Thoughts about death

During the past year a few persons close to me have died. I also have acquaintances and relatives who have reached a high age and are experiencing some related ailments. This has made me think about life and the process of getting old. Although I am just under thirty, I can already see how my views on getting older have changed during the past ten years. How they will develop in the future, I can only guess, but the contrast between my current perspective and the one I had ten years ago is visible.

When I was twenty, I hardly contemplated about death on a personal level. I had been to funerals, but at that time death was something that would meet the old miserly while I was young and healthy. Death was not something that could happen to me or my friends of same age. Now I think and acknowledge that death could meet me eventually, but at the same time it seems to be very, very far away, maybe infinitely far away if no accident should end my life. While the twenty-year-old me saw himself as immortal, the current me has abandoned this illusion while thinking he can still live potentially forever.

When a person gets older, they gradually lose their physical prowess and mental faculties. In what order these steps take place and to what degree, varies between individuals. For the person themselves, having a clear mind in a feeble body is likely worse than the opposite; the mind can observe and grasp how its physical housing is collapsing and how it must also come to its end. In the opposite case, an otherwise functioning body without a lucid mind cannot foresee its own faith, living both without joy and worries.

Getting older and having a visceral feeling of dying must be tough for both the person experiencing it and also the people around them. However, I think we shouldn’t worry about death but rather accept it as a necessary conclusion to our lives. If we can accept death as something over which we have only limited control, we can spend more time enjoying the good things in our lives. Living in fear of death is hardly living at all.

First exams and moose hunting

This week we had our first exams, one in physics and another one in mathematics. I found both easy and am confident that I did well. I also noticed that taking those exams and solving the problems was fun and that I enjoyed taking the exams and showing what I can do. Especially I enjoyed the moment when I was able to apply some theoretical ideas and concepts to solve this one problem, the answer of which would have otherwise eluded me. The task was to calculate the work done by a force when moving a given radial distance in the gravitational field induced by the force. The function for the potential energy was given (U(r)=Cr, where C is a constant), but I had trouble deciding whether the work would have a positive or negative sign. However, using the definition of a potential inducing, and thus conservative, force and that of work done by a force I was able to decide that the sign is negative.

The moose season started two weeks ago and last week we got our first two. The other one, a large bull, died in the middle of woods and with roughly ten men left we had no way of getting it out in one piece by hand. Luckily one of our party members had a tractor available so we didn’t have to cut the carcass to pieces in the woods. The day ended up lasting until 9 pm before I was back home, thirteen hours since I had left for the hunt. I enjoyed the day to the fullest and was happy to be chasing moose after a four-year pause.

You should write letters by hand

About a week ago I received a small parcel from Switzerland. The sports club, the treasurer of which I was for a year and a half, had sent me some gifts to thank me for my work. I found the gesture and the gifts in themselves very thoughtful, so I decided that writing and sending them a hand written thank you card was in order.

In the past years I have written a few cards or longer greetings to some close friends and have always found the whole process very pleasant. When writing a longer letter by hand, one in which you really put thought into, is a meditative experience. If one wants to avoid using any correction fluid and insists on also producing an aesthetically pleasing letter with straight lines and beautiful letters, it’s essential to fully concentrate on the task at hand. You must consciously make every stroke, cross each t and place the dots on each i with care. Try to read your e-mails on the side and you end up either missing a word, choosing the wrong one or producing a figure that remotely resembles some letter.

What I like about writing letters by hand is how it improves my ability to concentrate. In today’s world we tend to have shorter attention spans and jump constantly between things, spreading our attention to all direction without focusing on any single one. When writing a letter by hand, you must invest hours to produce a good result. The one and a half pages I wrote to my friends in Switzerland took maybe two hours to compose. Writing letter by hand also develops your thinking as you have to formulate and develop your thought to its full conclusion before putting it on paper; each error means that everything thus far must also be written anew to produce a flawless result. Of course you can write the text first on a computer where you can quickly edit your text and correct mistakes, but writing a hard copy requires a finished text to begin with.

Hand written letters are also personal since they contain the writer’s unique handwriting instead of some preset font designed by a third person. When the letter is finally finished, you have a very tangible result of your own work. Receiving hand written letters is also nice since you know that the person must mean what they say; otherwise they hardly would have invested the time.

I am not advocating that we should stop using electronic devices for producing text but I highly encourage and recommend writing the occasional letter to someone important. It takes more time but also develops your concentration and patience while also making you think what you want to say and how to say it.

Friends won’t forget

Yesterday I was at a friend’s housewarming party. Invited were a couple of dozen people. Many of the guests belonged to the same group that started studying industrial management at the university nearly ten years ago. When I entered the apartment with some friends, also from our class of industrial engineers, I was mildly amazed to see all the familiar faces. Having been abroad for so long I hadn’t kept contact with most of my friends at the university. Somehow I didn’t think that so many of them would be there, but apparently they have kept well in touch. Now I saw many of them for the first time in years, yet they had hardly changed at all: same young faces, each with their recognizable character and familiar voice.

Starting a discussion with each of my old study pals was easy, just as I hadn’t been away at all. The topics were various and centered around topics different than ten years ago, but the feeling was the same. I was happy to see them and they seemed glad to see me and hear the latest news. Those who weren’t yet aware of my starting studying physics congratulated me.

The evening was pleasant and I was happy to feel and also demonstrate from my side how camaraderie and friendships are hard to forget.

Surprised by sexism

The other day I went to a barbershop to have my hair tidied up. For the last three years I have let my hair grow longer and I’ve only had the tips cut occasionally. As a result my hair was very thick and below my shoulders. Since I don’t invest much time in doing my hair, I decided to get it shortened a bit and have it cut a bit lighter.

Coming back from lunch at the university I took a short walk to a nearby barbershop I had seen many times before but never visited. Around lunch time they have reduced prices and they also take walk-ins, so I decided to pop by. As I stepped in, I saw a man and a woman in the waiting area, sitting and talking to each other. One or two employees were serving other customers further right. The man asked whether I had an appointment. I said no and looked at the woman quizzically, whether she would have the time to cut my hair. The woman said she didn’t work there and the man asked me again whether I had an appointment. I repeated that no, I didn’t have one, but would like to have a haircut, which was arranged after a short wait.

While sitting in the barber’s chair I realized how I had fallen quilty of sexism and my preconceptions. On walking in and seeing a man and a woman talk to each other I thought I was seeing either two patrons or a customer (the man) and an employee (the woman). Accordingly, I also focused on the woman whom I assumed to be able to help me, although the man was the first to speak to me. Thinking about my own behavior, I felt quite bad about it later on. I had let my preconceptions guide my behavior, although I should have followed the situation: in a barbershop the person who asks you about your reservation is likely to work there, whether it’s a man or a woman.

What also made my behavior surprising to me is the fact that I have visited male barbers before. Seeing a man cutting hair was nothing new to me; abroad I have even seen barbershops with male employees only. In Finland it has been a profession dominated traditionally by women but during the last ten years or so more men are increasingly in the profession, or at least that’s my impression. Maybe it was because I was in Finland, where barbers are predominantly female, that I unconsciously expected the woman to be working at the barbershop and the man to be a customer. Nevertheless it was a good lesson how we can unconsciously promote sexism and other types of discrimination.

Even if we cannot get rid of all our ingrained stereotypes and preconceptions, it’s important to acknowledge their existence and recognize when we fall prey to them. I believe that to be necessary to reduce their power, stop their spreading and have a more equal society.

Food from the countryside to the city

Last weekend I visited my childhood’s home, spent time in the nature and relaxed in the midst of my studies. I came back with a bag full of berries and mushrooms, which reminded me of an anecdote my grandfather has told me.

Many decades ago, as Finland was still a more rural society, people living in the city would visit their relatives on the countryside and return home with bags of food with them. Especially after the second world war food was more scarce and the rural areas were often better off when it came to food. One of my grandfather’s cousins would also visit our family farm more or less frequently and was always given food to take home.

When I was getting on board the train last weekend, I remembered this little story and saw the parallel to my current situation. Even though Finland has become a more modern society and less reliant on agriculture as the main source of income for people, all the food still comes from fields, farms and forests, and the people in the cities eat that same food.

Laboratory experiments, text editing and sports

Last week we had our first laboratory session at the university. We were given the task of measuring the mass of a lump of play-dough without using a laboratory scale. We did the obvious thing and measured the spring constant of a light spring using known masses. After that we measured the displacement caused by the play-dough hanging on the spring to calculate its mass.

The experiment was simple and the first of six we’ll be doing this autumn. For me the main aim was to learn more about using Latex for scientific writing and getting familiar with additional tags and commands. It took me over eight hours to write the report, but it was well worth it. Writing these first reports with Latex will make the work all the more easier when the experiments and subjects become more complex and I need more time to concentrate on the subject matter. In addition, I found writing with Latex more concentrated since one can separate formatting from subject matter. This aspect is often mentioned as an advantage of Latex over word processors like Microsoft Word but one must experience it firsthand to appreciate it. Using Latex allows one to write in a more concentrated manner and produce text uninterruptedly, when formatting is not done on the fly and the formatting of the text does not keep changing continuously in real time.

During the last weeks I’ve also returned back to bouldering and done some bicycling, both of which I have enjoyed very much. Making a 30 kilometer tour on a bike in the fresh autumn air in the early morning is very energizing. Bouldering is also very enjoyable after a six-month break. I like to think how to use my body’s joints and limbs to maximize leverage and make my way to the top as easy as possible. Yesterday I was again climbing and was pleasantly surprised how I was able to read the pattern of the grips and plan a good way of climbing the route in front of me. After a few tries I was able to refine my approach and reach the top without too much effort and using good technique. Now I have to improve my grip strength and endurance to be able to climb more demanding routes. At the moment I am capable of climbing routes with ratings around 6B to 6C.

Starting the physics studies

During the last two weeks I have gotten to know people, other freshmen at the physics  program, taken care of administrative and reviewed some high school mathematics. On September 5th we’ll have our first lectures on mechanics and mathematics. During this autumn and the coming spring well go through the classical mechanics and electromagnetism, supplemented with the necessary mathematical tools. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on the equations and problems.

At the moment I feel there’s little to write in my blog, but I’ll try to keep up the habit of weekly posts so stay in the groove. Likely some interesting physics and mathematics related topics will find their way into posts, as long as I’ll have the time to write them.

On getting older and pursuing your dreams 2/2

In the previous post I wrote about getting older and seeing and feeling the first marks of old age in your body. Below a more humorous and light-minded text on the physical changes that a 28-year-old man might find in his body. Below the Finnish original you’ll find an English translation.

28-vuotiaan vartalo

28-vuotiaana otsaan ilmestyy pienen pieniä kyhmyjä, tai näppylöitä, joiden olemassa olosta ei edes ole ihan varma. Iho näyttää jämerämmältä, karkearakenteisemmalta. Sääriin ilmestyy pieniä, aavistuksen muuta ihoa tummempia täpliä, kuin pigmenttilaikkuja, joista aikanaan kehittyy maksaläiskiä. Myös säärien iho on jo kuluneempaa, pienen verkkokuvion peittämää: kuin ihon pintaan olisi uurrettu hienon hieno verkkokuvio, kuin muikkuverkko alle millimetrin silmäkoolla. Ja pohkeiden kohdalla iho on hieman väsähtänyt, vaikka lihasta jännittäessä säikeet näkyvätkin. Jalkaa koukistaessa polvitaipeen iho kuitenkin paljastaa todellisen olemuksensa, hieman veltostuneen ja jälleen appelsiinipintaisen rakenteen.

28-vuotiaana jalkapöydän ihokin muuttuu appelsiinipintaiseksi. Kun venyttää pakaralihasta asettamalla toisen säären vasten toisen jalan polvea ja istumalla lattialla, näkee, miten jalkapöydän ihon pinta muuttuu nilkkaa koukistaessa ja varpaita ylöspäin taivuttaessa hienojen ryppyjen peittämäksi: ihoa näyttää olevan hieman liikaa, se on melko ohutta ja osittain kimmoisuutensa menettänyttä. Samalla näkee, kuinka nilkan iho hilseilee kuivuneena, pintakerroksensa koostuen heikosti kiinnittyneistä pienistä hiutaleista, jotka kevyesti raaputtamalla irtoavat ja leijailevat pois. Samoja hiutaleita on myös jalkapöydän appelsiini-ihossa. Nilkan keskikohdassa, jalkapöydän yläpuolella, iho on kimmoisampaa, se menee vain yhdessä suunnassa laskokselle, muodostaen vain poikittaisia ryppyjä, toisin kuin jalkapöydän appelsiini-iho, jonka rypyt eivät ole suoria ja tekevät siksi ihon pinnasta vanhemman ja väsyneemmän näköisen. Nämä nilkankin rypyt näyttävät kuitenkin jo aikaa nähneiltä, sillä niiden iho on parkkiintunut, hieman karhea ja aavistuksen kovettunut, mutta kuitenkin alla olevien lihasten ja jänteiden vahvasti tukema: jo kokenut, mutta edelleen vahva ja elinvoimainen. Toisin on jalkapöydän ihon kanssa, joka on jo kokenut ja parhaan teränsä menettänyt,  entistä nuoruuttaan muisteleva, menneeseen haikaileva.

Nilkassa olevan pallomaisen luun pinnalla iho on kuin kevyesti veitsen viiltelemää: sileää, mutta hienoja uria täynnä, jotka risteilevät keskenään, muodostaen  huolimattomasti piirretyn verkkomaisen rakenteen, koostuen nelikulmioista, kolmioista ja siellä täällä seassa olevista epämääräisemmistä muodoista. Ihoa sormella vetäessä alueiden rajoina toimivat viillot irvistävät, ja viiltojen rajat nousevat ylös, näyttäen ihon hiutalemaisuuden, aivan kuin nilkan kohdalla aiemmin. Nämä hiutaleet vain ovat isompia, niitä viiltojen rajoittamia kolmioita, neliöitä ja muita muotoja, jotka ovat ihossa vielä tiukasti kiinni reunojensa kuitenkin irvistäessä, kun ihoa vetää johonkin suuntaan.

Ensimmäinen kesä 28. ikävuoden tultua täyteen vie takaisin nuoruuteen: pienenä kasvoissa olleet pisamat ovat vuosia sitten hävinneet, mutta ilmestyvät nyt sääriin, etenkin puolisäärestä alaspäin säären etupuolelle, kun ne altistuvat kesäauringolle. Nämä pisamat ovat tosin haaleahkoja, noin millimetrin läpimitaltaan ja ovat muistuttavinaan maksaläiskien esiastetta: kasvavatkohan ne yhteen vai ovatko ne tulevinakin kesinä erillisiä täpliä jaloissani? Muistan aiemmin katselleeni keski-ikäisiä miehiä, joilla oli näitä pilkkuja säärissään, miettien, että ne pilkut ovat oikeastaan aika sympaattisen näköisiä, viestivät jollain tavalla elinvoimasta, jota mies on imenyt itseensä viettämällä aikaa auringossa, joka on jättänyt jälkeensä lisäksi nuo pilkut jaloissa.

The body of a 28-year-old

At the age of 28 small bumps, or pimples, make their presence vaguely known on one’s forehead, although it’s not quite clear whether they are there or not. The skin looks sturdier, coarser. The shins gain small spots that are slightly darker than the rest of the skin, like pigment spots that eventually develop into chloasma. Also the skin on the shins is already more worn, covered by a net with very fine loop size, like one for catching vendace, with holes less than one millimeter wide. And the skin on the calves is a little tired and droopy, although the striations of the flexed muscle are still visible. But bending the knee forces the skin on the back side of the knee to reveal its true essence, somewhat drooping and, again, with a consistency resembling orange skin.

At the age of 28 even the skin on the top of your foot has the surface of an orange. When you stretch your gluteus maximus by setting one shin across the other knee while sitting on the floor, you’ll see how the skin on the topside of your foot, your instep, gets covered in fine wrinkles when you bend your ankle and turn your toes upwards: it looks like there is just a bit too much skin there, and it’s quite thin, partly having lost its elasticity. Simultaneously you see how the skin of your ankle is flaking off of dryness, its top layer consisting of loosely attached small flakes that, when lightly scratched, are set loose and fly away. Those same flakes can also be found on the orange-skin on the topside of your instep. At the middle of your ankle, above the instep, the skin is more elastic and has wrinkles only in one direction, namely horizontally, while the orange-skin on the topside of your foot has wrinkles that are not straight, causing the skin there to look older and more tired. But even the unidirectional wrinkles on the ankle seem to have been hardened by time, the skin being roughened, slightly coarse and hardened, yet strongly supported by the muscles and tendons below: experienced, but still strong and vivid. That is not the case with the skin on the instep, already experienced and having passed its peak, reminiscent of its lost youth, looking back in the past.

The ball-shaped bone in the ankle is covered by skin that looks to be covered by light and shallow knife cuts: smooth but full of fine grooves, crossing one another and forming a carelessly drawn net, consisting of rectangles, triangles with undetermined shapes in between. When pulling the skin away between two fingers, the shallow cuts enclosing the different shapes sneer grin, and the edges of the cuts protrude upwards, showing the flakiness of the skin, just like the skin on the ankle before. These flakes are just larger, triangles, rectangles and other shapes delimited by those shallow cuts, that are still rigidly attached to the skin but already being lifted at the edges when the skin is pulled to some direction.

The first summer after having turned 28 years old takes one back to his youth: the freckles you had on your face in your younger days have disappeared years ago, but are now starting to appear on the shins, especially below mid-shin and on the front side when the shins have been kissed by the summer sun. These freckles are fair, however, and about one millimeter in diameter, like resembling an early stage of a chloasma: Might they grow together or will they continue to adorn my shins in their spotty way in the coming summers? I remember before watching middle-aged men with spots on their shins and thinking that those spots in fact look quite sympathetic or likeable, that they somehow speak about vitality that the man has absorbed by spending time in the sun that has left its mark in those spots in the shins.

 

On getting older and pursuing your dreams 1/2

The other day I remembered having written a short text on getting older sometime in 2016. I searched in the depths of my computer and found the text. Although I remembered it containing my thoughts on the physical process of aging, I had already forgotten that I had also written about my then thoughts on my career and achievements in life. Having ended my career in procurement and about to start my studies in physics, I have managed to take action and make the situation a lot better. Reading those lines from about a year ago makes me realize how bad the situation was and how sick I was emotionally, spending so much time on things I didn’t like and not pursuing a passion. As inspiration for others in a similar situation and a reminder myself I have posted that text below. The original is in Finnish but further below I have added an English translation.

28-vuotiaana

Kun mies täyttää 28 vuotta, hän huomaa vanhenneensa. Olkavarren ja solisluun sekä kyynärvarren ja olkavarren välissä iho on menettänyt kimmoisuuttaan. Nuo ihoalueet ovat kuin appelsiinin pinta. Liikunnasta palautuminenkin on hitaampaa: uni ei tahdo riittää, ja hyväkään ravinto ei riitä palauttamaan energiavarastoja, jos lepo jää tavallista lyhyemmäksi. Rankkoja treenejä ei voi tehdä viikkotolkulla putkeen, ilman että suoritustaso ja motivaatio laskevat. Päivittäinen kymmenen kilometrin työmatka kävellen ottaa pohkeisiin, ja seisoen työpöydän ääressä vietetyn päivän jälkeen etureidetkin ovat väsähtäneet. Tuntuu, että eläminen rasittaa ja että siitä ei meinaa palautua. Elämä, vaihtelevan pituinen viive syntymän ja välittömän kuoleman välissä.

Vielä verrattain nuorella, 28-vuotiaalla miehellä, voi olla vanha mieli. Oikeastaan tuo vanha mieli voi olla 24-vuotiaalla, joka ei enää halua viettää aikaa saunailloissa tai bileissä, juoda alkoholia ja valvoa myöhään, vaan treenata kurinalaisesti, koska hän ei nuoruudessaan koskaan todella antautunut urheilulle, koska hän lopetti hyvin alkaneen musiikkiharrastuksen liian aikaisin, koska hän ei jatkanut aloittamaansa karateharrastusta paria vuotta pidempään. Koska hän on kokeillut monia asioita, mutta ei koskaan löytänyt intohimoaan, jonka parissa hän voisi viettää sata elämää. Ehkä kehonpainoharjoittelu ja voimistelu ovat hänen juttunsa. Mutta hän on aloittanut liian myöhään, vasta 22-vuotiaana. Hän ei enää voita olympiamitalia, mutta ehkä hän voi silti oppia käsilläseisontapunnerruksen ja spagaatin. Mutta hän ei ole varma, onko hän löytänyt intohimonsa. Siksi hän kurinalaisesti harjoittelee kuusi vuotta, ilman suurta menestystä, yhä tehden samaa harjoitusohjelmaa, yhä tehden samoja liikkeitä, ilman etenemistä vaikeampiin variaatioihin. Hän on sinnikäs, mutta polkee syvällä kuopassaan. Hän tietää, ettei etene, mutta ei uskalla kokeilla muutakaan; mitä jos hän menettää senkin, mitä hänellä on? Mutta eihän hänellä ole mitään. Hänellä ei ole intohimoa. Tai ehkä se on voimistelu, mutta siinäkään hän ei ole edennyt. Hän ei ole saavuttanut mitään, mistä olisi erittäin ylpeä. Hän ei ole voittanut kilpailuja, saanut palkintoja tai julkaissut tekstejä. Hän on opiskellut yliopistotutkinnon määräajassa hyvin arvosanoin, mutta valinnut aikanaan väärän pääaineen. Hänen sivuaineensa olisi pitänyt olla hänen pääaineensa. Häntä kiinnostavat luonto ja tutkiminen, eivät talous ja konsulttijargonilla hutkiminen. Häntä kiinnostavat koneet ja tekniikka, eivät raha ja optimaaliset sijoitusportfoliot.

Hän on onnellinen tehdessään kirjanpitoa. Hän on onnellinen käyttäessään Microsoft Excel -työkalua. Hän on onnellinen imuroidessaan, laittaessaan ruokaa, silittäessään paitoja, ollessaan metsällä, vaeltamassa, urheillessaan, nauraessaan ystäviensä kanssa, maalla, traktorin hytissä, tehden työtä vapaasti omaan tahtiinsa. Ja silti hän viettää joka arkipäivä yhdeksän tuntia toimistossa, keskustellen ihmisten kanssa, tehden esityksiä, arkistoiden sähköposteja, soittaen puhelimella toimittajille, tehden projektityötä ilman suunnitelmaa, yrittäen saavuttaa vuositavoitteet: prosentit ja frangit.

Hän ei uskalla hypätä, ei uskalla edes kyykistyä ponnistamaan. Hän saattaisi vahingossa hypätä oikeaan suuntaan. Väärään suuntaan hän tuskin päätyisi, koska on jo väärässä paikassa. Hän pitää ihmisistä ympärillään, mutta työssään hän ei ole onnellinen. Kun johtaja kysyy, onko hän onnellinen, hän itsesuggestion vallassa vastaa myöntävästi. Myöntyvä vastaus lentää hänen huuliltaan, ja samaan aikaan hän huutaa itselleen, miten hän haluaisi jotain muuta. Mutta hän ei tiedä, mitä haluaisi. Hän pitää teksteistä ja kirjoittamisesta. Vieraat kieletkin ovat hänen mieleensä. Hän on kiinnostunut matematiikasta ja tekniikasta. Hän tykkää myös tehdä asioita käsillään ja rakentaa.

At the age of 28

When a man turns 28 he notices how he has become old. The skin between the upper arm and the collar bone and that between the forearm and the upper arm has lost some of its elasticity. There the skin is like the surface of an orange. Recuperation after sports is also become slower than before: it’s difficult to get enough sleep and even high-quality nutrition is not enough to refill the body’s energy storages if you don’t get enough rest. Hard training sessions cannot be carried out week in week out without a significant reduction in performance and motivation. The daily walk of 10 kilometers to work and back can be felt in the calves and standing the whole day by your desk makes your thighs and quadriceps tired. Life feels like a stressor from which you can hardly recover. Life, a delay of varying length between birth and death.

A relatively young man at the age of 28 can have a relatively old mind. Such a mind can even be found at a 24-year-old who doesn’t want to spend his time at parties, drink alcohol and stay up late but train in a highly disciplined manner, because in his youth he never really gave his everything to sports, because he quit a well-started music hobby too early, because he quit karate after practicing it no longer than two years. Because he has tried so many things but never found his passion at which he could spend a hundred life times. Maybe body weight training and gymnastics are his thing. But he has started too late, at the age of 22. He can no more win an Olympic medal, but maybe he can still learn to do handstand push-ups and a split. But he is unsure whether he has found his passion. Therefore he sticks to disciplined training and practicing for six years, without any great progress, still following the same program, still doing the same exercises without progressing to more difficult ones. He is persistent but is running on his place, deep in a hole he has dug. He knows that he is not making any progress but is afraid to try anything else; what if he loses even that what he still has? But he has nothing. He has no passion. Or maybe gymnastics could be it but even there he has shown no progress. He has achieved nothing, of which he would be especially proud. He has won no competitions, received any awards or prizes or published any writings. He has studied and received a university degree in the allotted time with good grades but chose the wrong subject to major in. He is interested in the world of science, not in business and consulting non-sense. He is interested in technology and machines, not money and optimal investment strategies.

He is happy when he does bookkeeping. He is happy when he uses the Microsoft Excel tool. He is happy hoovering, cooking, ironing shirts, hunting, hiking, doing sports, laughing with friends, at the country side, in the cabin of a tractor, working at his own pace. And yet he spends each weekday nine hours at the office, talking with people, doing presentations, archiving e-mails, calling suppliers, working on a project without a plan, trying to reach the annual targets: percentages and Swiss Francs.

He is afraid to jump, even afraid to bend his knees. He might accidentally jump in the right direction. It doesn’t matter where he’ll land since he’s already in the wrong place. He likes the people around him but is unhappy doing his work. When his supervisor asks whether he’s happy, he, succumbed by his autosuggestion, answers yes. The affirmation jumps from his lips while he is screaming to himself how he wants to do something else. But he does not know what he wants. He likes texts and writing. Foreign languages please him, too. He is interested in mathematics and technology. He also likes to do things with his hands and build.