Why not?

I had a dinner with my grandparents a couple of days ago. Besides a lovely meal and lots of wine they also asked me about my plans for the future. They wanted to know where I was working and if I was planning on staying there. They wanted to make sure I was paying all my insurances and saved money for my pension. And they asked me what kind of career I wanted to strive for and what I expected from my life.

Well, I said. I want adventure! When I am old I want to be proud of the life I created. I am looking forward to high-fiving myself about the amazing job I´ve done.
My grandparents seemed not to be able to comprehend. Finally they agreed on: “Sweetheart, life can´t be all about adventure.”
People, I am asking… why not?
My girlfriend´s father is an architect. He is a big supporter of young talented people. And he sees giving young architects a chance not only as his duty, but as an incredible resource of innovation. Young architects are not biased by industrial standards and by a “that´s how we´ve always done things”- attitude. They actually are very little biased at all, one could say they are a bit naive. However, this attitude is what opens the possibility of them discovering alternative solutions to problems and what brings new perspective. And that´s what my girlfriend´s dad is looking for. Innovation.
Architecture is all about finding new angles to do things. It´s about breaking the rules and about reinventing itself. Adding someone to your team who thinks “Why not?” seems to be a crucial factor.
I believe we need to reinvent many things. Not only the way we build our homes.
We might need to reinvent the way we work and the way our economy works.
The times when we had one employer for most of our lives are pretty much over. Finding a safe job even seems like it slipped down to the end of our priority list. According to recent studies in the US every third person is unhappy in their jobs. Job satisfaction, development options and moral values seem to play a much bigger role.
That´s why I like to spend my life asking “I want adventure. Why not?”.
Because if nobody tells me I can´t, maybe I can!


The bookstore overwhelm

I was never much into books when I was younger. My mom was a reading maniac, but I guess I could never relate to sitting still and staring down at a story written on paper.
Sure, I do read. But not nearly as regularly or as often as I hoped to.
Also, if I did enter book stores in the past, the books I saw were never able to grab my full attention. Some titles sounded good. But nothing that grabbed me by the core of my being and sucked me in like a rollercoaster adventure ride and spat me out in the end. And to be honest – that´s what I am looking for when reading. A book that keeps me interested, surprises me as I read and just does not let me go until I finished.
Here I was, accompanying my girlfriend to her favourite bookstore. It´s a hidden bookstore. Finding it felt like like Harry Potter entering platform 9 3/4 by jumping through a wall.
Already after entering the store I realised that something about the atmosphere was different than in other book stores. I was walking casually around the store browsing titles, passing along the shelves. It was a couple of minutes into our visit when I started to feel overwhelmed. Each and every book I touched seemed interesting to me. The titles I saw, the authors on the shelve. Everything seemed like it was made for me – or someone like me, with my interests, my goals and perspectives.
The feeling of excitement and connectedness took over.
Do you know that feeling when you are exposed to something or someone and all of the sudden you realise that you had been secretly searching for this item or person with all your being for a very long time? It blends into your existence with ease, like the perfect puzzle piece molding into the bigger picture of yourself.
You feel such relieve for finally having found the missing piece that you are overcome with joy and euphoria.
It´s when you begin to comprehend that you are indeed not crazy. That´s when you feel relief from your soul aching search for meaning and identity. You feel that maybe you can be understood and maybe there is people and things out there – just like you. A state of full connectedness, let´s say. And even if this state just lasts for a couple of seconds, it gives you ease – it soothes your soul and feels like a warm pet on the back from a close friend.
That´s how I felt when I entered the hidden bookstore.

Grinch 2.0: How the experience economy is trying to steal christmas

Until just very recently families could rely on christmas as one of the traditional holidays evolving around a jolly good mood and, of course, lots of gift giving. Families spent all of december preparing for this lovely consumer oriented holiday. Most of our wishes were of simple substance and fairly easy to fulfil. Wish lists included things like lots of toys, a bike, a gameboy, a CD, or maybe a puppy. Everything could be taken care of with a couple of trips to the mall. Gift givers and gift receivers were happy, and so were the retail companies and the government.

Things were running smoothly. But, suddenly people started to claim they were feeling overwhelmed and stuffocated from all the items around them. Some even stopped to wish for more stuff! Individuals do now go as far as to say Santa should downsize his toy factory, others already completely gave up on presents and instead started donating the equivalent money to charity.
Experts call this horrendous trend the “experience economy”.

A mayor shift is happening and this new behaviour is threatening the holidays as we know them.


Hideous wishes take over

I am now asking you to take a very critical look at this so called experience economy. These examples will explain the sheer volume of problems we will be facing this christmas. How should families react to these new kinds of unrealistic and oh-so-not-purchaseable wishes like:

  • Singing songs by the fire on a beach on Hawaii
  • Hiking in Nepal
  • Participating in the holy ritual of the dead in India

    Or let´s take a look at the wishes of a less extreme experienceist:

  • Meditate at sunrise in nature
  • Dance naked in the rain with friends
  • Volunteer in the community center to help for people in need

There is no way Santa is manufacturing any of these items in his toy factory. And even with the help of the whole family. We will not be able to make these dreams come true. You see where I am going with this?


Christmas might never be the same again

We can´t have a traditional christmas holiday where people stop buying decorations, downsize the whole event and start focusing on human interaction only. What is christmas when all the wishes we have can not be purchased anymore? Where would this world go if everybody stopped to shop for presents in December and instead thought of how they could create a better experience for others? What would happen to christmas if less turkeys were bought, less trees cut down and in general… less stuff bought? A christmas where it´s not about gifts but about long talks with friends and family, or about inviting strangers to your home, helping those in need and at the same time saving money for the next adventure?


Stop experiences before it´s too late

We have to set an end to this new trend before it´s too late. Our economy is build on consumers. Not on unreliable crazy adventurers who go and do whatever they feel like. Such behaviour is malicious and irresponsible. It is each end every individual´s task to be a functioning part in this society and to contribute to its growth. That´s why we need to stop dreaming of this non-materialistic nonsense and start to focus again on wishes that can actually be purchased. Don´t let experiences take away christmas as we know it. Save our holidays!