where I feel peace. Home is within me.


Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Future World

Leaving San Francisco last week I got to think about just how real our "Brave New World" already is. I used to think of this future world as a place that existed in the minds of the science fiction writers. As I arrived at the airport in the hybrid taxi it occurred to me more than before just how "futuristic" our existence already is.

Our grandparents could not even have fathomed the idea that one could fly from city to city, or country to country, in one day, let alone that an airport would be like a "train station" ... today an airport is a transit hub just like every other.

The entire process at the airport is also so "Brave New World". After you have retrieved your boarding card ... having scanned your identity document into a machine, you stand in a long line to enter a "millimeter wave detector" ... (Seriously? What the hell is that anyway!?!) scanning us for our safety in the skies!

Human behavior itself has evolved so much in the last ten years. When we need to figure out how something works, we search for it on YouTube and somewhere in the world someone will have posted a video tutorial explaining how to use it. I had to use YouTube recently to figure out how to start a Prius (yes, this is true!) and I have also used it before to figure how to use one of those fancy coffee machines with the pods that they have all over Europe.

I do see that it could be possible, that I am simply not of this new "generation" but I do evolve and I do my best to take part in new things. I think it is most important to stay interested in all things (new and old) Thankfully traveling keeps my day to day interesting, and I get to see how trends change in other parts of the world.

In my future, I hope to slow down a little. I dream about less travel, about owning a dog and spending more time running in the hills. I want to travel for leisure and for pleasure and I also want to remember to value some of the "old" things of this world.

But for now, I will live for today and with every breath of my being enjoyed it as much as I can. In the words of Buddah: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

Monday, July 9, 2012


So this past week in America it was the oh so grand 4th of July celebrations. While many families were barbequing or watching parades or fireworks, I spent the day with friends eating cheese, drinking wine and listening to old vinyl records. I had forgotten how wonderful the sound of vinyl is. There is something so unique to the sound of records, a sound that itunes just cant replicate. There is also something so delightfully nostalgic about lifting the record needle, placing it on the record and then when the one side is done, lifting that needle again, placing it in the cradle and then flipping the album over for the B side and another 5 songs. We are so spoiled with the option of a continuous stream of music that I don't think we savor those 5 songs in the same way anymore. Ah, the good old days...

In the sprit of the independence holiday, I have been focusing on my own hard fought independence. I am inspired to make changes in my life like eating better and sleeping more. These positive changes will help me move towards more conscious living and better running!

I am starting to get my running legs back but I cannot believe how much harder it feels. My brain thinks I can still go the distance but my lungs and legs are not entirely up to speed. It’s humbling for sure, but I am aware that it’s all about consistency and perseverance, I just need to keep getting out there – in a few months, it will feel a lot smoother. I know it.

It is just over a year until I head to Iceland for the biggest adventure yet, I will be taking part in a multi-day race in Iceland. I have a lot of training miles ahead of me and I will be sure to document some of it as I go along. First though I need to remember to focus on the smaller stuff, the consistent 6 milers, the long runs on the weekends and simply keeping one foot in front of the other.

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Power of the Mind

Recently I was have one of those “rough” days and I got to thinking how I’ve soldiered on through so many things in my life. There is a certain “endurance” to toughing things out and it occurred to me that maybe this is why I like long distance running.

I was in a conversation with a friend last weekend where I was commenting on a certain race course, I said that I wasn’t sure if I would want to run it because it was a repetitive loop and that would be boring ... my friend instantly disagreed with me and suggested rather that this was a course that was fun to run because it would train my mind to follow through. To solve a problem.
So is running a metaphor for life?
Some mornings even though according to my training plan I am scheduled to go for a run, I hesitate because I don’t “feel” like it ... but I know that if I lace up and go out I will feel great. In long distance running, when we are faced with a challenge we have to find a solution - so much of running, from lacing up to breaking through the "wall" is actually figuring out how to solve a problem. The problem of not being in the mood or breaking through that "wall" to get to the finish line.

So when I have a tough day and I don’t feel like having to to soldier on, when I am tired and I don’t want to have to solve the problem ... I know I need to adjust my attitude and carry on. Human beings although sometimes prone to feeling lazy, are not wired to give up. We are designed to improve, to grow. If we stand still for too long then we stagnate ... in life, as in running, if we don’t keep our bodies moving we pay the price.

Living in the developed world it is so easy to complain, to get tired of our “rough” days, but I like to remind myself that even though I have those days where I get tired, when I simply don’t want to move forward, I have little to complain about. I really am lucky, lucky, lucky! My problems are silver plated and it is my duty keep evolving, to keep moving, to keep soldiering on.

The future is in my hands ... the mind is very powerful, it really is all about attitude and maybe some problem solving.

"I am the master of my fate: the captain of my soul" - (from Invictus by William Ernest Henley)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Did Facebook kill my Blog?

I had often wondered what it was that caused me to stop writing. I love to write, but for reasons not entirely clear to me, I stopped. The last post on skyrocketpops is dated November 12, 2010 ... so what happened? Recently I was thinking how much our daily social media habits have influenced how our interactions with people have changed. A pre-timeline facebook asked us what we were doing, how we felt and we responded:
"Sabine is: having a good day" ... enough said!
Or was it?

Often so many other thoughts were swirling around my head, but facebook is soooo public, I did not feel comfortable putting much out there. Besides, how did I know who was reading my "updates" ... As someone that describes herself as a “happy” person, I would never write "Sabine is: a having a bad day" (even if I was) for fear of someone reading that and thinking that I really AM having a bad day ... and then who cares anyway? I have heard that so often from people when commenting about facebook, no one cares to read that you are eating your dinner, or running your bath or taking the kids to playschool ... but yet, we post this information for the world to see.

So much of our communication has been condensed into these micro-conversations, we text, we tweet, we update status. I wonder if that is that making us better (more efficient) communicators or are we just becoming more superficial in the way we interact with people and communicate at large? Is social media destroying our real-world relationships or enhancing them?

I personally like to use facebook when I travel, the short messages keep me feeling connected to my friends and family around the world, but I'd really appreciate a personal email or a phone call sometime too. Just reading what everyone else is doing, keeps me informed but it's a shallow connection.

We are overwhelmed by information, constantly distracted by messages ... whether it be advertising or our inboxes, there is that daily struggle to process all that comes our way ... no wonder the output dies ... why would anyone what to fill the world with even more words! Well, that was until last week... I decided that its high time I started to add my words to the mass of words that live "out there" and this is why I have this new blog. I will most likely still simply "think out loud" and I don't know how it will evolve, but I have a lot to say and I hope you enjoy my journey as much as I'm going to enjoy mine.

Welcome and enjoy the ride!