“How meaningful is life for you lately?”
I think i lose a sense of meaning recently
I created meaning so it means i'm able to create it again
At the moment i'm disconnected to the way it creates meaning
I think there is too much change in my life
It’s a good thing up to a certain point where i lost some marks that’s central to my way of thinking
It’s a good thing to renew the point of view but spending your time adapting to change?
There’s been some revelations this weekend
I’m still digesting a lot of that
Im adjusting ...
I've started an introspection process
I don't want to be blocked by the old judgement at my home
And i'm more interested in seeing what’s familiar inside for me
How fertile as a land it is that is your life?
It’s very simple and good question
I think it’s a fertile land where there is nothing on it
The land is very good to grow anything but there’s inside it
What did you like about Japan?
I didn't spend enough time there, of course of course
I had too much expectations for japan not enough for malaysia
So i prefered Malaysia because of having no expectations for it
I wasn’t surprised by anything i saw in Japan
I was trying to continue to adjust my perception ike i do in melbourne and all those places
It’s not being grabbed by the new place by surprise
It’s like oh this is a nice place
There’s nothing that changed me that’s what i'm sad about
How was Malaysia?
It’s related to the simplicity of life there probably
Probably the simplicity of behavior as well because it's connected...you can see more easily the human nature
I like they have so much access to so much good things
And everyone has access to it
I didn’t know it’s such a muslim country
I like to see normal people
People who are nice and friendly
I really liked penang
It was really nice and beautiful
And totally different from KL
The simplicity of life was nice
Easy access to nature
May I ask, Why did you come to NZ?
Did I not tell you?
E: I never asked.
B: I needed to break with my past
And i wanted to go to a place where i would actually more to the environment - nature & people
Nz was just an interesting place for that
It was a developed country enough for me to have a modern life
Where i could express myself
I will become a baker because i'm not a baker
Where i'm from it’s half city half country side
There’s probably a few reasons to leave NZ
Just the willing of life
So what did NZ not offer you?
--- the diversity of moving myself all the time - i had to move all the time to see diversity
--- not enough point of view. It’s too easy to enjoy
Sydney for me was to be a freelancer - my freedom - it’s sth i wanted to do for quite a long time
To work for myself and not depend on one company
To be honest what i feel like doing at the moment is to not work -
How would the perfect friendship look like for you?
Someone that brings inspiration to you and me to them
What are your greatest fears, if there are any?
I spent quite the last years of my life trying t face and fight my fear
Si keep going this way
Which means every time i think about it, i make a point out of it
It’s not realising my true potential.
Let’s say it more definitely, not going the furthest i can.
I just want to realise who i am. It doesn't have to be like by developing myself.
What kind of people do you love the best?
People that walk the talk
The worst kind of people?
The exact opposite way. It can lead them to being noone.
What is your way of helping people?
They just need to realise it. That’s sth there’s not much to do about it.
What can you do with people that don’t want to realise that?
They need to understand what caused them to do that
Then we can make
There is a few.
1 which is really redundant is don’t produce their mistake, on purpose or not, and face the outcome of it.
“oh you cannot give me advice because they’re my parents.”
I remember what’s interesting thing i’ve done in my life is i actually find the solution and go do what it takes to fix the problem. I’ve done that in wellington. And it’s one of the things i’m most proud of.
How are you connecting with your guitar(s)?
Each time i sell one and buy another one
The one i gave up in wellington
Because it’s the best guitar i ever had
I didn't know it was the best guitar i ever had
Because i always compared it
Now i know i lost sth
I took the electric accoustic, for the process of creativity
Somehow i know it would, but the quality of the sound of the guitar, because the bod being smaller
What i love the most is strumming, lots of energy, finding rhythm , make a mistake and make sth good out of it
In terms of the left hand i’m always exploring
I fucking should do sth out of it
It’s not ok to be so static with my left hand
I’m using 50% of the instrument
I think guitar is worse
There’s 2 different things you have to do
Without the left hand, you’re just doing patterns
I’m just doing baby steps
It’s not good enough
It’s just not good enough
I don’t know yet how to improve
It’s like some people in life , they’re playing w their left hand
BL that is a fucking great way of putting it. That’s true
How much place does music have in your life? Are you listening to music all the time though?
All the time. But, it’s dangerous sometimes, because i can be disappointed what i do
Music I once said is a giving and receiving - and you said, it’s bidirectional
It can’t be otherwise.
Even when i relate to my music, i relate to it
And i feel that at some stage someone will speak my language
Before when i was not ok with playing w someone now i don’t give a shit, i have a guitar in the end, doesn't’ matter whether you like it or not, fuck you, i feel like what i’m doing.
Would you be okay to be blind or deaf?
You know what? I think i am blind
I don’t know if i tell you
Without lens, i couldn’t evolve into society
It’s true! It’s absolutely true
I see shades. Colors. I can or cannot recognise ish things
But truly it’s a different life.
E: in what life
I can’t identify things
E: sometimes it’s nice to see everything blurry
Exactly that’s right
There’s a french writer
Hit’s nice to be choose than to see things
Me: i did. I became so analytic. Because in my true nature, i learn how to bring stuff closer to me.
To bring them closer , to see them i needed to bring them closer
And it has some effect to my personality
Some people are their personality
Some people neglect it, their ability and their personality
“I’m gonna zip my boots and go back to my roots
Not the roots in men”
I think that funk music release more truth than anything
They are releasing music for people to dance with
how crazy is that
Finding w happiness with just that state of mind
So many people chasing chasing
It’s fucking poetry
Music is always good and bad
At the moment i cannot relate to a conversation because probably it’s not the right music too
There’s music which are good for...some context, others are not
E: why do you think that is
it’s easily demonstrable
If i put you some music of britney spears...if you don't feel disturbed i will put it louder you will feel disturbed
Sth i was thinking
I was listening to music that’s very powerful
They should do some music place e.g. clubs these days - clubs are actually the place where you’re interacting with people there with music
People are falling over
It would be 100% experience
The mass black that’s growing with people these days is that they’re growing distanced from themselves
That they’re no longer getting pleasure out of it
I want to do sth for undoing sth
I was considering kite surf
I thought about what you were saying
I’m an active being - my body being s meant to be used in action
Maybe this contemplative state is not useful for me
It’s not what i need
Probably forcing and pacing and leaving the wind
There is a certain level you can reach which gives you certain ability
With the snowboard - no matter how high you jump, it’s the same feedback
When i went to gili gili -- i had a struggle going into the water
I didn’t like the darkness
It’s like death to me
E: it’s just unnatural, we’re not meant to be there
We’re not supposed to swim around the coral reefs and kill them at the same time
Crazy stuff live in deep water
There are more creatures in the ocean than there are on land & in the sky but
We’re not made for being deep in the water
It’s cool what crazy things people can do but
Like Felix Brau. skydiving from space but
I don’t see the point of that
B: Falling is natural
Goal in the next 2 , 5, and 10 years:
You’re lucky. I actually wrote it down on paper.
You’re fucking lucky.
Do you want me to read it?
It was a goal i fixed
But i lost and now i wanna fix it again
It’s not gone yet, it’s back
It’s feeling love again
Or falling in love again
There is waking up my instinct
It’s sth i’ve written 13 July 2014
2 fucking years ago
It ‘s supposed to happen in 1 year
But maybe it’s a constant goal
Maybe it's about money making
Handling well my positions
A lifestyle, sth constant
It’s very related to being constant
There is building up myself knowing myself and work out
In 5 year - Starting a family
At The moment i don't have any goals for 10 years
But in the long run, i want to achieve myself into whatever i start
If it’s a family,it’s about being a father
If it’s a model in a community, it’s about being a model
I think some stuff - being a pillar for my family
Which ive started in coming back to france
It’s for 10 years
How do you want to be a pillar for your family
B: helping guiding
What is the importance of being in the moment?
Not worrying about the future
Not being concerned about the past
The most important, relating to your own life
E: so being the poetry rather than trying to read it
B: yeah, being the poet of your life
What is the one thing that will definitely make you happy?
And very depressed?
I think when everyone in my life is happy.
E: that’s harrrrrd!!
B: it’s my project. If they’re not , out of my life
To reach a level of consciousness which will allow me to choose any --
I want to be aware of movement.
E: why movement instead of non-movement
B: it’s like a plane, they’re meant to be in the air. They’re not meant to be on the ground.
Because We’re all active things.
When sth really horrible just happened to you, how do you usually deal w it? what is your process
I digest. And acknowledge. Or i acknowledge to digest.
Then i take an action if there is one.
Otherwise i live with it.
Or i die with it. It’s a good way to say it because,
“as soon as we’re born, we start to die.”
How do you perceive sadness, hardship, difficulty, struggles and pain?
Struggle i can see it as a challenge. But sadness, not.
Sadness i perceive it as a turn of reflection. Maybe it helps to find sth positive out of it.
Everything falls into place.
Do you think it’s important to be lonely? What is the importance of loneliness?
I grew up lonely to be honest
I never found a matching environment for me
I been changing environment al lot
Loneliness for me was a bit of a defeat
That’s what its meaning
If you’re not surrounded, you're not surrounded , you’re failing
But it’s poetry we’re talking about
There’s no way you can see it in people
There’s no way to relate to people
Until people see what you see, and you see what they see, wow, that’s a long walk
Everything is about balance
You need to put you out of yourself
Sometimes you just need to see the shade of tree
I have a nice tree in front of my house
It’s getting pinkish in spring time
These days, i'm really appealed by the shade of things
I love the shade , it’s fucking great
Like the shade of the tree is moving
It’s like a print of the tree on the ground
The problem is
I see what would be good
But if i don't see the big picture of it
I don't start the process
Maybe i'm too ambitious - that’s it! You were asking me what is my worst trait -
There fucking go!
I’m gonna go see a horse
I have a friend She’s a bit special
She has a horse
She really enjoys the time to spend with it
She invited me to come and
It’s sth somehow i’ll relate to
She’s gonna be on a horse
I will be not alone
And actually enjoy the company of someone
Actually i’ll see someone in their true skin
Isn’t that fantastic!
A wild horse - what does it mean
First it’s a wild animal
It doesn't live alone
Would it be wild on its own
E: Yah, coz it’ll always be looking for sth
B: that's right...food...or a mate...
E: I don't know...have you seen a wild horse?
B: have you?
I don't know, when i see a horse...that’s tamed..i feel sad for them because
If i was a horse...i would NEVER ever stop kicking
I would do Anything to get out
Have you seen the movie Spirit?
It’s worth watching.
Maybe it’s like a commitment to any of these ideas
At the moment i'm adjusting my relations circle , reducing everything, i’m prioritising a lot
It’s a survival instinct
I know too much, that’s the problem
I don’t want to feel oppressed
E: Who does
B: when you choose to be a leader, you feel oppressed, not only by your own duty
In modern companies, you just have to manage the pressure coming above you
It’s really shit. It's a total rip off of the concept of leadership
A company works with people, about sth...
I’m trying to do a crossing between what i know, where i wanna go.
It’s very abstract
A word that comes to my mind often is poetry
I want to connect to more of the poetry of life
Poetry is absolutely not connected to any concept to any productivity or duty
Maybe some duty can come under way
Once you found a reason , what makes you unique, you become indispensable to this world
E: you have more drive to live to keep going when you found a reason
You used to say “Work is a place I don't want to be.”
“It is a meaningless action to preserve my rights on a foreign land”
You “changed 5 times of work and 10 times of places (including short term) in the last year”
It’s said because, to me “it aggravates me if someone proclaims life is meaningless when its the choices that have to be made that suppresses the actual meaningful existence we have and deserve coz Working and helping people is different
U recognize the sense of neediness and urgency in life at its barest state
Life is a struggle and its nice that way”
“Meaning is what is the most personal that we apply as filter on things we experiment
If what you experiment does not trigger feeling strings
It may have no meaning
This is our duty to feel the pleasure in simple things
But we unfortunately also have the capacity of seeing the world as a big picture
This is where it gets complicated
We would not be greedier than snail without this ability”
What would your next ideal job be/consist of?
You said “I realise that places where I live cannot be complete without a sense of servitude” “I still have this memory of a meaningful presence in my job of Trademe”
“So I am currently trying to recreate an environment similar which would allow me to reestablish a balance to grow my truth on the side”
“Cause at the moment I am a desert where nothing can grow
That is very interesting to be a desert too”
“Desert are meant to be as well”
“It just a place where life is hard
And difficult to grip
Not a luxury greenish life
Not the one I love
I have to go out of it
I know it is about a few adjustments or a big change to get out of this
It will not happen without effort though
Passivity will only lead to more desert places
May be a land more fertile will come”
I cruelly insisted that desert is beautiful & necessary...i said w times of rest comes times of change
You said “Necessary place to remind life what is not comfortable”
Because “ive come to understand that its important to have low times
its important that we have that
so we can push out of it again
like all the seeds,
we have to be buried
to push through earth
and sprout into being”
“I am preparing my new land then
That is good”
What is the world?
How do we know it?
You said “ Everything we can imagine without touching it”
Hence i added “meaninglessness comes from a definition that we are not supposed to settle with
there is so much possibility to what the world, what life, could be.
to lose that sense of curiosity
to forget that we have possibilities out there
makes us say, life has no meaning.”
You wrote back: The issue comes when your time available for free thoughts get limited with something (work for instance) which is not your concern and tend to replace your meaning with its meaning
There are actions to do against it. But when you physical freedom is tied to it
There is something quite wrong
I just have lost it (the big picture)”
Tell me about the intestines being the second brain again please if you may?
You watched this amazing doco once about it.
And you said that humans are bacteria of the universe
You said “the immune system is not like soldat that fights for good
It is like a strength that auto balance itself
Means every disease is always already a part of us but become a disease when unbalanced
Just like human on earth”
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
It’s not arrived. yet.
Went out of my previous self.
Of my previous me.
What historical figure do you most identify with?
There was none of them.
I had to find them myself, whether it was in reading or...whatever i could find inspiration, in culture,
There was not enough that. No one to push you, no ...
A lot of the philosophers...that help me relate advising. To put things into perspective. And...
They’re not only ..
I love Nietzsche. I like a few of his talks.
Some stuff that come from the japanese culture as well. Miyamoto Kazushi. The self made samurai.
Stuff that comes out of cinema , in reading, - people as well like -
Sometimes just somebody out of his life - observe what he’s been saying
Trying t make the most of any source of inspiration
French writer - andre gide - he’s very interesting - i read him when i was quite depressed when i was younger - he was talking about any ways of enjoying life - i really absorbed - things he said maybe wasn’t true but it's still useful for me in the future
I think any culture feels pop culture to me now
There’s not one that comes to me and say he’s not
What makes people interesting is actually their paradox.
E: Well that’s their balance at the same time.
B:well people that don't live with their paradox they aren’t interesting
E: They should always embrace what’s happening in themselves
Who are your heroes in real life?
No but i can take people as model. Form some part of their life.
I can look at someone putting out of his box and look for what is the best
Matthew is one of the most constant people i know
He’s been through sports, and study, anything that requires some effort
And that's inspiring for me
Because the only time where i've been constant in my life that’s when it brought me the best result
I think it's when you feel like you’re achieving as well
But you need to feel feedback from nature
If you don't get this feedback it’s hard to maintain the constancy
Maybe the first push from nature helps you to be constant
A positive circle
It’s a virtue
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
There’s definitely sth.
Let me find out the word...
I feel like i'm rejecting myself so much
For me i'm an imperfect thing as if i just work all the time to fix sth
There’s nothing which is perfect
That means everything has to be fixed
We’re in a competitive world
Recently i lost the central point
I lost where my qualities and what actually ...there’s some sort of stuff we’re given at birth
If you know what it is, you can translate them into actions.
It’s related to a fusion between instinct and growth
Growth is everything you absorb in your brain, as a person - to do sth out of life,
Instinct is more like how to act
There’s a difference between action and reaction
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
The lack of integrity
But the thing is, selfishness is a reaction, i mean, if the action is a reaction...
If there’s no one to judge you, there’s never a lack of integrity
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I always find the truth on both sides of the coin
Sth i had in common with the australian girlfriend i had
She said that to me as well, she was seeing every positive aspects in everything
It’s exactly the same situation for me all the time
It’s very creative for me, you can see positivity in 1 2 3 steps going all the way
If you tell me that this quality is not very good,
I would say well,
What is your greatest regret?
I gave up on my regrets.
They can go fuck themselves.
Because i grew up with it
I haven't been to school in a way
I haven't had a normal childhood
Sth i must undergo and not create it
Sth that’s not in my control
I don't wanna blame myself for it
What is your current state of mind?
Depends on my mind and my body
Sth i found about in australia
When you feel stressed, and you consider you’re not ...it affects your emotions and your feelings
You need to always make a distinction
That’s sth i struggle to do
I'm trying to meditate from time to time
I’m not doing good enough
That’s sth i need to blame myself for it
I know how good i feel when i do that
It’s hard to create that energy
Right now i don't know what job i want
But i'm way more healthier than i was in australia
I'm doing a lot of exercise
Mind positive as well
I cannot state on anything, on happiness or anything
Sth i always found - i always a problem to find a solution
I always choose to do that
I find it not enough for whatever reason
Often i criticise sth and i find answer for it
When you see people who just face people who just find critique, they just find negative for it
To them, it’s just negative, that just goes against the energy
Lots of people to a certain point will reject a critic
To some extent, if you go deep enough, you will be rejected
Maybe that’s why i'm looking for that loneliness
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Naaaa i dont want to anymore
It’s when we totally give up
E: Sometimes you gotta help people by stopping to help them
Where would you like to live?
Underneath the shade of a tree in a place that allows it
A community with security
What is your motto, if any?
That’s sth i build on a day to day basis.
I have nothing to stick to.
E: what would you like to tell the world if it’s the one thing they should do?
B: i would tell them to listen and play music.
Musicians are my models. And i don’t care the way they live.
When i say They‘re my models, i don’t want to hear they make music out of it, i don't want a musician who makes money. But makes sth out of it
There’s a song - where is the wind - oh my god! Have you heard this song? It’s the most ..its so opera...
always temporary. If i had to tell you, eggs. It’s not my favorite, but because it’s simple, i will be able to eat it until it. It’s perfect. It’s like potatoes. It tastes less, but it gives more taste. Plus all the positive things it gives to your body.
What is freedom to you?
In the past i was wrong. Today i may be right.
That it’s to go anywhere anytime
Coz it’s space freedom
But the freedom to do whatever you want, it’s not whatever Shit YOU want but whatever you truly want
Nicolas @condevonblatt:on buenos aires, the economy in argentina, his love of new zealand, nz film industry, nz as a 2nd-world country, the beauty of photography, and some simple yet great advice
Nicolas' Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/condevonblatt/
Why did you come to Wellington ?
Coz it’s my place in the world.
I’ve been to different cities and countries all over the world, and this is the place where I feel most comfortable;
and good things just happen, even on the street;
if bad things happen, a good thing follows.
What do you plan to do here?
See if I want to live here.
And see how easy it is to achieve it.
What - if you could - would you like to change about Wellington?
I’d have liquor stores open until midnight. and I’d try to challenge the film and TV industry to make better shit.
They don’t know they’re making shit.
They film something average and they feel it’s like Hollywood.
I’d like everything like stores and bars to just open late.
If it's 10 pm and you’ve hurt something, you can’t get drugs. At least in Argentina, pharmacies, not every single one, but almost everyone, [open for 24 hours].
They could have 2 [pharmacies that open for 24 hours] at least per city here.
You cut yourself with glass, and you have to wait.
What would you not change about Wellington?
Tell me about Argentina.
It’s a very big country but most of the people are in the capital.
Crime [rate] is high, economy is bad,
which makes everyone suspect each other, even in the most simple things.
Like the happiest person has the stress level higher than any country -
I just notice that when I go outside.
What’s the least safe place to go to to in Buenos Aires, then?
It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods.
All the tourists go there.
So eventually all the pickpockets and criminals are there.
The city is alive 24 hours.
If you wanna go to stand-up comedy shows, dancing,
there are 5 spots to do that -
any day of the week.
Half of Buenos Aires is not good to be in.
But after some time you learn to dress and act [in certain ways].
You have to choose to be fearless or scary.
Sometimes, as a guy, I dress like I know people would be scared of me,
but I choose that way:
Acting suspicious [rather] than acting scared.
We tend to think like criminals so we’re one step ahead of them.
For example, I got a job here [on last my trip in 2010] at Burger King.
[Once,] when we finished our shifts, I was asking another Argentinian
[who was also working with me],
“Did you notice there’s no security cameras here?”
And we devised a whole plan to steal everything from the tills,
stealing people’s [pin] numbers...
We knew how to steal the whole place,
because we tend to think like criminals.
So in Argentina, you can’t be sure of anyone anymore.
If you want to ask someone the time, they'll tell you the time,
but they won’t stop walking.
Doesn’t that tell you about a country’s ethics too?
Yeah, people are more honest here.
In Argentina, people obey the law, because they know they’ll be punished.
Here, people do the right thing because they know it’s the right thing.
I heard about this:
[at] one of the Pak ‘n’ Save,
they had automated doors, and they forgot to shut it on a public holiday.
[So] it stayed opened [that day],
and there was no one there.
Some people came in and used the self-checkout
coz noone was there to check [them] out.
What was the first country you went to?
No idea. It was in the 90s.
In my country, [the] president suddenly made peso [the same value as the] U.S. dollar,
and suddenly we had the same economy like the U.S.
And everyone travelled a lot. We felt rich.
We were trying to spend the whole country’s economy.
It lasted 10 years, and we had the biggest economic crisis.
So I remember going to different countries.
I would always go and do what my parents tell me because I was young.
I knew it was different cultures - took me a while to understand things.
Nowadays I think I should go back to all those places to experience them for myself.
[Because] I don't actually think it counts [as real travel experiences for me]:
when I was 8, I went to paris;
when I was 12, I went to the U.S..
I grew up in the 90s.
The first 12 years of my life -
I saw everyone in a very good mood and an economy booming;
and then I experienced different economic crisis.
2001 was the biggest one when the dollar collapsed.
We’d been broke - as a country -
from being a ‘rich” country to being ‘broke’
most of the time and repeat a crisis every 5 years.
The theory is that we have crisis every 10 years
but we have it every 5.
Compare it to the Golden Years,
I know that this is how it’s going to be always.
We have the power to be a very rich country,
we have a lot of natural resources,
and we rank - very high or used to - our universities,
and every person leaves the country to be good somewhere else.
We have all this potential but the country is so corrupt.
When the person finds sth to do for the country, they find obstacles.
It’s sad, but it’s always going to be like this -
unless someone decides to change.
I remember there’s this guy... He was an Argentine.
He made a lot of money, millions.
He wanted to invest in Argentina.
He wanted to improve the trains system.
The government took the 5 million [he gave them],
[but] trains never improved.
He tried to create a business to invest in the country to make it better.
There was this interview of him, [and he said,]
he got asked for a bribe 3 times in the first 5 minutes [of engagement with the other parties].
It’s just difficult - if you have money, you’re bound to lose it.
Corruption is just fucking everywhere.
I’m picturing like the worst case scenario.
[But] you can live and survive and be happy somehow.
It’s not that shitty as they tell you, [it’s] just to make a point.
But being in New Zealand and Wellington,
you see a country works how it should work
and you just fall in love, can’t go back.
First time I went back, I took the taxi everywhere -
I felt unsafe everywhere -
took me 3 months to learn how to walk at night time.
A country can’t satisfy everyone.
When something is close to perfect, every imperfection stands out.
But if you compare it to a wolf country, this [New Zealand] is healthy.
Right now I’m talking to many people I met back then here, [friends from Argentina who travelled in NZ,]
and they’re telling me to send them picture of everything they loved.
So I’m sending pictures all day.
Even my brother’s wife who lives in Amsterdam is asking me for pictures.
She’s been told how magical and beautiful this country this is.
Should the film industry represent New Zealand at all?
No. There is a very small film industry.
I know it feels big for the people here,
but it’s a small country with a small population.
So how would you portray New Zealand to the rest of the world?
As a country that works, that’s full of small-town people
even in big cities - in a way that they are calm, relaxed, safe.
When people ask me in Argentina why in what way do I think [of New Zealand],
I say police officers don’t carry guns [at least when I was last travelling here],
and they understand [what that’s like straightaway].
People are relaxed because there’s nothing to be tense about.
There’s a lot of alcoholism and domestic violence here.
[But] I think, for me, it’s the fact that
there’s no crime here or just a tiny amount compared to my country
and that changes people a lot. And I think
that part of the change is what strikes me the most.
Everyone’s calm and nice
and don’t suspect about anything or anyone.
And that might be just one thing about them -
for me it’s the most important one.
What about Wellington?
Wellington has a lot of art
everywhere of every kind,
a lot of movements, a lot of youth -
which is not everywhere in New Zealand.
Do you think NZ is a really mediocre country?
No, I consider it a second world country.
It’s not quite up there to say the first.
And people don’t consider themselves first.
But everything works.
And that puts them above the 3rd world country.
People know how it should be better so they complain about it.
But things are pretty good here.
What have you learnt from the film crew that you were working with for a while here?
That film schools here are not good.
It could use some improvement, and that
I may have a shot - at staying here because of it.
Filmmakers are good but for their age
they aren’t as good as all the people I’d known.
The film schools - studying films [is a field that] has been booming [in NZ].
So many people go to school for that for many years.
And then you have just a shit load of filmmakers and not a lot of things to film.
There should be a lot of competition.
Film schools here have more an approach to analysing and theories,
and they don’t shoot much they dont get hands on.
It’s a hands-on industry, you need to be on the field and learn the tricks, and realise what movies are about.
A lot of people I talk to - they had just finished film school,
they have no idea what they’ll shoot,
when there’s 6 different positions to shoot things.
For my age, I have a lot more experience than anyone I’ve met here;
[in] Argentina, maybe not so much,
because I started when I was 15.
[So, here,] I could teach.
I could teach 5 years ago.
I could maybe improve film school.
I could, maybe, if I have more contacts,
if I knew more people, get to work in bigger projects.
Because I’d seen TV shows here,
I have seen people promoting themselves on a shoot,
and cameras are just set up -
from the pictures I could spot 10 mistakes;
I'd seen people work and professional people look like students from Argentina on their second year.
They just don’t know.
There are some things that after working for 10 years you just don’t think about coz you know how to do it correctly.
Certain projects - they been working on it for ages,
it’s always about to get shot.
In Argentina, you can apply for funds for short films -
it’s like a contest: 1000 entries, but only a handful get picked.
Here, you can shoot everywhere;
in Argentina, you can just get a few people and shoot it in a day or half a day,
we can do it for 200 dollars because it’s not too much to shoot.
[It’s as if] people consider [filmmaking as] a hobby.
In [the film industry or the medical field in] Argentina, it works like the army:
higher ranks treat lower ranks like shit.
[I know someone] who was a doctor, - he just couldn't take it.
And doctors aren’t the best paid jobs.
He went on to help his uncle selling boats;
nowadays he’s saving a lot of lives with LifeStraw -
he’s the distributor in Argentina,
and distribute it to the hardest parts of the world,
saving far more people than he could’ve.
You never become who you set out to be.
I believe it. I experienced it.
People in Argentina suspect each other that they’re not good people.
You know House M.D.?
He’s an asshole to everyone and proud of it.
I used to be like that.
And what changed you?
The people of New Zealand.
I was an asshole for 10 days and I felt shit coz people are so nice.
In Argentina, if you’re as nice as people here,
you’re stupid and you’re laughed at.
Here, I want to be that person.
And I met a lot of amazing people,
and I figured out I don't wanna be House,
I wanted to help people.
I went through some of the experiences [you know about]
last time [I was travelling here]: lived in a car, faced deportation,
and met some people who without wanting reward just helped me,
just because they knew it was the right thing to do
or they just felt like doing so.
And it was life changing - it changed me a lot.
Now, when I was back in Argentina,
even though I suspected everyone, I had faith.
What do you set out to be now from now on?
I’m the type of person who defines himself by his career.
I know I shouldn’t do, but I wouldn’t know how to describe myself.
I wouldn’t try to make an educator a full-time thing,
I want to do it part-time.
I realise I don’t hate teaching as much as I thought.
And I love learning. But I love filming...
I think I just answered my own question.
What is it about using a camera that’s so attractive to you?
Two sides: for one, I love setting up a mood,
showing someone either a picture or a film,
making someone feel something.
I like that and at the same time I’m a very technical person -
I love knowing how somethings works.
Photography is a mix of those two.
The more you know how to tinker, [the better you are at] creating the mood.
That’s why I don’t like shooting corporate videos and such,
I don't care for that, I wanna tell a story,
I want the viewer to feel something when they see it.
Was it the pictures that grabbed you? Or the feelings?
At first it was the chemicals.
At 15, I wanted to be a photographer.
At 16, a cinematographer.
What got me was working in the lab.
I loved the technical part of the chemicals.
It was a craft but at the same time it was technical,
and I found it really cool.
I actually sucked at everything else.
I didn’t know how to take proper pictures,
I couldn’t frame them properly.
I realised I didn’t have talents.
When I first started to go to photography school,
we would go out - 40 people,
everyone would shoot away on film.
It’s all digital nowadays,
before, you had to think about them and take 50 pictures.
Now you take thousands.
I didn’t know what to shoot, couldn’t see an image.
It took me many years to show people [something, and] they weren’t good.
But after learning all the tricks, the technical side of it,
after mixing all the different tools I started understanding how everything works,
how all the films develop. After a while,
I just had so many tools that I knew how to make something look good.
This day, I don’t think I have talent,
I just have a lot of knowledge on me.
I’m the kid that didn’t have talent but made it through.
I’ve seen people do great things without knowing [the technical details],
they just have a good eye.
I know people who just know aesthetics.
[This is] what I did: writing down mentally
what is it that made it go “Wow!”
Because you can tear it down and analyse anything you do.
Even like having a conversation,
when before, i didn’t know how to talk to girls,
and I sat down and analysed it,
when to be funny, when to start being physical.
You can analyse everything. That’s what I did -
I analysed why something is “Wow!”,
why something did not [have the wow effects],
and then write it down.
I know that if I was doing landscape,
if I was doing wide angle and put it to the nearest ground level,
it’ll have this effect.
You sound like a film teacher
I’m used to it.
Now I have young people [working with me and]
I have no problem in teaching them what I know.
I did have this trauma when I started out,
they put me in the hands of a very experienced gaffer.
He said, “I’ll just give you a simple task.”
And then he turned to the producer and said,
“I want this kid out of here.”
He didn’t give me a chance.
So now when I see a kid,
I’ll try to give them every chance I’ve got.
Did you have good teachers when you first started?
I had several good teachers.
What were they like?
They were very technical but very human.
Film school teachers - they didn’t study how to teach,
they shot a lot and they ended up in a school.
They’re very human, they’re not like,
“Ok, this is a structured teaching.”
One of them cursed a lot, every 5 words.
He was so funny, but he knew so much!
He stopped working, stopped shooting,
but he just knew so much!
And it was important right?
Yah... He taught me... When I met him,
I thought it was just about technicalities of the camera,
and then I knew it’s just putting hearts to it.
He was very funny: everything he said just stuck.
You don’t have to study it twice.
Are Argentinians generally very funny people?
Why is that? Is it because of stress?
Maybe. If we just laugh at our funny situations a lot,
like Norwegians - they’re funny, and drink a lot.
The comedians actually have a funny accent.
Advice to everybody on life :
Most obstacles in life are excuses that you make for yourself.
There’s a saying in Spanish :
El que no arriesga, no gana.
El no ya lo tenes
2nd one is used for guys on women.
Literally, it means:
you already have the no.
If you don't ask her out, it’s the same as if she said no.
The other means, if you don't risk it you don’t win.
Are you a risk taker?
Not as much as I’d like to.
But it’s a good place to take risks [in NZ]. Coz it’s safe.
But I still recommend on LA. At least fail by trying.
“I already have the no.”
Don’t be afraid to be yourself -
I guess that’s cheesy
- even if you feel alone.
In Argentina, I thought I was weird [for] the way I thought about how life should be.
But then when I came here,
I realise everyone thinks the way I used to think.
Even if you’re not with the right people...
To give you a very stupid but simple example:
Everyone in Argentina judges everything.
It’s what I call a Poor Syndrome.
They want to show everyone what they do.
And they judge - clothing, for instance,
I just wear whatever I find.
I don’t know how to combine colors and I don’t care.
I just wear whatever’s comfortable and useful.
And a lot of [the] times people say I look like a hobo
and my clothing has holes on it. Here,
people dress like no one says anything.
There, people judge solely on how they dress.
I don’t know. I always found it weird that kids judge me on that shit.
You’re talking about superficiality.
The poorer the country is, the much more effective it is.
With exception of the U.S..
I haven’t been everywhere in the states,
but I know some people in television,
they love their bling, they love showing off.
And then you got the Indians, who love showing off.
Oh, and Jewish people. Don’t get me started.
Why are Jewish people like that?
They have a lot of money.
They love showing off.
Never lose faith in people.
I didn’t have much in Argentina.
At some point, I lost it here.
Then i gained it back with interest.
Do you think that horrible things happen so that you would regain faith in people?
No, shit happens.
Don’t judge. That’s important.
Difficult, but important.
"Love is an embrace."
Where did you come from? What brought you to Wellington?
I come from Acapulco, Mexico - very hot weather, right in the Pacific, south of Mexico. I come from a seven-member family. I’m the second oldest son.
I came to visit NZ in 2004, and then I stayed. I did not go back to mexico until 3 years later, in 2007.
My initial reaction towards Wellington was: “What the Hell, man~? This is Mexico upside down.” From chaos to order. From messy to organised. From mischievous to honest. Where I come from is more water and sand and palm trees. It’s green, but lots of sun, so bright, so hot. Over there is more of the sea - tropical feel. Here in NZ is more like nature, bushy, many many shades of green, and very very bluest skies. The sun is not very bright as the sun in Acapulco. It’s bright, but it’s different. The shade of the light, the texture of the light is very different. I know the difference between a sunny day in Wellington and a sunny day in Acapulco. There is a difference in the air. The sky looks kind of like bright blue. Here: more fluorescent. Acapulco sky cannot be so fluorescent. It’s a light blue. Here is intense. Over there is soft.
That was my first impression: Very green. A very peaceful and quiet place.
Did it feel too quiet at times?
Yes, at times, when I first arrived - can be too quiet. I got used to it.
What do you think about Wellington?
Wellington is great how it is. Wellington for the better would be: balancing the roads and the streets to the amount of people that have cars. And also, what can make Wellington better is, by some miracle, the weather can be sunny every day.
What about ... for bars to pay musicians better?
That’s fine. Everybody can do whatever they want and that’s fine. And so can I. I choose my niche and they choose theirs. And we live in harmonious disharmony. You work with the ones you can agree with and deliver your worth. That’s how I get rid of my problems.
How do you deal with problems and confrontations?
l love to talk face to face - communication, and [for] things to be settled. It’s important for us human beings to be informed, communicating how we feel, and also with a level of tolerance - always. Because you never know what goes on in the life of another person. Their actions might not be personal. So what i’ve learnt is, you also learn to agree to disagree, and be happy with that.
Define - and undefine - love.
I would define love as a basic understanding of love, of how everybody understands it. I assume most of us know love is a feeling you get in your chest, when you see or feel or hear something that creates that feeling of peaceful excitement, with the heart pumping. That’s love.
When you eat an ice-cream and you love it, or when you swim and you go into the water with that sensation, that’s love. Love is to feel happy.
Happy with something?
Being it material, a person, a sensation. Love is different for everybody. How I would describe personally love [is based on] how I understand my body and my emotions. Like right now, drinking chocolate, I love it, I say it because I feel it, my mouth is reacting and my body is reacting, and I’m happy. It could be linked to pleasure. It’s a lot of feelings at the same time. Pleasure, happiness, contentment.
Love is embracing. Embracing those feelings. Love is an embrace, is that bridge that connects things.
Now un-define love.
The universe; The cosmos; vibration; dog and owner; nature and mating; seasons; the birth of the star...Happy birthday, star! The birth of planets; spring. There’s probably seasons in the cosmos.
Yeah, seasons are the Earth’s way of loving itself and what’s on it.
Yeah....yeah... Far out...
Light; music: music is again vibration; Laughing: Laughing with tears; dancing.
What about pain?
Many of us have different perceptions of what love is. So therefore I can say love is the embracement of triggered emotions. Someone can say that they love pain. Coz love is greater, deeper, bigger.
Love is that crack where light comes through.
Where there’s love there’s pain and sadness. In the balance of reality, you can be stuck on love. You can get stuck in darkness and pain. Limbo pain. But not everybody can do that: getting stuck. Most people would have both. And people learn to know themselves, and they can decide or choose where to be.
So love is a choice.
Yes, it’s a choice. It’s like: the problem is not the problem, it is the way you’re looking at the problem, the way you’re reacting to the problem. Either make it worse or make it better.
Now that I can see the pieces together, I can see what you’re saying: pain leads to love, that’s like that little crack that you discover - to see the crack and let the light through. Boom!
Coz one who’s really unhappy is either so closed up on themselves, or lashing out on others.
I discover some of the behaviors of depressed person is a self-destructive behavior that’s almost unstoppable, and the person can look for any excuse to piss off people around them whether consciously or unconsciously. The result comes from that behavior is that people get further and further [when] they keep [up with] that attitude.
Tell me about how good it is to not be part of Jehovah’s Witness.
Best thing ever. There’s this guilty feeling 24/7. So no more: “Am I doing the right thing?” feeling. No more hiding. No more restrictions about who should be my friend.
Or what song you can sing.
Or who saw me with who, and when. Oh my God.
I was seen with my neighbors, Jewish or Catholic. I was [told to not continue] hanging out with people that I was not “supposed to; I was seen in the club dancing with this girl really close, and I was not supposed to; I was going on Christmas day as I was invited for a piece of cake and have to refuse for religious reasons; and then they offered me to sit and have a drink of hot tea which I accepted, I was just hanging out with them and I was told off. It was just sitting down at a table for Christmas, which has pagan origins therefore not Godly. Because well, Jesus historically wasn’t even born then. So reasons for their celebration is mundane.
All those things, I don’t miss them.
Was there anything positive?
Yes! Singing. Music. Public speech. That’s a great thing to teach someone. To communicate. Stage presence. Being able to actually be in the centre and have a speech about a subject, make yourself understood for an audience. I think that’s a good thing. As a musician I got all of those things from that - from Jehovah’s Witness: singing three times a week, speaking in public once a month, to 200 people.
Another great thing would be sharing. Community. With people that are not judgmental, people who are not frenetics, not lunatic. You find genuine, loving, giving people, caring. That was cool, because you can always count on them.
Would the world be alright without religion?
I think religion as a group of belonging by making it a brand - that’s wrong. Like: “Hey, I am Catholic.” “I’m a Jew.” It’s like “I am Puma”, “I am Adidas”. You’re just a T-shirt, just shoes. The separation of religions is wrong, I think we should have a common system of gratitude for things. A universal religion.
But isn’t that what every religion is trying to accomplish?
Yes, but according to their own [script]. That’s where it’s wrong. It’s a loop, it’s never ending. Certain religions condemn. Jehovah’s Witness condemns strictly Muslims and Catholics, Because they believe in the false God, and they’re lost, they don’t deserve their kingdom, they need to die, gotta be destroyed.
I read this primary [school] book [for children] about Muslims recently, about how Muhammad was converting everybody, and those that didn’t convert was chopped [to death]. When I was little, I was told that they follow the wrong God, they believe in Satan disguised as God.
So what do you see as the truth?
Truth I see it is: the world is chaotic. Religion found a way to exist. What’s supposed to happen. I think all human beings, we have such a vast difference of perspectives on what life is. We have a basic understanding. The minimum of one...we are creators, we created this reality, we created religion, war, planes, cities... All these things. There is chaos. It is chaos and you need to deal with it.
How should we deal with it?
Well, you create bubbles with people you love; [through] what you can do to change the world: go on a quest to change the world, you need to change your [own] world. You need to make your world beautiful and awesome so you can flourish and leave behind [something] for the next generation. And that is your contribution. If we wanna make a change we have to think in [terms of] generations. We can’t think [only] of ourselves, but what am I going to leave behind for people.
Think about all these different people. There are people who decide to be emo, to be vampires, gang members.,world leaders - and they just have the power of manipulate, blinded by power.
Imaging if you were Obama, Putin, or [one of] the Rothschild family. Can you imagine yourself in their shoes? No, [we] have no idea. We are so vastly different. We are positioned in many places, all of us, and we have to make our own reality in the best way possible and deal with the chaos that is around us, perhaps our little contribution will ripple and make a change. Our life is vast. Just contribute. Make it beautiful, as long as it lasts.
Even if it doesn’t.
Yeah, make it beautiful now.
I’m describing life in the city, how I see it as a city boy. But I believe that truth is found in nature, in coexisting with animals, trees, plants, insects. We don’t have to worry about religions or the Rothschild family [if] we live in nature, in harmony with birds, with seasons, with water, with the grounds... [then] life is so much better, more rewarding.
Our advancement in technology is too brain focused. You need to work on your heart your stomach, your balance, you feet. You know? like, feel the ground. Feel the vibrations, feel the sound.
In modern city life, we’re on the computer most of the time, car, microwaves, all these millions of things to do and get distracted with, advertising, marketing -- It’s fucking world war 2015. All of this would be great if for my nature to actually just focus on one thing, like planting watermelon or tending a coconut field - Getting familiar with something alive.
Well, what’s the next thing? Having cell phone attached to our skin. When are we ever gonna be ever alone? When are we ever gonna be [more] aware of life?
Where do you see yourself in 2 to 10 years’ time?
Somewhere in Australia, Europe or Mexico. Definitely travelling. That’s how I see myself: Moving around the world. I could be sailing, might be joining the Alternative Sailing Community.
I’m a skateboarder. I like the sea. I like dancing as well. Movement. Maybe I can build my own sailing community.
Tell me about the power of music.
Wow! I think it’s what keeps us alive. I think it’s what keeps the harmony of the universe in place. Vibrations, it’s healing: the vibration is what keeps it moving, consistent and together.
You are vibration, and I’m also a vibration .
Music is magic. Music has the ability to hypnotise, to take you out of your body; Music has the ability to take you back in time. You close your eyes and hear this song and you remember this experience in your life, so you actually travel back in time. Music touches your sensations,
It’s so abstract. Music is one we enjoy but cannot see (except on music sheets of course).
Yeah, man, that’s it. Music is the thing you can see through a receptor: through somebody dancing, through dust moving, through electricity. You can see shapes, sound working through water. It takes a form depending on which is the medium.
How do you communicate with music?
I communicate it through singing, dancing, an instrument - that’s how I connect with it.
I personally think that singing is so important. For everybody. For all human beings -- to open your chest and your throat, and inhale and exhale with that sound. I think, singing should be like a health-measure, to keep fit. Doctors and clinics tell you to keep running, [maintain] good nutrition, but they forget [to tell you to] keep singing, keep dancing. They suggest you to go to the gym, sign up with Les Mills. Fuck Les Mills. Sign up to a singing [or] dancing school. Connect to your body.
The power of music is happiness. It also brings sadness. It brings all the emotions. Music is so vast, the power of it embraces so much.
Just like love.
Just like love, exactly. I wouldn’t be surprised if music and love are the same thing.
I think that’s very fair. It is said that music is the sound from heaven and that ancient egyptians moved pyramid stones with sonic waves.
I believe that is true. I believe people should experiment with it. People should open their chest, it brings your breathing, your core to your centre. It’s like tuning: you fine tune your body.
What is your advice on life?
Just to remain open: open to positive things, open through the ups [and] downs of life, be open to go through them, open to be quiet, and be active; to be aware, to observe; to listen to your surroundings: the surroundings tell you how you are; and open to listen to people - the good things and bad things to say about you; to evolve, change for the better; be aware of who you are. And um...The world is a really chaotic and can be a hard place to live, and we can make it a loving place, through you and me.
Keep tuning in order to make yourself and everybody else happy. And the less is better. The simpler the better. The less friends to have around, the more time you have for them. You know? It can be more meaningful. Don’t worry about having lots of friends. Coz it’s just vanity. More quality.
We all have to go through a journey. Discover yourself. Learn from yourself. You are not the same you from yesterday, from a minute ago.
Be aware that we are gonna be apart, and to not be sad about parting, or afraid. Just embrace it, embrace our departure, and our journey towards departing. To be aware of that is important.
I know that most of the days, when you’re young, you think about death, but you don’t truly compute that we’re gonna leave. We ponder. You realise you have things to do, that tomorrow you [will] have disappointment, you plan your holidays for March and you never think you’re gonna die. Everyday we should live as if we’re gonna die, so we make everything meaningful and everything that we do meaningful.
Allow yourself to make mistakes, but forgive yourself, and forgive others for their mistakes, too. As you make your mistakes, you grow to improve, so do others. It’s easy to say, but if you do it enough you come to understand it. That’s how I come to understand it. How many things that could have done better. But don’t hold on to it. It’s important to learn forgiveness.
So powerful, forgiveness...One of the greatest virtues. And it’s also like, "I’m not bothered~".
Exactly. You feel resentment. If you keep it for too long, it starts to eat you up, because that’s a creation from your ego. It’s your creation, so you’re gonna feel it. But you’re gonna understand yourself, what you want.
Be aware of what you’re feeling, and do something about it. Meditate a lot. Empty your mind.
It’s important to look at yourself, look at your habits, look at what you’re doing, look at your reactions to words and certain experiences, how you behave in social settings and how you feel, how your actions are affecting your surroundings... Look at yourself and see whether the road you’re walking is contributing to your own well-being
And others. Exactly.
Keep on laughing. Laughter is so good. Laugh and laugh lots. If you notice that you haven’t laughed for a long time, make it happen. Bring it out. Laughing is medicine.
Be aware of your dose of singing, your dose of laughing, your dose of exercise, your dose of sex (if you can), you just got to make it happen.
And the only limit is [in] your head. If you do something without thinking, you’ll probably do it. But if you do something and think too much about it, and ask too many questions, it’s self-sabotage.
Be aware of self-sabotage. Choose to not self-sabotage.
What about family?
That is a funny subject. Life is funny. Life is so vastly different and surprising. Not everybody has the same understanding as family. Some people live with a family. Some people can’t live without the family. Some people love their family. Some people hate their family. Some people have to have a family coz they have no choice.
This is [a] personal subject when you talk about family. I think family is always gonna be that spiritual link: your mom can feel you, your dad can feel you, you and your brothers have that connection. There’s the gene[tic] connection, blood connection.
Whether you be with your family or look at your family that’s different.
I think it’s important to keep in touch, for closeness, for caring.
If we don't, it’ll be like chopping away our roots. Good luck for surviving.
Exactly. It’s my family. I will make the best effort. I always imagine myself with a family. I always imagine myself being really close to my children, be quite confident in communicating with them, be trustworthy, build that trustworthy relationship with them. It’s cool with some things, it’s always loving, it’s always understanding. If it’s hard it has a reason behind it. The reason is this. We’ll explain why it broke down. Not just a reaction with no background. Everything that happens needs to be grounded, and backed up by powerful and meaningful information.
So, mm, but I imagine like, being that, how do you say uh... Being that...inspiration, but also be playful.
How do you perceive time?
Wow! Time! This is my life subject!
Never understood time quite well. Never work with it quite well. Time is relative. Time doesn’t exist if we don’t measure it. Time is perception for each individual. It’s kinda important because we live with it, everybody’s understanding of time is seconds, minutes. Things we count. So in the modern world we have to be aware of time, and we have to work with it. If we accept time, we should work with it. Otherwise I would never arrive at this interview if I didn’t respect your time. If I choose to live here [on earth], then I have to live with it. That’s my journey which i’m trying to fix. I’m enslaved by it.
Everybody’s sense of time is different. For some it’s immediacy. For some it’s fluid.
But we’re programmed. To work, activities. 8 hour shifts.
And once you start sailing for example - do you think you’ll be able to gt out of that sense of time?
Hell yeah! But even when you work in the field, timing is important. Here comes the sun, it’s sunny, I need to keep my plant watered. It’s rain season now, I need to plant now. And then, I reap. So even if you’re out of the city, time finds you. It’s like, Hallo, you can’t get away, you have to exist with me.
So what is time?
Time is chance. How many chances have I got in this 1 minute. Realities.
That’s amazing. You’re saying there are multiple possibilities.
There’s already things in time like seasons, whether or not it’s already specified, but that doesn’t mean it’s time, it’s structure.
But timeless - say, that you live in a close environment, where sunlight is the device. And it’s day time every time! And there is plants and fruits, and there is flowers. So you live in a place where everything just grows! imagine this big field. Where section A there is spring, section B is autumn, section C there is summer, section D is winter. What happens to time? and there is the night area. So you can choose to be at night. What would happen then? that would be a crazy experiment. Imagine that world, imagine you are born in a world where you are born where you can choose. Or, today, I want snow. You just go to the section with winter.
We have to work with it in the best way possibles. For ourselves and others! It's always the same conclusion. We’re not alone. That’s the thing.
Would/Do you like to be alone?
No. I already have the choice to be alone. I would get bored. My doses of aloneness, I take those. And then I take a dose of playtime. They’re both important.
What would be your spirit animal?
I believe my spirit animal is a whale! Everytime I imagine a whale, I see myself in the water singing, “Wooooooooooooooooh!” I have this connection. I was singing the Argentinian national anthem like this big whale, in the middle of the sports stadium in Hamilton. And I felt that I was not alone. Since that moment, it’s been following me. So then, I see myself as that.
Yesterday, I was swimming, and I felt like a whale. Confidence in water, oh man, changed my life. So important. It’s like this fear, when I had this near death experience with an overdose, I saw my life going through, [I saw] myself when I was little... I had this trauma. And I decided that I should do meditation with my best friend at that time, and I didn’t tell her that I was traumatised, but I decided to pull out and dropped it with her, and I saw the panic and anxiety coming. As we were sitting outside the garden, I was panicking inside, but I decided to not give it importance. And I decided to not be afraid of not having control. I let go. Even if it could cost my life, I decided that if it was my time, it’s my time. And the moment that happened, I saw the anxiety, when I decided to not fear what’s happening, I felt I could hear, I could feel the ground, the trauma vanished, the trauma dissolved.
And then this new feeling of life came, and confidence, security, that the universe’s got you. For a purpose, there’s something else, something big, you’re back up. Boom. Again you’re not alone. So it’s the same thing I deal with the swimming trauma, I went there, and put myself in there, facing the fears on my own, and just go in, without fearing to die, or to have control, just go. Make it happen, make it work. Feel confident.
So my teacher asked me, “Why didn't you tell me about your trauma?”
I didn’t think it was important.
Message for the world - with three words:
I would say: love. It’s like, duh --. And then, forgive. And, laugh. Then there’s many words. 1 too many. And sing. Yeah. Instead of laugh. So, sing-laugh. Sing and laugh at the same time.
Don’t underestimate yourself.
Nor other people.
Or others. Don’t underestimate yourself or others.
You can book gigs and concerts with Carlos or Carlos' band for public and private functions via the contacting details below --
For updates on concerts & gigs: https://www.facebook.com/CarlosNavae
Rebecca:On the Foolishness of man, helping others, true wisdom, ego, the future ahead, GOD & real knowledge
I came here to resettle my life from a place of war. Finding myself in this country, you have challenges that you would not have in your own native country. And the environment changed, weather changed, staple food changed, language changed - I grew up speaking local pigeon English, but now I speak proper English here; friends change - I’m surrounded by my diverse group of friends from all walks of life.
We began in Auckland, only briefly, to get a familiar feel, get an idea. But since then, we’ve been in Wellington. I can’t imagine living in Auckland. Queenstown is nice. Wellington is home for now. I might move to Queenstown, I like Queenstown.
What do you love the most about Wellington?
The culture - diverse culture. I love food, and be able to walk down the city and have all sorts of different food that you can imagine: Asian, Indian, European, Kiwi. I always have my sense of relationship around food: to be able to talk and have a coffee, when you have a nice conversation in a relaxed atmosphere and exchange idea and share things you wouldn't have in strained situations. Being in the city, you have access to all types of food and cultures. That’s one of my favourite things about Wellington.
Do you have any future goals in mind?
You can’t really put a goal on life. But you just sort of go one day at a time, things you do everyday, things you do routinely. I want to continue to progress with the life that I have, better myself, support my community, inspire others, continue to grow with the Spirit in mind. Setting goals along the way that you can meet everyday, every month, every year, every season. Seasonably and routinely, be a deeper, greater influence to people around me, and also to communities out there. And that can happen anywhere you are. For what I do get in Wellington, I'd like to use that as a positive influence.
We live in a place where we can be the best we can be. I think using all of that: to help others who are perhaps not quite aware of how to access that, draw that from within themselves.
A lot of people tend to go far to find themselves, and that’s fine, I’ve done that too, I’ve travelled a lot to find myself. But I think I would like to teach people so that people realise that finding yourself really begins from within. Even when you're in a pit, a pit can become a paradise. Gold comes within yourself. You gain wisdom for how to use them. Wherever you are becomes the paradise to you. I would like to influence people, to help them stay content, to realise the state of contentment, by being around them - I’d like to be available - Be there for people.
When you travel afar, what [you] see and experience can compliment and become a greater influence in you.
I marvel at creation. Because I know where it comes from. I don't believe it’s evolution. I know where it comes from. It’s amazing: the whole idea, the whole concept. You kind of begin to conceptualise how great the Creator is. His great arms and power compared to what we toil at day after day... It’s just amazing.
The only real knowledge is the one God gives, and the only wisdom is the one God gives. Science is great. but it’s God who gives it to us.
How can men acknowledge that their knowledge is great? To think your knowledge is powerful is complete foolishness. Where did you get your knowledge from? Where did you start, where do you finish?
That’s why celebrities become so famous. Because people idolize them.
But human beings only go so far. We lose our connections with our being. Everything becomes meaningless. But when you’re connected with God, everything is meaningful. Even when you look at a bird. Everything is endless. And for people to abandon that wisdom, I think it’s foolish. How can you forego that for something temporary?
So, in the end, who is really foolish? People who believe in God or people who reject God? I can think that if you don't believe in God, it’s because you don't know Him. But when you know him...
What do you think about man's quest to conquer the Everest?
There’s two ways of looking at it:
You can conquer a mountain as in “I can do this.” It’s foolishness.
But okay, God is going to take me up this mountain, and God presents me challenges in life, for His glory, for His purpose. So then it’s not about personal glory, then it makes it so much more glorious.
But when it’s just about "you you you", I don't enjoy reading about people writing their own story. I don't want to read about "you you you". All I end up doing is follow you and idolize you. But if you tell me that you‘ve done this with God, here’s someone who’s done something through God. Then I look at that with encouragement. That whole "me me me" just doesn't appeal to me.
And this day and age, it’s like a bad perfume, that’s what the world’s come to be.
I think when we really connect with ourselves, really go deep - to find ourselves, remove the noise - it won't take you long to discover your Creator. But go deeper - because who you are is what God created in you, If we go deeper into ourselves, we see God.
Everything in this world is false: we have to create false things, it’s like technology, we have to keep advancing - it’s too dreary and burdensome. It’s really like a bad perfume that I don't want to wear or smell - I don't want my clothes to reek with bad smell.
When you discover who you are, you really find those things as rotten food in your mouth, when you pursue death. When you become a woman, you don't wanna choose friends who remain as little boys, little girls.
I think in time, the end in the Revelation is drawing closer and closer. You can see the Prophecy fulfilling everyday. As we grow closer and closer to it, people become more stubborn. But it also makes a lot of people become closer to Him. That’s why you see ISIS people have Christians slaughtered. But people will come to God in a way that’s so intense, so real, when facing their death, it doesn't matter - because you can't kill my soul. We die on this Earth but our spirit lives on. Things will get worse, even worse. But God is greater, things will get better. A lot more people will get in closer relationship with Him.
The 12 apostles did not die peacefully. What you have is to end in peace: you know where you’re going to be, what your life is going to be like. The flesh is fading anyway, so big deal that you’re gonna get persecuted. So pain is painless to them, it encourages you to carry on your relationship with God.
So unfortunately it will get worse. People who do come to God will have a real genuine relationship with God. You either have one with God or you don't. With prosecution, you will have a stronger relationship with God, so much stronger in you, so much deeper in you.
My moral for life is the word of God. Because it is practical, it’s spiritual, it is not faulty. If you find it faulty it’s because you rejected [it], it convicts you of things you should not be doing. So for me, my moral code is the Bible. I don't necessarily pick it up and go "oh wow, I’ll follow this." What is in the Bible will make sense to you, when other people may not through conviction; you find things that apply to you, you know how it sits in your spirit; and when you’re on the conviction, it’s hard to go against it. When God speaks to you in His word, it’s hard to go against [them], because it’ll be going against everything that’s who you are.
We are born in sin. It means that, until God calls us into salvation through His son, we don't have the spiritual understanding of who He is until He calls us into relationship with Him. That means we are inclined to sway away because that’s who we are. The son’s choice in the Book of Mark: He was genuine that He wanted to go live his life, and he was redeemed, and it’s the greatest story of Redemption. It’s beautiful because even though we stray, we have the opportunity. What's interesting about that is the adversary. Paul knows so many people who’d gone that way. He was so damaged that he thought, “there was no salvation for me”. It took interference [from] God for Paul to turn around.
God is greater, He will bring you back in such a great way that what Satan did before did not matter. What Paul did was so legalistic, but with grace - it's amazing how God works like that. People no, only God determines that. He’s able to do everything.
It takes faith: it takes trusting when you go on an air plane to go afar - you trust the pilot. How can trust towards God be so limited in men? That’s foolishness. Because what power does men have? I don't understand it when men come to so love themselves and money. Like after an 8 point something earthquake - do you call upon men or do you call upon God? God exists. We wanna keep indulge ourselves in our sin. Until impossible situations, man is foolish until God gives greater purpose for himself. Some of wonderful Christians who were once before atheists, and now they found God and how God has used them all these years of non-belief to make it so powerful - to make him commit to Life at last.
It’s all a blindfold that Satan, the adversary, put on our faces. We just work around believing in superficial things. It really takes God to remove that superficiality from our lives. And that’s what you pray for, so that they may have a chance to live a life that God wants [you] to live; and you pray for yourself - without being affected by them.
Manifestations of God is in his Bible. His words manifest in reality, in practicality. And it takes the Holy Spirit in you - the spiritual eyes - to see the manifestations. God is deep. God’s blessed us with knowledge, but there’s so much more to God.
When you meet God, you grasp how awesome He is, an amazing power that’s all Him. He humbles you by His presence. When you meet your Creator, you don't go “Hi!” You go,”Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!” You don't say it standing up. You just completely lose yourself.
For me, I've had these encounters in recluse. God is not loud. The devil is loud - but he is very subtle - He’s not the horned, red devil: He came to Adam and Eve, God said, "you shouldn’t eat that but...” So he’s very subtle. God is very quiet, very soft. And all you know is “Wow...Wow..Wow...” I would take the moment and just thank Him. The first thing came into mind is pray, pray. “Thank you.” He’s with you and He manifests Himself.
I don't imagine the Buddha appears to people, or for whatever belief system. But I've passed the stage of criticizing people. At the very start, I was so raw, so “Wow!” I was quite wowed! You know? But He refines you, pushes you to the far. I’m getting to the stage now where I’m more sympathetic with people. When I see situations where people point their fingers, I just pray for them, pray for leaders in the world. It’s good to let them know what the Bible says, but at the same time, you need to ask God for his power, to grant power to guide them. And also you need to pray for protection for God’s power so you don't become affected by them.
What would you do when you encounter an antagonistic atheist?
Everyday, every morning, I pray for God’s manifestations. I study the Word so that gives me background information and knowledge. Whoever I encounter, wherever God wants to reveal them, it happens. What I know is not my idea, it’s what God wants. My duty is to read His words, study His words, pray to Him, and the way He speaks to me is different from how He will speak to them.
The worst of evil is when you believe what you’re doing is right. Religious evil begins with ourselves. When you don't read the Bible with the Spirit, it’s applied in the wrong context. And the story goes on and on.
God has used me in terms of His change in me and refining me. So what comes out of me is more of Himself and less of me. I see that, as a person, He uses me to be supportive, affirmative, prayerful, in so many ways that I myself would not do as nearly, in ways I would not pursue in the past. I see Him using me in a positive light. And it’s nothing to do with me, I don't say “I...I...I...” It’s not me, I'm not capable. Narrowly, I'm quite selfish and self-absorbed. But with Him it’s like a great weight lifting off your shoulder. It’s really burdensome to carry “Me, me me”.
When He moves in you, you really don't think about “I, I, I”. Your language changes, He honours you, because you’re in a much better life than you’ll ever be.
Beauty is repugnantly ugly. But when He comes in and beautifies you, it really becomes more beautiful than ever. If you look into the mirror, you really just make yourself tidy. Wherever God takes me now, amongst people close to me, I think His light is the light that sees, His liberation is the light that feels. He touches them in me, through me.
The source of any strong idea, anything meaningful, is God. But you have to be willing to want that, as opposed to man-made idea about what is good. It doesn't mean that you'll have to become someone that reads the Bible. It can be wherever he uses you: It can be a street-fighter, someone in the entertainment world, someone in psychology. Wherever He uses you, God can use you greatly in that area. It’s just allowing Him from within to come in, and fill in all those gaps that you try to fill, that none of us can fill.
It’s not just a life of mediocrity, it isn't. All of us have been given gifts, when it comes to relationship with God. It sounds nice to hear someone sing, it sounds nice but when you sing with God, it’s like a mountain has been broken down. We become greater if we allow God to come in and release His glory. God glorifies us by revealing Himself through us. And that’s the greatest life you could ever live. Who would ever consider Paul mediocre? Or Moses that led the israelites mediocre? Or Josh that led the army? Or King David? Or Abraham at his age? They wouldn't be considered mediocre if they had a force behind them.
What makes you happy the most?
Music; when I dance; when I achieve success in something that I do at work -- I love my job -- when I hear the girls saying to me, “I passed my exam! Thank you very much for training me!” It makes me happy. “Mission accomplished! Yes!”
I do have a big part of my life and that is dancing: A nice song, having a good connection with the person I’m dancing with, close my eyes, have a good time. Listening to songs just takes me away, it’s just in here - my entire soul is absorbed, I can imagine myself dancing. And because of the lyrics of the song, the rhythm and the beat - nothing can attain me,
Now, capoeira is a really big part of my life: it can make me sad and happy, because it’s so important to me that I care so much! When we had a great class, and if I was not in a super good mood when I arrived at class, as soon as we started doing the Ginga - the fact that all the students were in sync in their movements, and the music was so loud - you get into the trance. I had that moment and that look on my face, that I was happy! And when we do the music class, when the energy of the music is good and instruments are pumping, that just makes me happy.
So I guess, overall - music!
If I think of work, it’s all about the visual -- if I see something, I’ll do it. But audio -- it’s very important. For our capoeira classes, we say: “Teach as if to do the blind.” What you say have to make sense even to people who can’t see. I do believe that in the artistic world, people will understand something when they look at it. With capoeira as well, you gotta look at someone, see how it’s done. But the audio is more in the music, the trance. I call it a trance because when I listen to music, such as salsa or any dancing music - it is music that equals moving my body to it. As I’m moving into the music, conscious of only certain parts of the body and what the body is doing, but I’ll be completely unconscious of what’s around me.
Capoeira can be a big exercise. We have been training quite militarily, trying to get our resistance up, sometimes try to continue without even water. If we end up in a game in which we can’t last, we’re going to lose our focus. At the beginning of the class, we’d do 10 minutes of movements, then for 45 minutes from the time we start, we’ll be moving the whole time. 45 minutes later, which is usually after 10 songs - 6 songs if we’re lucky - we’ll repeat the same kick, and then do another kick, and another kick... So many that at some stage, your body’s sore and painful, but you also have the birimbao and the instruments pumping so loud around you, you have so much echo in the room, at some stage, you’d only hear the music, steps, people counting, their heavy breathing. And all you can feel is the breathing, plus the pain; and you want it to stop, you pray for the music to finish, but then you don’t even care if the music doesn’t finish - you’re gone - you’re beyond the pain, you become stronger - it doesn’t even hurt anymore, you can’t feel the pain. Afterwards I would think to myself: “Oh my god, I love capoeira, it’s so good!” That makes me happy! It’s so satisfying, I can’t explain it. Salsa - I miss it, but capoeira is probably why I haven’t danced for such a long time. I’m absorbed in capoeira, I love it, it's so good.
We do take things for granted. We take our master for granted. We would complain, “Oh it hurts... He doesn’t care... It’s painful...” But when we went to Australia for the congress where he was the invited as the guest, Pererez did a workshop where he trained everyone that way. And for us it’s normal. and he was quite kind: the song wasn’t too long. At the end of that song, he told us to keep our breath - which is lucky - we don't get to have that usually to keep our breath. And because of the way Pererez was answering questions that were asked to him, people looked at him like “He’s great!”. So I thought: Don’t take him for granted. Because of it, even when injured, I would still go to class - because I respect him. That’s why I would feel bad if I can’t live up to his expectations.
I hated the capoeira uniform, I don’t ever feel comfortable in it. But now, everytime I put my abada on - the capoeira pants that hold the belt - I’m proud, and I’ll be like, “Right! Let’s do this!” It’s not just what I wear - it has meaning to me. It’s no more my master is also my flatmate, it’s “He is my master”, and I’ll just say. “Yes, Master”. Sometimes I may feel like it’s unjustified, but I know he’s the one with the knowledge. If it’s “Yes”, it’s yes; if it’s “No”, it’s no - it’s his rule, it’s his castle. When I go to class and put my abada on, I give honor to what he says.
Now, for the next question...
The answer is Chocolate! Hahaha
What do you think of Wellington?
Do you really wanna get me to talk about Wellington. It’s gonna be 5 million interviews.
Wellington: it’s home. I’m planning on leaving it, and I will come back. But the truth is, you never know. I’m scared that I’m gonna miss Wellington. Coming here, I became who I am. I was a teenager when I came. (I’m still a teenager.) I had to open a power company, look for apartment, sign a lease - I’m out of my parents house, now I gotta go for it. I learnt a new language here. English wasn’t very easy.
But it’s also that in Wellington I never felt alone. When I went back to France. it was ok, but I was really glad when I came back here. People are so friendly here. My first friend was Avi, Lloyd Jones’ son. And I remember when I first met Avi, we met on Valentine’s Day. We met at Reading Cinema at the food court. He gave me the NZ big hug. I was still more French then than a Kiwi. Kiss kiss, “la bis” we call it. Avi and I were walking around... He was so open minded, so open to meet someone. He was one of my uncle’s friend’s wife’s cousin. I think he was coming back from travelling. Because we were of the same age, my uncle suggested, “Oh you should meet him!” I used to always say, “Sorry my English isn’t very good.” I was not so sure of everything. But it makes me laugh when he said, “Well, you speak a lot for someone who doesn’t know English very well.” Haha!
At the time I was saving so much money: I didn’t know anyone so I would stay home in the weekend. I would visit friends in Australia, I had friends in Bali so I went to visit them... And my best friend came, so we went to Fiji... The Flight Center agent used to call me the Jet Setter: I used to walk in and say, “Hi, I want to go to Bali next week... I want to go to Fiji next week...” Then I started to look for salsa stuff. I was missing dancing. I started meeting people, and that’s it, I had my salsa crew. My first good friends here were Robin, Robert... I did apply to go to Australia to go work there before I joined the salsa community. If it wasn’t for them, I would have went and worked in Australia.
I felt really lucky. I was doing so much stuff. When I went home, I saw all my friends - we were still doing same old, same old - and I missed my friends in NZ. I wanted to go to Salsa Drome, I wanted to go get dumplings, have bubble tea, go out on Sundays and go shopping, go to supermarket at 10pm - in France I couldn’t do that. I wanted to just walk down the Terrace, if I feel like it, and go to the market... and see the sea! I wanted to look at the sea on one side, and on the other side, look at the hills! Have the blue and the greens...
Having lived in NZ, I found Paris so beautiful. The city was dirty but, I found that for the first time, I paid attention to things when I went back there. I’m more aware, since I’m in Wellington, about the environment, and nature, about how everything we do affects it. People are a bit more conscious here. It’s nicer, feeling less threatened by the foreign, I became so open-minded here. I have friends from China, India, Brazil, Mexico... In France, you have people from overseas, but I haven’t been exposed so much before in France.
I love the size of Wellington. I love that there’s lots of things going on. Even though now I tend to do less things socially, I go out less; I’ll go to the same places, enjoy doing the same things.
It’s definitely people that I love. The easy way... chilled out... And the Sunday Market: I love going to the Sunday Market and walk all the way to Oriental Bay and back... And there’s always these little tiny restaurants and cafes everywhere.
It’s also that I’m having less regiments. When I arrived, you would not make me go to KK Malaysia for food. It doesn't look dodgy to me anymore, but I would never go to Newtown restaurants. The other day when I was driving through Newtown, I was like, “Aw my little Newtown...”
Just being nice to people is what changed for me as well. When I went home, at the supermarket, when I was paying the bills, I asked the lady at the cashier, “Hey, how you doing? How’s your day?” And the lady was like I was asking for her purse! And even my best friend was like, “Why the fuck did you ask that?” Here, we would be like, “How’s your day? How you doing?” We would just ask simply, “How’s your day?”
Wellington - so many stuff! Professionally, I became a more independent hairdresser. Although I learnt in France where I was a senior stylist doing things on my own, but I just came out of school. Here, I was really senior. I worked and gained lots of experience. As a teacher, I am able to work in the artistic team in the best merchandise chain. I have a good spot, I have to say. There may not be any moving further up. In that role, it’s the role. You could become the manager and work at the head office, but I’m not someone who would work in the office. I don’t want to deal with being a boss. Now I think, actually, I would love to have a business and make good money - you just need to be taught, detach the artistic, the emotional, the doing... See? I’m getting there.
Wellington has helped me appreciate me as myself, as me! Actually, I think I’m fucking awesome! Hahaha! And it’s not been an easy journey. I made good encounters, good friends - real friends. I know that there will be people, with whom, if I go and come back in 10 years, we never know where we’ll be, and I know there’s that bond and it’s quite strong. I don’t just consider these people my friends. it’s my family. There are people who know me more than my family, than my friends in France, who became different people. I became more of a woman here, and more confident with myself - on the professional side, social side, relationship side... It was hard - I learnt so much. I met so many people that are so amazing. So many!
I learnt how to do nothing as well in NZ, which is hard. I need to be socially involved with people. If people don't hear from me, I feel restricted sometimes. Now I enjoy times with myself - hard, but getting there.
Yeah...I just met amazing people, and doing stuff with them, enjoying walking up the hill and see the sea, and just chilling, just sitting on the bench at Oriental Bay... I got my Spanish back. I met capoeira. Capoeira met me... Yeah, just incredible people. Even French people as well, with whom when we went back home, just hanging out, it was so cool! Just connecting with people, just feeling like I belong to a group and we belong to each other. And I’m gonna miss them very much.
I love Scopa and Duke Carvell’s hot chocolate. I love Oriental Thai. I love the bathroom downstairs in Museum Hotel. I love just walking around Wellington. Embassy theatre - how beautiful is that movie place! I love the film festival - so much going on! I love when, right, I’m gonna go to that party next week, and I have nobody to go with me but I don’t care, coz when I go, I know all the people there. (But sometimes Wellington’s too small...) Bohemian said to me the other day, “Always arrive fashionably late and leave fashionably early.”
The more I’m thinking about Wellington, the less I want to go home to Paris.
Sandy has moved back to France, and is now living in Paris.
She is still dancing.
He aha te mea nui? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata. (Maori)
What ranks as the highest in my appreciation for the world is people.
It is people that uphold my love of life itself.
Humans have created wondrous civilisations which leave behind monuments of deep, ancient cultures - full of beauty and wisdom that inspire awe;
Humans have also demonstrated an incomparable ability to pave a path of collateral damage, self-destruction, unsustainable lifestyle, bottomless gluttony, downright deceitfulness, heartless cruelty, lies and manipulation that turn into constant chaos.
Still, it is the people, it is the people, it is the people that make this human life worthwhile.
It is the people that eternalise the brevity of my mortality, stretch the memory of a moment to an infinite afterglow, awaken a pursuit of the greater and better good that I believe is in all of us.
This is a collection of friendly wisdom. I claim no truth. For I don't think I know better than anyone else. I’m no writer, so I collected stories gathered from a mere sample of the best people I know, who don’t mind sharing them. They appear in this book because they were willing to contribute, to share with you their feelings about life in this world. And I was lucky to have been able to get in touch with them, listen to them, be in awe by the person-hood they had each revealed.
The conversations for this project unravelled stories I would have never gotten to know, had there not been this setting that allowed me to hear them talk -- about what’s most personal to them, and what's closest to their hearts. I wish I could listen to all my friends share each of their visions and worldview.
Fact is, everyone has untold wisdom, and lots and lots of stories to tell.
Even the most foolish ones, even the most troubled.
I don’t possess smart sarcasm, nor the quality of cunning cynicism to undervalue any single soul.
For I find, even with the people I’ve gotten to dislike the most, disrespect and despise a lot - they are the very ones who have helped me grow, taught me the most, by hurting me unknowingly, or provoking therefore awakening an important part of myself. I would have liked to, talk to them, and thank them. For there is so much to learn through them.
My friends, on a positive and inspirational level, are all people who love loving people, are all trying to create the best for people, and continuously fight to build the world they have envisioned.
My friends, just like yours, have all lived through great ups and downs - such a short sentence, yet it comprises so much unseen tears, frustrations, heartaches, untold struggles.
They are such respectable beings. I honor each of them - for being the people they are today, for having fought hard as soldiers of life in the past, as they will continue to do in the future. I love them more, and feel honored by them - for having known them and being their friend - having been in the audience seat and hear them talk.
I know you too have many a friends whom you love, and respect, with all your heart. And I hope, in the years to come, you will get to know them more and better, and in so doing, appreciate them more and better.
There are many common threads I found in all of the talks I’ve shared with my friends.
People are all in need of help
(And I think, you should especially pay attentive care to those that are always trying to help others out);
The evermore battle for a real life - a life that is full of meaning, truth and health - against the one that is far worse off, faked or compelled;
Depression - a darkness that hides behind the widest and brightest smiles, either abused as an excuse for unhealthy choices, actions and lifestyle, or completely undetectable or unknown, even to family members, close friends or acquaintance;
Resistance - to an established system, or a system of thinking/living/being;
The ever-insatiable desire to travel. - And it is only natural.
For we naturally yearn to feel fully present as a small but important part of the bigger, wider universe; we are born to experience life in the truest realm of living - as a being in nature; we are alive in order for us to learn, and engage better with our fellow earthlings in this beautiful home called Earth;
And last but not least: the love of people: regardless of their identity or circumstances.
One important thing that everyone pointed out is the need for people to talk to each other.
The interface over internet technologies, & the ways of materialist lifestyle, altogether form barriers that shield us from gaining true human contact, and forming deep connections with each other. But we know that it is the physical interface with each other that paints our lives with palpable colors of happiness that can truly fulfill us deep down.
So please, talk to each other.
Even if some are not inclined to.
Talk to each other more -
on a personal level and as equals.
Learn from each other, and learn from anyone at all.
Continue savouring this world.
What a paradoxically perilous & wonderful place it is afterall.
For life is not about how much money you earn, generate, accumulate, save, brandish around, or, let’s put it plainly: hog.
It’s about by what proportions, with whom, and how you share, and define your wealth.
Care for one another.
Make a habit of expressing your love: in the best way you know how.
Do the things you must do today now.
Don’t delay what’s really important till tomorrow,
when it might turn into a regret for a long time to come.
I was born in Iraq under SADDAM’s regime. My parents were married for 6 months by that point. They had been dating for about 8 years. They knew each other at university. They were very different.
In Iraq, dating is a big thing. Even if there’s someone you like and would like to marry, you don’t openly hang out with each other. But they were hanging out with each other; everyone knew they were together. So in a sense they were different.
They left Iraq when I was 7 months [old], to come to NZ under the Point System. People who have a degree in engineering, or any field, they can apply to come over and be a resident. So my dad was able to get us here. And they were a young couple as well. That did mean we were away from my family.
I started meeting my family when I was 17. I had an auntie in Christchurch, I met her. My dad had a cousin that came too, they were best friends, and his kid was my best friend. I didn’t get to meet my mom’s side of the family. She’s really close to them, and she remembers stories of them. I kind of feel isolated, deprived of what I could have had in terms of family.
I always knew I was different, ever since I was in day care. We would have face painting at daycare, I would be first in line; the kids would push me to the back, tell me what characters to be. I never felt like I fit in. That difference was always really at the forefront of my mind: My mom had a head scarf. I always knew there was some sort of difference. Half of it was people really did treat me differently, the other half of it was I was paranoid in a sense. I think a lot. I stand back and observe.
I do think my family background does have a lot to do with it. The fact that there are differences out there, I’m aware. I don’t let it stop me from doing things and alters the way I experience it.
I have two upbringings - in my family and out of my family. I had two different lives. They didn’t battle each other, I’m good at picking out good things, the good values that I like, and challenging the way my family thinks and the society thinks as well. But, for example, weed, I just don’t get it -- That’s because of my upbringing. Sometimes you crave coffee, or you want a taste of coke; but then ‘let’s go out for the end goal of getting drunk’ -- I try to understand it, I just don’t.
It’s also a social thing: Let’s go get some beer.’ Or ‘Catch up over some coffee.’ And no one thinks about it. How are we so used to this routine that no one questions the stuff that happens in their day to day lives?
[I question] everything. Which is funny. People say, ‘Why do you say that?’ Coz I’m a Muslim.
My parents, my mom especially, really encourage that behavior in me. By the simple fact that I always ask questions, like asking who is god. That’s human nature. god gives us brains to use, we’re not in trouble
I want to work for NGOs. To make the world a better place, you have to hold people accountable, help people who have no voice, help them practice it in court.
[A lot of countries] go to third world countries and dictate. Who’s to say the end goal is to have a free market? Having a dialogue is important. I would like to think what I live by is having a dialogue. I will never go from what I’ve observed and jump to conclusions. I guess I expect other people would do that with me. I think it’s human nature for people to judge. I hope I’ll get to a point where judgement will happen but they won’t act on that judgement.
Globalisation is a big factor.
Last year, I thought, ‘Globalisation sucks. it’s all about this capitalist agenda.’
[But one day when] I was talking to my best friend at a get together, the guys in her family, they’re really opinionated, and they really like having discussions like they know everything. She said to me:
“You have to get into these discussions. If you don’t say anything, they’re gonna think you’re dumb. I really want you to show them they are the one that are dumb.”
So I was telling them about my life, and that [here in NZ], I don’t think I even fit into any group. One of the guys said,
“Yeah, you shoulda just stayed in your own country.”
Yeah, perhaps a lot would have happened if I stayed, but, I clicked, this is what globalisation is all about. You can’t say something is completely bad. If I stayed in Iraq, who’s to say if bad things wouldn’t happen.
That’s what I wish as well, that people would just let people live.
I wish people could be happy and let each other live.
Someone always thinks they know best or whatever.
Even with countries. you know. At the end of the day, as long as people respect each other.
Just because someone is religious, it’s not like they’re going to be perfect.
I wish you could just let me be me.
There’s a lot of things to do with my identity.
But I wish people stop picking on their religions.
For me, religion is about a person and their relationship with God.
There’s no third person involved, not even my parents.
I think you can be religious and gay, it doesn’t matter. Let them be! But if that person thinks that’s ok, and they got that religion, and they have that conversation with God, let them do it! At the end of the day, you have no say to what happens to them.
My goals are too big. I feel quite overwhelmed a lot of the time. I’m quite sensitive, I just cry so much. I don’t care about “Ooooh, she said this about me” or whatever. When I was a kid, you know those world vision advertisements - [when it comes on] I would cry every single time [watching it]. And they come up a lot! [It got] to a point I would have to change the channel.
Laws [that] are [currently] in place [in fact can] disadvantage the third world countries. For example, the patent law, [with which] they can’t get medicines to help with aids coz they dont have the money [to procure aid medicine].
[Our] lecturer [once] showed us a picture of this girl is curled over and bare-boned, and right next to her is a vulture waiting. He put the photo up, and all of a sudden I was just like, “Urgh---” I just get so affected by it. He said, “I have this photo at my desk at home, just to remind me why I do what I'm doing.” [He told us that] one day his 4 year old daughter came in, [she saw the picture and] she said,
“Daddy, what’s wrong with this girl?”
“Why doesn’t she eat?”
“Coz she hasn’t got any food.”
[Then] she came in and put a banana under the photo. The next day, she said,
“Daddy I think the girl put on weight.”
People harden up. I pray that that’ll never happen to me. Like my family, someone’s going to die, they’re not even sad, because it’s too common. Growing up in a world with wars, they grow used to it. [But it is always a comfort to think] that they don’t suffer any more .
I used to have only anger in me. Every emotion I had would turn into anger, that the world is like this, that people were doing this and nobody came to help. One day my best friend came, and really helped me get over that. She broke it down to the core. I always had the sensitive side to me, I never showed it. I guess in a sense, I still don’t, with certain people.
I describe depression as the deepest deepest deepest point of the ocean, and you can’t breathe - [looking] at the dark dark blue, you can’t see anyone, and you can’t see anything. I describe the feeling as exhausted - so exhausted. When you think you’re getting better, and envision yourself getting the strength and are swimming up, but still can’t breathe, and you can see other people around - they can breathe just fine, but you can’t, and you sink to the bottom.
The way I describe anxiety is: Assume you’re afloat, you swim to the top, and then you’re like, “My gosh I can breathe!” But suddenly someone pushes you under the water, and it becomes a struggle to [get back to the surface again].
I can’t stand people that complain. Don’t just do nothing about it. There’s something I always complain about: the world, but I [will in] no way just sit and do nothing. I saw recently a quote: If you’re not on the side of the victim, you’re on the side of the oppressor by doing nothing.
I know what I wanna do, opportunities will present itself. I was telling my friend, I don’t know what it is in development i want to do. I volunteered in Thailand for a month teaching English. I found good things and bad things - More bad things. People pay money to volunteer, really they just wanna see rural Thailand. I don't regret it at all. if I hadn't done that, I wouldn’t have known what’s good, what’s bad. Even with this [volunteering in one of the islands] thing, maybe I’m not getting it. I’m just taking it as a learning experience.
I was always sad person. In my final year of high school, you know how you would write those farewell notes and say what impression you have of this or that person, every single person described me as happy.
-"Yeah, you always come in as a happy person."
That’s what I project, I don't want anyone else to be sad, I don't want to burden them. It’s not a nice feeling. There are so many people that so sad.
Advice to everyone -
It’s really cliche but: What doesn't’ kill you makes you stronger.
It’s never too late. There’s always a time when you can come to a realisation of something. You just have to work at it.
I would never ever judge. Whatever happens, happens. I don't think you’re a bad person, I don't think I’m better than anyone, but I’m here (when you need me).
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far in life?
Be a good person and stay true to yourself.
You know when I cry when things gets too much for me, the one thing I keep repeating is 'Why are people so mean?' I just want people to be happy and nice to one another. Be happy. Be nice -- don't be mean to people.
Sue: on the importance of a sense of family Honor, her enjoyment of doing useless things, harmony, humility, directness & efficiency of Chinese culture, toleration in NZ & words to parents and future generations
Who do you respect the most?
Myself. If it’s other than myself, it would be my mom.
If it’s amongst all people, I still respect myself the most.
I’m righteous, benevolent, truthful,
a good person with a good character.
Out of the people I know, I respect myself the most.
What do you like the most about yourself?
Under whatever circumstances, I never give up,
I’m benevolent, righteous.
I would not do something that will harm others.
That is the preliminary criteria for being human:
it is not to think of oneself first.
This is very important, it needs to be written down.
Under what circumstances should you overlook your principles?
That is when your righteousness might inflict harm on somebody else,
then you need to compromise.
I can never lie, but I can choose to be silent.
This is the compromise, it’s not betrayal.
Certain principles cannot be unfollowed.
(But) really, what do I like about myself?
The most useless part (of me).
It is not certain qualities of my person out of which you can get anything.
Now at this stage of life I am probably more confident.
Now I want to read useless books, do some useless things --
things that do not make any money,
read some books with leisure, have some conversations at leisure.
[I've learnt to] find and realise the good out of something unpleasant.
I quite like that I never give up.
I may stop doing something.
But at the bottom of my heart the most important thing is that I never give up.
I think not being selfish and being kind is very important .
Thinking this way I feel I have a lot of lovely sides.
I feel I am really loveable!
What kind of people do you dislike the most?
I especially despise those who belittle or look down on other people.
The worse a person is, the mors you can learn from them.
Bringing up a person is like planting trees.
Cut away the random little branches & you’ll become a good person.
Everyone has different talents, everyone has their faults.
Just like allowing trees to become useful as timbre,
all the little branches that need to be cut away are a result of selfishness.
The further the faults grow in to the tree,
the more I would cut it away for you.
So you’ll become straight.
And any lumps of bad growth will be small and never reach your heart.
If you have too many random little branches,
then you’ll never become useful.
Even the cutting away of little branches can be painful.
If I’m a real friend I will cut them for you.
My real friends are few.
They are the ones that need to accept me.
One cannot harm other people.
If you’ve hurt me, I would tell you, that this is not good.
But no matter what you do in life,
you’ll also always be punished for the mistakes you’ve made.
Why is it that you respect your mother the most out of everyone else?
I’m not as brave as my mother.
My mother would do things I can never do.
In those times, in that environment - of the 60s,
China was not a bit opened up to the world.
Our ways of thinking were purely based on traditional conventional customs.
At the time, when my mother and father were still dating,
my dad’s brother’s daughter died of starvation.
My dad took my cousin in, and other people would gossip about it:
“You have an 8 year old at your home and you aren’t even married,
and it’s not even your child” sort of thing.
Both children of my uncle’s eventually were sent to my mom’s,
because after my uncle passed away, his wife remarried,
and my mother took in both of their two children.
It was difficult enough at the time with us three children under my mother’s wings.
Even if you were wealthy, you wouldn’t even be able to buy stamps,
because each person was only allocated with 2 Liang (unit of measurement for weight) of oil, etc. under the Communist practice of ration.
But my mother would take in two more children,
who eventually grew up with us in our home.
(So when sometimes) we went to buy vegetables,
people would end up starting a fight for food.
My mom was petite, but she would walk up
and pull the people in arguments apart with her own strength.
I would not even attempt that.
My mom worked in the bank taking care of accounts
and working as a teller.
But some people that worked there would think
a few cents taken for personal or banks’ use from customers
wouldn’t make much difference when they were on the job.
My mother would say to them,
“That is not right.”
In order to prove that a few cents accuracy does matter,
she would stand there, keeping count.
Those days, people like my mom
earned just about 37 Yuan per month of salary.
But in a day, she would total ￥80 or more
from withholding customers’ change.
After she’d gathered enough evidence,
she went to speak to management at all the banks and related stores,
pointing out that "[Doing things] this way,
you would end up eating up lots of money,
that is corruption."
My mom then asked for lots of coins,
and dispatched them to all the branches,
making sure that the workers would pick out the exact amount
to return it to customers’ accounts.
So she not only cared about this,
she also made the effort to do the investigation.
When it came to China having a policy change
and began having democratic elections,
my mom won full votes from all staff members,
she was the only person that voted for someone else.
I can be as righteous as she is.
But I cannot do things with as much bravery as she did it.
And I feel that my mom is brave
because she never thought about herself.
I feel, and I fear, that I would always think of myself.
I would not be as great a person as my mom is,
nor would I be as vigorous at what I do as her.
My mother perhaps did not have a life of her own.
I think a person like her is worth writing an ode to and shedding tears for,
like we would for heroes.
And I very much respect mother’s heroism.
My mother would often be betting blind,
and then she really win the game afterwards.
kindness, righteousness, courage,
seems that I inherited those qualities from my mother.
What about your father?
My father is really intelligent!
Knows how to do anything! Too intelligent!
I feel that, in China, probably because of the culture, that there results a distance between the father and the child.
Their influence is less than the mother’s on the children.
My father is very righteous,
and he would never bend his principles under any circumstances.
Because of this, he didn’t live a very easy life.
He was always doing righteous things.
It makes me feel that his EQ is a bit low.
Because my mother chopped away all the faulty little branches from me,
it is from my mother that I learnt most things in myself,
when in fact I’m pretty much a copy of my father.
My father never puts his nose in other people’s business.
My father at the time was against taking in his brother’s children.
Especially when, to him, they were no longer carrying his family name,
and that we were really short of food to feed ourselves at the time.
My father was rational about things.
He would consider all things,
which means his kindness must have a sound basis,
with reasonable conditions.
My mother is really the unconditional kind.
She would take on anything and take in anything.
Now that I think about it,
it is perhaps that my mother had a lot of Chi in her kidneys.
Ever invincible, forever victorious.
What changed since you moved to New Zealand?
There are no essential changes.
On the surface, I have more freedom to be myself.
Being here gives me an environment where I do not need to worry about other people’s opinions.
So externally it’s not the old external self now.
Realistically I am still the same within.
In China I always lived in the lab.
I could quietly be myself in the lab.
There were no ‘time for being a mom’,
no ‘time for being a wife’.
My identity was simply and solely -- a worker.
Here I have a household of my own, time of my own disposal.
Everyday I play the wife, occasionally the mom.
If I have to say anything that has changed,
it would all be on the surface level.
I just feel freer, I can be myself:
At leisure, free, and of myself.
If there is anything that has changed,
it is that I’m not nearly more than 10% of what I used to earn [back in China as the head of two departments],
but, everything I buy brings me more happiness,
I’ve learnt to enjoy the simple things more,
such as when I’m working in my garden.
New Zealand has a good level of tolerance towards the multicultural presence and the values that must follow.
It is very important that NZ has such a forbearance,
so that NZ can continue to develop.
Particularly for a lone island:
without immigrants, it is just a lone island.
Us immigrants become the bridge for NZ to the rest of the world.
Some Kiwis may not have realised that.
Despite their mental denial of others’ cultures,
they (New Zealanders) would still never utter it out loud.
For their careful diplomacy,
they never express anything bluntly.
Whereas in China,
you encounter times where
you would become disappointed
by the people you love,
become depressed because of your own family,
(especially) of your parents.
Kiwis should feel very lucky,
because their parents may never demand something of them that would hurt them.
What are your views on early childhood education at home?
I have given my child freedom,
ever since I became a mother,
I’ve given my child opportunities to make independent choices.
I would list out the possible outcomes from each option,
but I had never imposed anything on my child,
which pretty much makes my child the luckiest child of China.
I would have hopes, I would express myself,
but I would never impose anything,
nor had I ever forced anything.
Everyone goes through a stage
where others try to stop you from making mistakes
while you would always think you’re right.
Every parent is like that.
[Another thing to teach a child is that]
One would always work hard at making a good living when they do so for their family.
You mustn’t lower your benchmark.
You must always learn to feel a sense of pride for your family.
It is only when you feel pride for your family would you find the deep motivation.
If you only work on being yourself, then you’ll cease sooner in your efforts.
When I work on how to be a better person,
I often think of my mother.
I want to be a person greater than my mother.
In the Chinese language, [the word] reflects the culture
-- with the example of the word “country”,
it’s made up of 2 words - nation and family --
only when they’re together do they make a “country”.
When we’re in conflict with foreigners, we become the nation;
when we’re living our lives for ourselves, it is all about being a ‘family’.
The only time when China began to become weak as a country
was at the start of the Yuan Dynasty.
When the Mongolians begun holding sovereignty over us,
that’s when we began thinking of China as a nation.
[For this reason and philosophy,]
In the few thousand years’ of human civilisation,
China had always been the most prosperous.
Our family is a long line of scholars and gentle-folks.
We always, forever, think of home.
Therefore every person’s life is lived for the honor of the family.
For the Face.
Even up until now,
whatever the Chinese people do they still do it for the Face,
for the honor of the family name.
Us Chinese like to speak of Honoring the ancestors
and shining upon the forbearers.
Only when you think of honoring the predecessors would you never dare to slack off in life.
In actuality, everyone thinks of themselves.
But as long as my mother and father are present,
I would never stop doing this and that.
Their standards are high, that my home must be like this or like that.
Having participated in others’ funerals,
I’ve found that in New Zealand, there are many big families,
therefore the sense of the family and the values that follow are heavily present.
Many Chinese these days no longer carry the sense of the family.
When those that go trace their family tree,
their ideas about themselves would never be the same.
Really, the core of many cultures are one and the same.
The longer I live in New Zealand the more I see how similar to China it is .
It’s like the difference between the white onion and red onion.
The first layer of the onion skin might be dry and drab,
and you can’t see the actual onion on the inside from this layer.
But the further you peel, the deeper you dig,
the more you’ll discover the onion’s sweetness.
So really, there are very few differences [between China and New Zealand]
despite being different kinds of onions.
The onion is spicy on the outside,
but the further you peel into the onion,
the more you’ll realise that the center is sweet
[for any onion, ie between any culture].
In fact, it is because of the difference of their locations, of their religions,
that they developed different cultures.
Cultures are but a few kinds.
Their central cores, the innermost cores are but one and the same.
Because man wants to be endowed with what’s beneficial and avoid the bad,
so any kind of culture is always going to be kindness-oriented.
You may seem different on the surface,
but onions will always be onions.
The degree of hardness or softness varies between cultures.
Muslims would commit to suicide bombs;
while Chinese never would [committ such violence].
To be fair,
a fundamental key to the reason for European and Oriental cultures to be what they are
is due to the density of human population.
Because you've always gotta consider for others.
Because we inhabit a huge dry land,
therefore we have always had to engage with other histories of other cultures.
Then you most definitely learn to accept and tolerate others.
The more you have seen from experience,
the less you’ll feel anything as strange or unfamiliar.
You’d never alienate anything,
nor would you feel anything to be peculiar.
I know that I do not know,
therefore you know better
that there is so much you do not know still.
Is there anything you would like to see changes made in China or NZ?
I wish for nothing to change. It’s all fair and well.
I believe culture is a thing that, to be honest, is self-selecting and has its own sifting process.
There is a kind of inheritability.
And naturally, the bad will be selected out and sifted away.
I feel it will take its natural course.
Because there are so much in the Chinese culture,
there is thus too much under-appreciation.
Such as the cultures of the minority ethnicity groups.
People might feel it’s too provincial, even peculiar,
but I hope they will continue to thrive and remain here.
I feel I do not need to take any responsibility for the cultures of the West.
And I do not claim to know them so well, either.
If I must hope for something, for Wellington,
it is for Wellington to maintain its tolerance for cultural diversity.
This is largely to do with every immigrant.
If you do not show the best of your culture, then in many things,
Chinese already lost a lot of respect [from the people in New Zealand].
Therefore Chinese will not be as well received.
[They] are loathe-worthy.
Everyone must take on the duty of doing in one’s best ability
to exhibit the best of one’s cultural tradition.
In New Zealand, people do not show what they really feel,
in fact that can be quite loathsome.
For example, us Chinese people are very direct,
and will tell you what they feel straight-away.
Western people may be laughing at you in their hearts, and you stay all silly.
It’s really very vain.
You do not benefit me by not telling me how you feel,
and in the long term, you do not benefit yourself from it.
Another good example:
is the way Chinese people greet each other,
it’s just a simple "Good to see you",
and then we go on being busy with lives.
Western people would say, “How are you?” [as a question]
You may say it without wanting to hear an answer to the question,
as if you’ve really cared about that person or something.
People [may choose to] deal with me on the surface level,
that has nothing to do with me.
I dislike that they act all cordially
in order to show how high and superior they are.
They would say,
‘Ah you’ve done this and that and that very well,
but then you know, you’ve done that and this not so well...”
Ah! Such a waste of time!
One is one, two is two,
what’s the point of dragging on with all the fuss about being polite and all!
Why is New Zealand so fallen behind in terms of progress?
The only good thing that could come out of this is,
people live a leisurely life.
Leisure is the most luxurious thing in this world.
This is a matter of capacity of the mind and of the heart.
When it comes to the really big matters,
Chinese people are very euphemistic and rounded.
Population is too dense,
people need to be direct with everyday little things.
A popular saying online goes like this:
There flows 5 words in the sky,
that is not at all a big deal.
Even horses of the heavens
[phonetic slang in Chinese for ‘anything’]
are just floating clouds.
Westerners deem forms over function too much,
Chinese people deem outcomes very highly.
That this thing needs to turn out leaving everyone feeling good.
In China, severe earthquakes hit Sichuan
[in 2008, just a few months away from the start of Beijing Olympics],
[the central government of China ordered
for] this province to go help this city,
and that province to provide funds for that city:
In 2 years' time,
all victims from the earthquakes have moved into new houses.
Here, in Christchurch,
how many years has it been now?
People are still troubled by lack of proper housing.
China is all about [meeting a] deadline.
[When it comes to governmental decision making}
[As the central government, I am going to] give you 3 months,
within these 3 months, say all you want to say,
after this 3 month period, I’m going to have nothing to do with you,
because I’m going to start working on implementing the issue.
[Whereas in New Zealand, ]
simply by having unlimited endless democratic discussions,
how are you going to make progress?
I’m really reminiscent of China’s [system of] democracy-first,
collective decision-making second.
Without centralization, there will be no actions.
And there will Never ever be progress.
If you spend every day asking each other,
"what do you think about this?"
"what do you say about that?"
what is the use of a government?
You need to have a person to hammer the gavel.
Here, there is not a real leader,
here, there is a government,
everyday it’s either this or that.
Whereas centralisation is not the same as authoritarianism.
That is why us Chinese people go democracy first, centralization after.
Centralisation of decision-making is a way of reaching a conclusion.
First, ask the common folks,
let the people make claims on what they want the government to address;
then,find the best experts for a democratic purpose.
Chinese don’t like to be framed by professional judgements,
so people’s voices need to come first.
Professionals are employed for making evaluations.
What the professional can offer is what is called
"providing advice to the government";
what the people contribute is called
"offering opinions and suggestions";
The final decision making is left for the government.
The thing that disappoints me the most is that,
since coming to New Zealand, I’ve liked all things, except
when it comes to this matter of infrastructure reconstruction in Christchurch,
[It is just too] painful to think of.
For such a beautiful city to have so many years of delay,
is the incapability of the government.
Chinese people like to see the final outcome,
and it is the outcome that is demanded by the people!
why would all the people of China keep having
“Thankful to the government” on the tip of their tongues?
It’s because the government has gotten something done [for them].
You see anything worth feeling thankful for towards the NZ government?
I feel their sense of belonging is not as strong as that of Chinese people.
Chinese people would sing:
“Five Starred flag, I feel proud for you;
Five Starred flag, I feel self-pride because of you.”
Here, the most that people would support is an -ism of their choice.
Often-times, it requires a kind of self-dedication to do a thing right.
And Chinese are about the middle-way,
that things need to be just right, balanced.
For example, why do we call a country a ‘nation-home’?
That is because a nation requires people’s devotion.
We say ‘faithfulness & filial piety cannot both compromise’.
Loyalty to the nation is called faithfulness,
the same towards the family is called filial piety.
When the country is facing conflict, we would say,
“It is every man’s duty [to serve the country at this difficult time],
faithfulness and filial piety cannot both compromise.”
What you need to give to the country needs to be all about devotion.
What you need to give to your family is harmony.
Where does harmony come from?
It comes from being just right.
It’s about achieving balance.
It’s very important.
Harmony therefore translates as nobility.
The most expensive and precious thing is nothing but harmony,
that is, peace.
Even with harmony,
we have many different words and different kinds of harmony --
When it comes to politics and the economy,
we call it the country.
But when poets write about the country,
because poets are strong in sensibility,
they would refer to the country as “family-nation”.
I don’t know if there is this kind of sharp distinction in the English language.
I just really like ‘family-nation’.
Especially when it’s to do with ‘thousand autumns of hate on behalf of the family-nation’.
The thing that hurts you the most is not a result of the nation-family,
the thing that would hurt the most is because of the family-nation.
I have grown to disregard more and more
of the kind of civilisations based on invasion, plunder and war.
I used to worship the Western culture.
Now I rather like our Chinese culture.
Our Chinese culture has a lot of generosity and tolerance.
‘I will receive the ten thousand celestial kingdoms that come to assemble here.”
You come to my place, I will accept you.
But I will never go to invade your country, and rob you.
Our culture is one of peaceful coexistence.
This includes our medicine
which is all about strengthening, reinforcement, fitness, and not about killing bacteria.
And we are very good at self-reflection and introspection.
Us Chinese people would feel,
your fire has risen up in you,
or, evils have attacked you from the outside.
If you don’t feel serene, it’s because the fire has risen in your system.
Risen fire is nothing but excessive Yang and exhausted Yin.
It’s because you don’t accept other people,
that’s why you have fire risen in you.
So we talk about being gentile and soft.
soft as Yin, harmonious as circle.
Circles are without sharp angles,
and the change is grudual and smooth.
In fact, time is the most precious.
Time is life’s most fundamental unit.
If life is measured by its length, time is its unit;
if life’s measured by its width, time is its element.
For old farmers in the countryside, life is made of days,
his life is the acres of land in sight.
But for those who travel here and there,
from one country to the next, their life is full of width.
Delve deep into ancient civilisations and their history.
Without the knowledge of history, one’s life will not have depth.
Bacon said, knowledge is power.
But he was a foul character.
He often betrayed his own ideals. He was too smart.
Therefore, he did not have as much wisdom,
and was not as faithful or staunch in his principles.
Intelligence and wisdom are two different things.
Therefore us Chinese people talk about harmonious peace.
Chinese people on the other hand are all about the middle-way.
Bacon was not balanced.
He himself was not a man of greatness.
He died because of an experiment.
He felt that if chickens were frozen,
the bacteria would be killed in the process.
He got infected and died from the infection.
Did your university studies in organic chemistry shape your worldview somehow?
Organic chemistry is very wonderful, very helpful.
In life, people are full of leisure.
Chemistry is about the ideal state.
Categorise, then you can mingle with others.
Extract, then you’ll discover dynamic equilibrium.
So chemistry has helped with the formation of my worldview
and my theories towards life.
I feel quite fortunate,
especially that I studied organic chemistry.
Once you take away the ideal state, analyse its various factors,
just the same as when you analyse various aspects of the society.
And it is because of this, that when I socialise with other people,
I would analyse, I would categorize,
and finally come up with an OPT - optimum.
I will live the most ideal state of my life.
When you’re in the best state of life, you’re a happy person.
So I have grasped an ideal perfect state of Chinese culture
through an organic chemistry method.
Tao is about making the elixir of life.
In fact man’s ultimate dream is wealth and an extended life.
Therefore to read some more of the Tao concepts,
- if you really dig in to the subject -
you’ll enter into a Buddha-like state of selflessness.
Just like when I enter into the laboratory,
I have no concept of time.
My colleagues would all be amazed --
that I was completely in a physical shut-off state.
I really like that state of being.
Every season, I would publish a new color,
and I must work on developing and releasing a new color every 3 weeks.
The moment I see something,
I can devise 80% of the formula in my mind immediately.
The colors I develop come from my heart, the paint, the dyes.
Once I’m in the lab, I won’t think of anything.
I would even forget about my child.
I have neither a child, nor a family.
I feel very empty, very vast.
There is no me, I do not feel my body,
I do not have a sense time,
I do not have the concept that I have a child, all I have got is my job.
I feel like I’m not anywhere in particular,
it’s a beautiful feeling.
When I first left my parents, I felt very awful.
Now I’ve thought it through.
[It’s an ancient saying to] advise a person
to care for whoever is right in front of you.
You must still cherish the people next to you.
[It’s about] the people in front of you,
and the immediate matters that need taking care of.
[That is:] what I have, and what I can do --
not what I cannot do, or someone I cannot reach to.
That’d be stupid.
After this realisation, I’ve found my balance.
Since I cannot do much for my parents,
what’s the point of feeling awful.
[Plus,] what my mother wants for me is for me to be happy.
As long as one has accomplished the life they feel satisfied with,
they will naturally be happy.
Your satisfaction or fulfilment is possible to achieve
but not something to simply want.
You need to have the skill.
Happiness is not a goal, but should be a state of being.
One must set higher and further goals.
You don’t necessarily have to achieve the goal,
you don’t have to feel satisfaction,
but, in the process of the pursuit, I feel happy.
That is because,
when you do obtain it, you will but feel,
this is not much of a big deal after all!
So we must aim higher and further.
Out of the poets,
I really like White Lee (李白), Eastern Slope Soo.
But if I would choose one to marry,
I would choose Xiu Ou Yang, Wei Wang
(he’s a painter, a musician,
he lived for a very long time, and he was an interesting character.)
I like those who are graceful, refined, and stable.
I don’t like those that follow their whims.
When I do my job I like to be professional, and responsible.
Take ambassador En Lai Zhou (周恩来) for example,
because of his sacrifice, his grievances,
he secured many lives of the Chinese people.
China was then all about the War of the 10 Roads.
Zhou was forever in his invincible place,
where as Chairman Mao was felled many times over by other people.
Kissinger wrote a book called The Leaders,
in which he wrote about Zhou,
he didn’t care about writing on Chairman Mao.
I respect Chairman Mao. He was a man of probity.
He was poor once, and would never corrupt a cent of money.
And he loved books.
I like people who love books.
What I love the most is books,
but what I cherish the most is kindness and benevolence.
But in this world of materialism,
books are rather important nonetheless.
Because all people care about now is money.
[Life’s about] what my heart feels. Feelings are very important to me.
My grandfather and my great-grandfather were both wizards.
Wizards need to feel for things,
to feel for the world, for the people, and the environment.
They were the people that were able to make something happen.
They healed people’s illness.
They would go look for herbs, pick them and make herbal pastes.
During morning walks with my father,
he would be able to recognise many herbs
because of his father and grandfather.
My mother’s side of the family had a headmaster,
her father, who was prepared for studying abroad in Russia.
He didn’t eventually go to university,
because he practiced filial piety,
as his mother wanted him to get married.
My mother’s side of the family had teachers and businessmen.
They used to travel to the capital city for business,
to bring back the money they made and build houses,
to honor the family.
But no one knows where they ended up eventually.
Back in those days, there were no banks.
They were carrying the money they made in actual silver pieces.
Speculation goes that they must have been robbed and killed on the road.
[My mother’s father --] my grandfather
was an early-born of 7 months in the embryo.
Chinese people used to say,
“Live through 7, but not through 8”.
So he was carried in a face wash basin
and handed over to some other family to be raised.
His adopted mother was married
but her husband went to Beijing to do business right after they got married.
So she was never able to have a child of her own.
Everything in my grandfather’s life had something to do with the number 7.
The day my grandfather died,
my grandmother stirred up my mother from her sleep and said:
“Today there are a lot of 7,
there is no chance he would be able to make it through this day.
There is some big event that happens every time it hits 7 for your dad:
He has 7 children; today is the 7th of the 7th.”
My mother quickly went over to see her dad.
At 7 minutes past 7a.m., my grandfather died.
He was 77 years old.
What would you like to say to your family, but never had a chance?
I love you.
Because I did not have much chance to pay filial piety to them,
I could not help them being here.
In this culture of ours, we do not say ‘I love you’.
I can accept all things.
Some things do not have to be said out loud.
Everything else is small things, those are all unimportant.
Compared to my sense of guilt and thankfulness,
those little things are all unimportant.
People would sing ode to kindness.
But who have sung for truth?
People overvalue knowledge, power, even kindness.
People lack real appreciation of truthfulness and faithfulness.
Truthfulness is neglected by people,
faithfulness is not something people want to do/have.
People have an over-tolerance for unfaithfulness.
This means that they will not cherish faithfulness.
What would you advise to the future generations?
[Learn about] culture,
especially for Oriental culture to be in the West, that would be great.
Be faithful to oneself, love nature,
be a person of great character.
Be a person that will make yourself feel proud of yourself.
I hope my offsprings will make their parents proud,
and make their own future generations proud,
that is - a person of great character,
to feel fulfilled by oneself.
I am minute and small.
My power is limited.
Malisha: On Authenticity, Self-Care, Social Work, Dogs, Somaliland, Feminism, Foucault + Advice for all
We had a family friend, mom’s dear friend, Jane,
who lived on the beach.
She was an artist.
She had this amazing big dog, Daisy.
Mom would always let me paint there,
play with the dog, be with Jane.
Jane passed a few years ago.
She was very modern.
I was very curious of her,
because she would have short hair,
wear very long black dresses, like a witch.
Actually I haven’t thought about her until just now...
it’s important to be authentic to yourself.
So from [the movie] Inside/Out
Joy was supposed to be the hero, right?
That comes from the perception of happiness,
that happiness is a right for everybody.
Really, sadness is really with you as well,
and she turned out to be the hero as well.
A lot of people suffer from depression.
It’s like a roller coaster:
you come from the darkness,
but you learn to be content with that.
It’s about resilience. Scan your body,
and scan your feelings, and that’s okay.
With depression , you slum into a hole,
and you don’t really want to get out of it.
A lot of my friends have severe manic depression
[that they] couldn't get out of it for days.
[One] has given up completely. It’s very triggering.
Don’t let that category define who you are.
It was really a concern for me to work for Refuge,
surrounding myself with all these bad stuff.
It made me very resilient,
because I would draw resilience from their experience.
It’s a very powerful journey.
When people write up their CV,
they write: “I’m a really results-oriented person.”
Really, you can’t get attached to the outcome.
When you work at the Refuge,
you want a good outcome.
You have to stay present,
and just be there for her
[any woman that seeks help at the Refuge],
and as long as she knows you’re there,
at that present moment, you’re ok.
My second ever phone call as a volunteer: a woman rang:
“He’s trying to get through the door!”
She rang us instead of the police.
When I asked for her phone number,
the phone just cut [off].
I wish I asked for her name.
“It’s ok,” my supervisor said,
“she rang you to hear your voice, and that'll help her.”
And that sense of connection is so vital.
We become so hollow and lonely when we don’t talk to people.
What is compassion?
[It’s] very tied in with empathy.
I see it in gestures as well.
The look in the eye. Hand movements.
If you’re open, you’re letting yourself be vulnerable,
you’re letting people in,
and you’re not blocking yourself from people.
[It’s also] tied in with active listening.
There’s where you really practice your active listening skills.
Just simply observing the other person and,
not talking over them.
[Compassion is like] that song
♩Lean On Me♪,
I think it’s completely contextual.
There have to be messages conveyed to you from that other person.
There shouldn't be judgment passed.
Even just simple generous gestures,
that’s very compassionate.
In Somaliland, the woman would just kiss my hand -
I’d kiss her hand, and she’d take [mine] and kiss [it].
The men wouldn’t shake your hand.
That’s why I was very lucky being a woman researcher.
I wasn’t interested in men [as my subjects]
I met a few who really just tarnished my view about patriarchy there:
A man invited his friends over to his house right after his wife just delivered her baby -
[he] did not have compassion for his wife,
[nor was he] mindful that 'my wife just gave birth.' The men were [there] chewing kat.
Even when we had our radical picnic at our university -
We organised a picnic, the uni I worked at.
Some students were allowed to go,
Boys would mingle with girls.
There were 3 principles that students wanted to voice about:
caring for environment; loving your family;
and respecting how much work your mother does
(they all cook, and it’s a lot of work);
recognising family as FMU [Fundamental Moral Unit]
and bringing everyone together at the same space.
Yet, [the] grownup males, the Islamic teacher, the vice president,
they grouped themselves off,
they didn’t contribute to anything,
threw their rubbish on the ground,
expected the girls to pick them up.
I said [to them],
“No, being together is important.”
[So] they came [and joined us],
but they were on their own mats.
They were ridiculed by the students.
It’s good for the boys to see what you’re not supposed to do.
The boys helped out with cooking -
for boys to flip the fish over, and wash the dishes,
that was radical.
It’s nothing but something,
it means a whole [lot].
This whole division of labor,
it’s not doing them justice.
Do you love dogs or cats?
I’m a dog lover. That’s just always it.
I think it comes from my mother.
My mom was very horrible to cats when I was younger.
Cats don’t like me and I don't like cats.
Cats are too independent for my liking.
Dogs - lots of companionship there.
They pick up the same behavior as family.
Mom sleeps a lot,
so you’ll always find [my dog] Milo in bed.
Milo is like a sacred symbol - everyone surrounds him,
and that brings us together.
And Milo would always want the family to be together.
There was once we went shopping.
I said to go get something that way,
and mom needed to get something the other direction.
We didn’t have Milo on a leash,
so he just [sat] in the middle, and looked each side.
[In Somaliland,] dogs were imported by the British.
They were treated badly. They looked sick.
Homeless. Quite dangerous.
In Islam, you’re not supposed to touch dogs.
So people throw stones at them,
even if they’re sleeping.
My colleague called me the Dog Whisperer.
[One day,] I finished work.
There’d be this open alley way
and dogs would just sleep on it.
Little shits would just over and throw stones at them like sport.
The dogs were getting really wired up,
and they just barked and barked.
I said to them,
“Mya! (Stop it!) Stop doing that! That's really bad. That's awful.”
To prove a point,
I walked through them,
and they were just shouting,
“Mya, mya. Don't, they’re dangerous, they’re evil.”
“No, you’re making them evil. You’re making them mad.”
So I walked down this alley way,
and every dog I walked past just quieted down.
I was scared, and the boys
just [watched with their jaws dropped].
What do you think you would do if you were to move to Somaliland?
I would teach English.
I’d be very engaged with the community.
You have to be.
Everyone just knows who you are.
So you really need to put a good name out there for who you are.
And surround yourself with people
I’d love to open up a woman’s skateboard organisation.
So girls could skate and play basketball.
There’s a private gym where windows are closed off.
But for them to run around or play sports,
there’s nothing offered for them.
[In Somaliland,] they know Saudi Arabia is crazy in [terms of] Islam.
But, have some self reflection.
You don't want to be like that, right?
People have very negative views about Muslim
- Don't prove them right.
I’ve a lot of friends who think Christianity is [tended to be]
really imposing a particular view.
It’s like with transvestites -
they wear a hell of a lot of makeup.
Whatever makes them feel good,
they have the choice.
On sex workers:
I went to Vietnam with Jacob,
[it] must have been a few years [back].
We went from Ho Chi Minh to Huong,
which is my favorite, and then Hanoi.
The only thing that upset me was the Westerners.
The disgusting old men that picked up that 12 year old girl.
They were holding hands.
Sex is the old job huh?
For sex workers, why does it have to mean something?
[Society] breaks it down to [how] sex doesn’t mean anything,
[that] sex is just a service.
[But] sex workers [are the ones] doing it,
men are not.
Unless [there’s] a pimp,
[it becomes] male organised thing.
These women are in control of their sex,
they’re not doing it for babies,
they just overturns that whole system around.
There’s a sense of peace when it comes to it.
I love and encourage women to be themselves and goddesses,
because that power has been taken away from them for so long.
I really like the philosophy of the Mother Earth,
we’re more attached to earth than fit soldiers who create war.
I read this book on goddesses, and,
they did this old rituals and bathe,
and drink apple cider vinegar tea -
it’d be a ritual of purification.
It comes down to companionship.
They found women who had similar ideals,
learn about nature, worship nature,
because it’s close to their anatomy.
And maybe they don’t associate themselves with the male-dominated world,
so they find peace in this philosophy.
What is Beauty?
Beauty is subject to constant change.
It’s influenced by time.
Depends on the individual.
I see beauty everywhere,
Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
For indigenous people,
I consider them beautiful,
they got a story to them.
It sounds horrible to say but I think
it’s more beautiful than the colonial Europeans.
Like the Native Americans,
That’s really unique in NZ coz we hold on [to Maori culture].
In Fiji they’re really dismissive of indigenous culture,
they condemn indigenous practitioners
If it’s got a story behind it,
if it’s got pure intentions, it’s beautiful.
[At the same time,]
I’m really sceptical of the purity discourses.
The underlying meaning [is],
they [men] fear her reproductive power,
coz it’s different from their own.
you always have to be sceptical when people say something.
You have to be critical in this world.
Stripping all those discourses,
it’s a form of resistance.
In Religious Studies,
we seriously neglect the issue of race.
Jesus woulda been brown or black, not white.
Even in indigenous studies,
it’s white studies -
It’s white scholars imposing their view based on their experience on indigenous people.
And when scholarship is donated by white,
it’s just another form [of] superiority.
When foreigners go to their countries, they’re called expats.
I call them foreigners.
Other NGO workers call themselves] expats.
Dont disrespect Somalians by calling yourselves expats.
I’m not comfortable with the term expats.
When I did that internship with Tearfund,
it's a Christian social group.
I watched a campaign about human trafficking.
We were supposed to write an essay about
what we’re gonna do with sex trafficking,
how to combat with the issue.
I said: Join up the sex workers!
Get the community to join up with the sex workers.
Collaborate instead of imposing on [these sex workers] their views [on sex work] as sinful.
This [is a] completely different agenda.
Tearfund has the strand I’m not comfortable with.
NZ is a target country.
They say that sex workers are going to expand this [industry] from human trafficking.
I’m not comfortable with that at all.
Prostitution law makes things more transparent,
and protect the sex workers.
It’s not going to boom this industry.
I didn’t support that stance at all.
The pastorship didn’t want Tearfund to talk about prostitution.
First, call them sex workers,
coz [the pastorship] will hate that.
Jesus was a radical equalist.
It’s all about interpretation.
It’s very [Darwinian] -
For your health to improve,
you need to lean on other people.
A lot of my friends are gay.
Living in the culture we live in,
I do find that intolerable [when Christians talk against homosexuality].
With Christians, they see death as evil,
so they think suicides is a form of evil.
[Going against Christian ways of thinking is] the whole euthanasia debate
- that’s the situation where you’re healthy
There is this Somalian saying:
"Even when there is not a family around to support her,
the woman can dance with her child on her back."
Self-care is very important.
It’s sort of an effective mechanism
to not carry the burden of others,
to scan your bodies, scan your emotions, scan your feelings,
what’s today going to be like. We forget to.
[Now], I value my family more,
I really missed my mother when I was away.
Not for different food, not for cool climate,
not to wear pants or shorts,
but for my mother’s hands, they tell a lot.
Having mother’s arms around me was the most thing I missed.
So when I’m back in Wellington now,
I always go straight to mom for hugs.
I believe it’s a great strand of energy,
one that’s pure. It’s very fulfilling.
That’s part of the finding for my research [in Somaliland].
I was very interested in my mother-daughter relationship for my report.
Social support from mothers really help with reproductive success,
& she is most strongest when she has a daughter.
Boys are taught to detach.
I’m really interested in the FMU.
It’s a matriarchal practice.
Once daughter has it, she stays confined in the home.
It’s the mother’s investment in the daughter to make sure she’s married.
It’s quite special and unique.
[I also think] it’s our time to protect our mothers.
In Chinese, there is a saying,
"The filial duty of feeding one's parents is carried even by the crows."
[You know] the awful sound that crows make,
it’s a signal to the other crows, they’re not individualistic.
If you were to be an animal, which would you pick?
We had this discussion in Somaliland,
I really like to be a dog,
but I got given peacock.
I’ve always been obsessed with female eagles.
Because they [would] fly through twisters, in order to get to their babies.
I find that very powerful.
I want to have that ability.
Do you ever wanna be a mother one day?
I don't know yet.
A lot of women these days are unable to find a partner
because of commitment issues,
but these women are ready to have babies.
Any future plans to travel?
I definitely want to go to Ireland.
I made some good friends who are from Ireland.
I can always see myself living in France,
learning the language.
I find Germans are quite hard to talk with.
There’s this horrible joke:
You know Jewish people are most funniest people in the world,
that’s apparently why Germans are not funny.
What do you like about Foucault?
subjectivity that encapsulates philosophy of the subject,
power discourse and what that means to the subject.
And where there is resistance, there’s power.
Very brilliant man.
Feminists are really conflicted about Foucault.
Some say he’s anti-Feminist.
Some say he’s completely revolutionized feminism.
He’s been implicit.
He completely stripped away homogeneous identities,
constructed identities, that for repression and oppression.
His ideal world would be for women to sleep with women and men.
He believes multiple discourses need to be proliferated to break down a powerful discourse.
And I believe in he’s a feminist,
a very post-modern one.
Very brilliant guy, radical socialist.
He’s very political.
There’s a famous photo of him protesting against condition of prisoners.
His efforts for people marginalised by society.
He’s a great guy, I’d love to have dinner with him.
Who else would you like to have dinner with?
I’d love to have dinner with Valerie Solanas:
she was a crazy one, who shot Andy Warhol.
He stole her arts.
You should read
Scum: Manifesto for Cutting Up Men.
It’s very short, very ridiculous.
It’s a famous piece of literature.
She didn’t do feminism any justice,
but she’s an interesting character.
I wouldn't show my students this.
They would find radical feminism funny.
They really like post-modern feminism,
they don’t think western feminism will speak to African, Muslim issues.
Who else - Helen clark. David Lange.
What would you like to say to men who are mistreating women?
Take a look at yourself.
I hope someone treats you the way you treat other people.
Just so you can learn.
I wish [for] you what you do to others.
At Refuge, we design a safety package.
We get the police involved.
All the girls should learn self-defence.
You don't have to be as big of a person:
you can kick their shin, he’s going to release you,
and you’re going to run away.
It's always a blaming game as well.
“I do this because I love you.”
They mix love with violence.
And it’s the same with parents.
The child knows the mother/father loves them.
If they hit their child,
they confuse love with violence.
And that becomes an ongoing cycle.
So in our programme, we break that cycle.
We teach children not to express their anger,
but teach them to override it,
the breathing technique,
talk to their mom, not to social workers,
talk to their schools.
[Some social workers have] done a lot of injustice to the mothers.
We’re not child-advocates,
we’re women advocates.
Putting them in homes does them no good.
Advice to the future generations:
To leave a lot of space for innovation & creativity.
That’s closely tied up with green technology.
NZ government I believe is a very state-driven sort of dictators for scientific research.
There’s no money in it for NZ.
There's no room for it.
Whereas Germany puts in a lot of money for scientific research.
NZ is not like that:
even when they talk about free market,
it's very state driven. It’s awful.
So I believe creativity is very important.
Keep researching and being innovative.
Explore all options.
Even if you come across road blocks of barriers.
Step outside your comfort zone
even though it might be risky or you’re scared of it.
The experience attracts you.
Coz without experience, something inside us sleeps.
You’ve got to awaken yourself,
and that sends out the messages to other people as well.
It’s not affecting you [alone],
it’s an electromagnetic field.
You’re going out there,
you’re inspiring other people.
You shouldn’t be influenced by someone,
you should be inspired.
[For example, be inspired] by artwork.
Students in Somaliland are not encouraged to do artwork.
University creates a space for art where inspiration happens.
If you have troubles at home,
you can go to that space to be inspired.
You draw an inspiration from everything, everyone.
“Si Jeunesse Savait et Si Vieillesse Pouvait”. This is something my grandpa #RenéCREMET often said. Like the child may see something and want it, but the parent would say, “No.” Because they know that it may not be good for the child.
It’s human nature: We have this potential of self-destruction; sometimes, without realising it.
With the Western lifestyle, we use technology to help us create more - we’re always producing more, we always need more. We don't need to produce so much, or do so much, or get so much. It's a problem if we forget to ask ourselves what we really need.
I'm from this new generation after the one of the Baby-Boomer. Our parents realised that things won’t be as easy for us as it was for them. Things are changing: there are more competition in getting a job, the economy is difficult... crisis, depression, inequality…
I’m of the generation where internet has been developed. It has become easier to access information, to travel, and learn things. And mobile phones - when I was a child, no one had a phone; when I went to college, everyone owned a mobile phone.
What is your view on development?
It's tricky: we need to see what kind of development we're talking about. Development is something very complicated. You can share it and spread it to a lot of people, but I don’t know if it should be for everybody.
Development to me means sustainability, to create opportunity (you are looking for a seedling for it to become a fruit). You don't actually want to control life - You just want things to be sustainable.
I think the intention of religion is to help people develop themselves. And with religion, development is very simple: the development through religion is something you should share with other people, otherwise it's not true development.
I want to develop myself in a good atmosphere, good positive atmosphere. Through interactions with people - it definitely helps me develop my personality, my spirit, my skills and everything.
As human being, we forget the power of the imagination. Movies, creativity, entertainment, can help generate a lot of ideas. Wellington is so nice for that. There is such a diversity.
And I think, through the different generations in Wellington, cultures, good leadership (maybe politicians), people develop some good values and good standards for living together in harmony. I really like the slogan from Wellington City Council: “ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY WELLINGTON”.
What does faith mean to you?
I would say FAITH is connected with LOVE and HOPE. It's how you can create the momentum that help drive you in your daily life, and realise what you want to do.
What I want to do is just trying to know myself better, discover who I am, and why I'm unique. Because I believe everybody is unique. I want to learn how to be a good man, to do good things for people and for myself. It's a very simple idea, but it’s something huge to ask of oneself. Because in the end, we're all just human beings.
In life, we are the best as well as the worst, the Yin and the Yang. It's possible to do more good. Faith can help give you a direction and guide your journey. Faith is like your Dream: you know you want to go in the direction of your Dream. It's in your mind, in your heart and in your soul.
A big thing I rediscovered in New Zealand is Faith. I realised that I was not happy in France. My faith was very weak. I didn't know what I wanted to do, I couldn't see opportunities. Now I realised again how important faith is.
Faith helps human being realise they can achieve what they want in life. It's like you can create, the moment you enter into faith. Obama’s campaign slogan is about faith. “Yes, we can!” It's very simple. It's just about faith.
For me, faith doesn't mean religion. I believe all religions carry some virtues, but you don’t need to be a Christian or Buddhist or Muslim. I believe, in religion, you share ideas of development, not only for yourself, but for the people around you.
Each culture's got different faith. Mine's been something that's been told throughout my childhood. I used to go every Sunday to church with my mom, as a child; I’ve been baptised; I always went for the Communion. What I enjoyed was to share, once a week, with a small community; And people are self-reflecting on their problems, with prayers, singing, and acting together. It was nice just to meet friends; at the end of the service, to shake hands and say Hello, and for the kids to play a bit.
God is perfection to me - an ultimate GOAL. That's why when you do the work of self-reflection, you try to think about the best thing to do. I am impressed by those who have the power of self-reflection. God, incarnated in human flesh as JESUS, was a self-reflecting man, always. Jesus is the definition and representation of the virtue of Christianity.
In sharing the virtue of Christianity, you need to love everyone else, forgive - quite a universal message. The Old Testament is like, if you follow the rules set by God, it won’t be easy, but your development will help you and your future generations to come.
In France, and for most countries in Europe, laïcité is something very important. I realise the dangers of religion, when we think about science ... Galileo: He had so many brilliant ideas about astronomy, physics --- the power of the church said, “We won’t share your ideas.” It was something pretty bad.
Most people understand that we’ve got something wrong with our system in France. But at the same time, it's hard to change things -- because people don’t want to change their lifestyle, what they've got. And so, I think change needs to come through good leadership.
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream;
Not only plan, but also believe.” - Anatole, FRANCE
Thomas has left NZ and been living in Denmark with his other half Adika. They are soon moving to Shanghai where a new adventure awaits them.