Story: No Holiday

Here is a strange  STORY – about not making a holiday:

In late January 2020 – after good business in 2019 – we thought about planning a holiday.
Usually we prefer to leave winter when it is most annoying to us and also before garden season starts again: around February.

We would begin to research destinations which we still would love to see in this lifetime. But this time something was different.

We believe we are no frequent travelers.
We have not been flying that much during the past 23 years – less than one flight per year on average. (Is this a lot compared to others?)

After we made our first long distance flight to amazing Thailand in 2004 we decided that we would generally never fly that far for only a short period of time,
because it is such a hassle to fly, never comfortable and simply did not feel right to jump around in planes only for staying somewhere for a short time and then leave again soon. During that Thailand trip we stayed for 4 weeks and really felt we had a chance to connect with the land, culture and people. It was a wonderful backpackers’s experience.

We always thought that traveling is something very valuable, special, and expensive – especially for the finances of a self-employed artist/photographer
who is always at risk to miss a job while away – as well as for the environment.
For us, traveling is something that should not be taken lightly and should be done very consciously.

Also, we believe that the (cosmic) radiation and the air in airplanes are not so healthy for the human body,
so after this first long distance flight we took in 2004 we decided to only fly when it really makes sense to us
(for example working/producing a project or an artist residency).

Since we have always been interested in a real travel experience, we believe that traveling slowly with time and gratitude is the way we would do it.
As artists we want to immerse deeply into experiencing other cultures and we believe this cannot be done in a „cruise ship“ manner.

We believe flying is a luxury and should be treated as one.
We were never interested when those cheap flights came up that make you jump around Europe for a weekend.
Not only, because we think there can be no healthy correlation between the resources spent and the experience one can have,
but also because we think that one cannot be really there, if one is not really there – arriving on a Friday and leaving on a Sunday.

I am quite sure we would think differently if flying would be possible with 100 % renewable energy and would be CO2 neutral
or if there would be a safe way to beam/transport humans like in STAR TREK.
Everyone who consumes energy and resources has responsibility.

So in 2019 we booked our first real holiday in 7 years. We chose the Seychelles, because we hoped we could still see some healthy corals and snorkel a bit.
The medium intense online research led us to believe that the corals there are still okay.
But: even though we went to supposedly good locations for snorkeling we saw 90 % dead corals. Thom was devastated.
I tried to keep up the holiday mood, and superficially enjoy the surface of the sea,
but we were both very shocked by the ill condition of underwater life in the areas we saw.

The Seychelles already are very eco conscious, because they know that healthy nature is crucial for their (only) economy,
which is tourism. It was sad to see that they are already fighting to keep up the beauty.

We then began a long discussion which went on over several weeks. We dove deep into our conscience:
was it worth spending so much money to see dead corals?
By traveling with such high consumption in CO2 + other poisons, we are definitely contributing to that same climate change
we so much want to help preventing in our daily life and are, of course, therefor in a way partly co-responsible for the dead corals.

Thom soon reached a very radical conclusion:
he decided to make NO HOLIDAY in 2020 because for him, the whole hassle of spending so much money,
being cramped in an airplane, contributing to climate change by that and then being disillusioned by nature out of balance was not worth it for him.

Also: he had checked our climate footprint (WWF tool) earlier and realized
that we are destroying almost all our organic gardening and green lifestyle efforts with one single flight per year.

The result was that our CO2 footprint is better than that of the average German – even including 4 flights in the last 5 years (!).
The worst point is the oil heating in the house we live in, but we are currently unfortunately not in the position to change that.

Thanks to our sustainability choices in all other aspects of our lives which we have been extending over the last 32 years
(Nabiha, becoming eco-conscious at the age of 11) and 23 years (Thom, gaining that same sense inspired by Nabiha at the age of 23)
our CO2 consumption is much less than average, but the flights again add too much CO2 in the end.

So in late January 2020 Thom decided he could not live with this – so no holiday by plane in 2020.

Thom was particularly strict about not flying this year – which was a bit strange.
To me, we already were living by our own „rule“ of reducing possible flights to maximum one per year.

I completely agreed with him on the rational level. But emotionally I began to revolt:
why should we be the only ones forgoing a holiday while everyone else just gives a s*** and flying becomes even more popular each year?
Exploring new strange places, nature and cultures is one of my deepest desires as a photographer and artist.

It made me very sad to realize that if I love nature so much I should not continue damaging Gaia by consuming that much CO2 by flying.

For me, this is a really tough dilemma which I almost can not dissolve at this time of my life.
On the one hand, I want to promote the „unity of mankind“: getting as many people from all over the world closer together in our hearts and minds.
I am taking my individual role and responsibility as an artist seriously.
I want to encourage people from all over the world to connect and exchange thoughts and visions of a healthy life in balance.

On the other hand, I want to protect nature.
But, if „we all“ continue flying (consuming CO2) so much while we are connecting on a global scale (which is great) –
we will destroy the only home we all have at the same time: planet Earth.

So, we urgently need to change.

Flying should be CO2 neutral – this would be my dream!
I strongly believe that traveling helps people to realize that we are all one human species on this planet
and it helps to realize that we are all the same in our hopes, fears, loves and dreams and desires (The „unity“ spirit the world needs…).

I don’t want to imagine a world were traveling is not allowed anymore.
I believe that all transportation must become CO2 neutral and fueled by renewable energy – immediately.
But this will take some time.

As usual, human beings tend to change their behavior only when it really hurts.
Unfortunate it has been too easy to exhaust oil and coal – but now we finally realize the true costs
behind the unconscious exploitation of planet Earth since the industrial revolution began.

(Also we think that compensating flights by paying extra for planting trees is eyewash, firstly because:
the poisons emitted by airplanes/cruise ships are in the air and it is a general difference if poison is emitted or not,
and secondly: young trees cannot compensate much CO2, because they are still too small and still need 10 to 30 years fo grow.
This is why it is so important to protect all trees on the planet that are still here!)

Then there was this moment in our discussion when I said to Thom
„It would be okay for me if EVERYONE would be forbidden to fly!
I would even agree to a worldwide 5 year flight-ban if this would help reduce global warming!
Imagine this: the whole world working together saving CO2 to ward off climate catastrophes!”

Thom and I are willing to cut down our consumption even more and we would still feel rich inside.
During all last years of getting more and more into organic gardening, we realized that we feel more rich and grateful
the more nature we have in our lives and the more healthy the plants and trees that surround us are.

We believe there is a huge potential for all societies with high rates of CO2 to cleverly change to a sustainable society
– without the feeling of loss. The time to change is now.

Just imagine: if reincarnation was real, would you like to come back to planet Earth in let´s say 100/200 or 500 years?
What I mean: maybe we are not only leaving behind this planet for the children,
but for ourselves? So how would you like this planet to be for your next lifetime?

In our discussion about our own ethics towards flying we then came to the conclusion
that flying only every other year also saves at least some CO2.

I humbly accepted my „fate“ of not being able to escape the annoying German winter this year
and began to work on projects that I didn’t find the time for so far (which is very fulfilling).

All this ethical discussion about traveling by airplane happened while the Corona Virus was still in China.
The flights we would have booked would have been between mid February and mid March
– exactly the time when Corona officially arrived in Germany (around Feb 26) and Bavaria started the lockdown on Mach 20 2020.

Looking back to our discussion and Thom´s strong urge of not flying this year now feels like a very impressive intuition
which definitely saved us from a lot of trouble. It now feels like he protected us from an unpleasant experience which would have costed money,
blown a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere and quite sure not have been a proper holiday experience – apart from the risk of contributing to the spread of the virus.

Two of our shows for 2020 have now been postponed to 2021.
It is sad not to be able to exhibit our work physically – but we are now all connected digitally
and a new sense of humility, solidarity and empathy arises.
Maybe our digital tools will be able to help us save the planet and the physical and spiritual health of all humans, too?

We are now enjoying our creative self quarantine and discovering even more wonders that lie within ourselves,
hoping for the world to become more healthy and balanced through this global wake up call.

Stay strong & healthy, everyone!

*Love & Light *

(April 3rd 2020)