Honoring the masters

How short is a human’s life ? So very short ! Every moment counts, every moment is precious.

During the last year I have lost three running mates under tragic circumstances. These people will never attend a race again. We will never hear their stories again, see their smiles, share some moments together. They are gone. Gone forever.

Makes me think a bit. Perhaps it is time to act, time to tell important stuff to those important in ones life. Time to acknowledge friendships and lifetime masters. Not that this is new.. but to be even more consequent, even more dedicated in the persuit of being open and honest and in being grateful. Grateful for the inspiration and flux of important stuff into ones mind – and heart. We have the chance to act today – tomorrow is the promise to no one. Waiting – what kind of living is that ?

Thus, yesterday I called up one of my old lifetime masters, the renowed danish chemist Anders Kjær whom for a lifetime was a central figure in the area organic chemistry both in Denmark and internationally. I got to know prof. Kjær as a very young student (aged 20) and we shared a friendship based on chemistry, classical music and literature. Imagine that (this is some odd 20 years ago). Anders inspired me to attend my first international chemistry congress in 1988, where I had the pleasure to speak with several Nobel laureates and heaps of fameous chemistry professors, huge experiences for a kid on 21 ! Anders also send me off to Norway to study at the best Scandinavian University, the Technical University of Trondheim, at the similar eccentric and renowed prof. Synnøve Liaaen-Jensen… I stayed in Trondheim for 1.5 years and had a great time there.

Prof. Kjær was quite surprised by my call, obviously. But very happy and so was I. 16 years had passed but the tone was warm and friendful. My speach was humble. I think that few people (non-family) really “stand out” in a persons life, I know that the number counts less than 10 for myself, thus the more reason to honor them.

This meeting with the past reinforces my lifetime quest: I insist on being me ! Life is so short and memories so precious, and all is so very absurd if we do not choose and experience things as the individuals we really are each of us. Living by the false or living to please others points of views (e.g. also in a marriage) is just not an option. Authenticity and brutal thruthness is the recepe I subscribe to.

I believe all my lifetime masters did too.

In context of – Purpose and Morality

I have been very fortunate.

I have lived in the context of many great things, inventions and persons. I have lived in the era of Johan Cruyff, Zico, Maradona, Laudrup and Messi, in the era of Bjørn Borg, Martina Navratilova and Roger Federer, in the era of Ingemar Stenmark and Gunde Svan, in the era of Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen, and so on and on again (just to mention the sport examples). I can enjoy the daily persuits of social networking, I can listen to music of the great composers, I can light up my house with electric bulbs and in general rely on all the normal things people do and take for granted anno 2010 A.D. 

If I had been living 100 years ago, I would not have been in the context of these great persons and the experiences they have given. Probably, my Purpose in life would have been totally different. Probably, my Morality would have been very different too. We tend to think that these things are “given”, “laws” that we have to obey either as single individuals or in society. But when you think about it, Purpose and Morality, as so many other things in life, are so crucially dependent on their context, especially their context in TIME. If we understand this a bit better, we can better make free from it. To a certain degree.

So lets take it again. The SINGLE person that I truly need to honor the context of is: myself ! And if anybody should be added, it should be my children. The unit of a parent to the successful upbringing of children is the only really universally important thing in our existence. All other issues and subjects remain so heavily on context (and chance), yet we live our lives if the persuit of these contexts, often in vain and in vanity. Why ? Because humans are afraid. Afraid not to.

If you can reach free yourself from the chains of context, you become truly free to choose the contexts you really like, to choose your Purpose and to live your Morality. Your Purpose. Your Morality.

What else can be important ? In the context of – Death.

Marathon #200

Hey, so what is new ? Well, for me I can take delight in turning 25 again and at the same time growing to a new century. Puzzled ? I am of course taking about my numbers of marathons ! Fact is that I ran #200 at beautiful Blokhus, Denmark, last Sunday, together with lots of runnings mates kindly celebrating me.

It was a very special day and it was very special to have just those people around, even though I could mention a long list of friends that I would have loved to see too.

Anyways, the 25-blocks to #200 looks like this:

25 27.08.2006 Landskrona (Sweden) Pictures
50 30.06.2007 Kristianopel (Sweden) Pictures
75 20.04.2008 Zürich (Switerzerland) Pictures
100 02.11.2008 Skovmaren (Denmark) Pictures
125 26.04.2009 London (England) Pictures
150 19.09.2009 Vänersborg (Sweden) Pictures
175 21.03.2010 Rome (Italy) Pictures
200 22.08.2010 Blokhus (Denmark) Pictures

As to be deducted from the list I have completed my second set of 100 marathons in less than 22 months, not bad for a part time dad with a challenging career as well. But then again.. has the time been spend well ? Who knows, really, I guess some choices in life makes other choices or options impossible and I have for sure been quite one-sided on this marathoneering for some time now. But would I have chosen differently with the knowledge I have now ?

Not for a minute !

Mountains, marathons and the pursuit of happiness

I have once again visited one of the most important places on Earth for me, the small hotel Dalseter high up in the norwegians mountains, the place where I learned to ski (age 2), hike (age 4) and swim (age 5) and where I throughout my childhood found salvation in the mountains, in the vast landscapes and the scents of free Nature and summer flowers, where the whistling of the wind and the squirling of the water falls in the valleys ignited the deeper thoughts on the matters of life and death and the pursuit of happiness.

When I watch my own kids now and my fellow contemporaries I realize that I was given a special gift that not many receive, a gift well coined by the author Hermann Hesse: “Happiness is a talent not an object !”.

The mountains help us understand our minute frame in Time. But few people can handle the perception of their own life set in the context to the geological timeframe – against which we become utterly unimportant and so absurdly small. However, if you have buried your entire pack of ancestors and most other important figures from the childhood, you realize that geology stands and mankind falls. You realize that it is really unimportant if you believe in God A or B, if your are rich or poor, if your fellows think well of you or not, actually, all our “conventional must-do’s” become ridiculeous when measured against the timeframe of the mountains and the infite span of Time. You realize that our “realities” are merely interpretations, subject to change and indeed products of the randomness of context for our existence. I realized all this very early in life – in the Norwegian mountains. I guess this is part of why they are so special to me.

Now, Im trying to pass the wisdom to my kids but I realize that it can’t be. Instead, I realize my uniqueness and complete separation from most others. Of most of my friends many will first even understand this in 20-30 years to come, if ever. You should all take delight in not knowing !

I am forced to the opposite and live a life in complete confrontation to truthness, integrity and persuit of personal happiness, all the things the mountains encourage and demand. And no other “normal tasks” in our “normal” everyday world fits this better than… marathon running. In this manner it all adds up nicely: psychologically I return to the mountains in each race – if just for a moment – and to the embedded wisdom and consequence. And in contrast to the deep thinking alone on the mountain sides, I find so many wonderful friends in the running, people with the same passion and the same lust for endurance and curiosity for limit testing. Conceptwise, the marathons become the mountains and here we also fall prey to something bigger than ourselves. Ultimately the marathon timeframe will eat us all in due course.

So both in the mountains and in the marathon pursuit we are left with the same task: to excel in our Time, to create our own happiness and to maintain our important relations – fragile as they are. The Nature will clear out the rest and both the mountains and the marathons will outlast us. And just as the mountains possess a cruel consequence in bad weather and the most beauty of moments in sunshine, just so do the marathons, symbolically. We marathoneers strive to enjoy those special days of sunshine and to endure through the rainy times. We mountaineers anticipate lurking dangers and the shifts of weather – and act accordingly in order to survive.  Remember, the mountains keep no memory of their victims – and our place in History is very soon forgotten, our existence, our careers, our loveaffairs, our families. The mountains stay put, the marathons stay put. We humans do not. We do not !

We only borrow a piece in Time – we have to use it well.

Zermatt marathon 2010 – a lifetime experience !

Saturday, I completed the toughest marathon for me to date, the incredible tough and extraordinary beautiful Zermatt marathon in Switerzerland. Zermatt is residing at the foot of the world-famous mountain Matterhorn, the perhaps most fascinating peak available for ordinary turists to view.

The marathon race started in the valley town St. Niklaus (1085 meters above sea level)…

… and went up through the valley towards and through Zermatt…

… followed by an extreme ascend …

… against the finish at Riffelberg…

… at meters 2582 above sea level, higher up than the highest mountain (Galhöpiggen, 2469) in Scandinavia !!!

Apart from the struggle against gravity and the 2000 heightmeters in the race, the runners also had to fight against an extreme heat with temperatures around 30 degrees and no wind at all. In order words an almost super-human task to complete… happily, I managed, though booking my worst marathontime ever in 194 races… but still, very proud to clear this one off !!!

You find the beautiful picture story here. Enjoy !