Dear Diary, this is a DEEP DOVE on the ANIMAL RESCUE UNIT

Soooo I have launched a podcast. Chances are, that if you are reading this, you already know. It’s the DOVE Podcast – the Diary Of Volunteers on Earth. You can go listen to it on Spotify and on YouTube. But there are indeed people out there who don’t like listening to long-form talks, they prefer reading it. So I’ve been asked why I don’t just upload the transcript somewhere. So here you go. As of now I’ll be posting the transcripts on bearnecessities for your leisure and pleasure!

If you do prefer to listen, and landed here accidentally, be my guest!

Noahs Ark and its animal rescue unit

 I had the pleasure to visit one of the largest animal shelters of the Animal protection association in Austria. The shelter called the Arche Noah, which literally means Noahs Ark. They house mostly dogs, cats and even horses and are constantly looking for new owners for those lovely animals. In the adoption section, they mostly have full-time staff, which is why I instead talked to Margot and Rene. Two volunteers of a different but nevertheless super important section: The animal rescue team. 

Margot, Rene and myself while recording

In total there are roughly 40 volunteers helping with the animal rescue team and there’s also dozens of voluntary dog-walkers who help the team out. Talking to Margot and Rene was fascinating, and yet again I was privileged to learn a lot from them.

Contradictions and slippery slopes? Yes, please!

One of the aspects that was most interesting to me was the relationship we as humans have with animals. And even just stating that circumstance in such a way shows an approach to life that I personally sometimes have difficulty understanding. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m aware how tricky this whole subject is. how many slippery slopes await anyone who is trying to go there and how full of contradictions discussions about it are, if you like it or not. But if you know me, you know that these sorts of tricky topics are my favorite ones to discuss. So here I go.

The animal rescue unit in action.

We have collectively tricked ourselves into believing, as humans, we aren’t animals and therefore are somehow detached from nature. I mean just biologically speaking there are some factors that make our species unique. Opposable thumbs, complex language processing and using tools probably comes to mind. But certain animal species do some of those things as well. And most people who aren’t completely brainwashed by religious ideology agree that we are descendants from apes.

The dolphin did what with the electric eel?

Yet we sometimes behave like gods. Because we have a consciousness, or at least we think so. And because we can even contemplate about a concept like god, or the afterlife or metaphysics.  And because we can attach meaning to things that – at least on the surface – are not vital to our evolutionary success and the survival of our species. Like art or music or money or sex for pleasure. Although on a sidenote, apparently several species are known to pleasure themselves. There supposedly even is a documented case where a dolphin used an electric eel to masturbate. I shit you not…

Just one of the many cute dogs that have been rescued.

So what I am trying to say: This is the human condition, right? And yet we still seem to be rooted in nature. As perfectly shown by natural disasters. I guess we have somehow learned to mitigate damage and protect us from them, but we are not safe from them entirely. We still have to abide natural laws. Unless you happen to be tripping on shrooms or acid or something. And we still are affected by naturally occurring illnesses, like the last three years have shown in an incredible fashion.

Two sides to the same coin

We talked about this human-animal-relationship because paradoxically it seems to be a relationship that is both driven by love and cruelty. Margot and Rene said that they see the best in humans during their time volunteering, but they also see the worst in humans. I can only imagine how mind baffling it can be when you are a pet owner who loves their pet to bits and all of a sudden you have to rescue malnourished and wounded dogs that are close to death and sleep in their own shit from their owners because they “treat them like a dog”. Another example of this contradiction I guess could be that in some cultures certain animals are sacred and other animals are considered to be so dirty you don’t even want them, let alone keep them as a pet.

Some pets get lucky, others not so much.

I guess it’s these sorts of contradictions and paradoxes that life as we know it has developed on and is build upon. And even though we all struggle to handle and digest that sometimes, I believe we have to radically accept the fact that there is no coin without two sides. Most of the time, there isn’t a black and white type of solution. Rene figured that somehow we got stuck in this sort of black and white thinking where everything needs to be more extreme, faster, larger, higher and so on. And that this is not just a thing concerning the relationship between animals and humans. For him, this whole notion of how bad we actually treat animals was a reason why he joined the animal rescue in the first place.

Action as an antidote to negativity

For Margot, it was slightly different, but her reasoning was also fascinating, and I guess she’s the first guest on DOVE who described it in the following way. She felt, the news and all the negativity that is being transported in our media landscape simply became unbearable. And having worked for a well established newspaper for 2 years, I can safely say that she is not the only one out there with this kind of sentiment. I could imagine that this very much resonates with some of you out there listening right now.

Margot at work

So at some point she just thought to herself: Enough is enough, you are only getting negative input, and it just hurts. It’s just painful. And Margot acknowledges that for a lot of people, this sort of pain can be paralyzing. I’ve certainly had phases where I thought the pain became too much, and I didn’t feel like leaving my bed. I’m not sure if this is what psychiatrists call a depressive episode, but it sounds like exactly that. Now, instead of letting this feeling paralyze her, Margot did a 180 turn and went exactly the opposite way. She decided she needed to do something, She needed to contribute so that the negativity becomes less. And because “children and animals are the ones that can’t help themselves” it made sense for her to pick an activity in one of those fields. So she started to volunteer as a dog-walker and eventually switched over to animal rescue.

The mission of DOVE

To me this story of hers was very inspirational because I guess in a sense this is at leas in part exactly what I am sort of trying to accomplish with DOVE and everything that is to come. To create some sort of positive feeling within people that listen to this podcast or watch and listen to my stories on Social Media. And again, please don’t get me wrong. This is not to bypass any sort of negative emotion or feeling. I am a huge proponent of the idea of incorporating and sometimes maybe even embracing our negative emotions. Some of the best art is created because of pain and sadness. Anger can lead to incredibly important and in some cases long-overdue cultural and social changes. I could go on and on. But I totally understand anyone who is moving away from established media as well as social media because they feel like it’s becoming hard to bear. 

But unfortunately, this is how our attention works. It seems to be wired in our brains, that negative things catch more attention. And since the media logic follows the attention logic, it’s obvious that more negative and controversial stories are being pushed by most “mainstream media”. Because they simply perform the best. So Margot found a way for herself to sort of ship around this problem. And she assertively told me it was the best thing she could have done.

Injured kitties and „hungry“ dogs

One more thing that I don’t want to keep from your English-speaking listeners out there are the most awkward, weird or emotional stories that they have to tell from volunteering with animal rescue. And it is safe to say that they are not for the faint-hearted, so consider yourselves warned. Rene right away admitted that the memory that got stuck most with him was very emotional. On like his second day volunteering, they were called to save the life of a little injured kitty. As they were driving to take the cat to a vet its condition became worse and worse and in the end there was barely any sign of life. As you can imagine he cried for hours and hours, so I guess that this volunteering job, as any ambulance or rescue organization, does have very, very emotional moments.

Margots story was definitely on the more morbid side of things. They were called by the police because the owner of a dog had passed away. As they got there the Police warned them already, but they were like: Ah common we’re in the medical field, we are used to seeing things. Well… turns out that the cute dog had started eating off the man’s face as well as his private parts, and it was actually gruesome enough for them to want to leave the scene again. I immediately had to think of one scene in one of my favorite shows, „Malcolm in the Middle“ where the family has to attend the funeral of their aunt Helen. And when Francis, the oldest son, calls to ask about her passing, Dewey the youngest son just simply tells him “Cats ate her face”. According to Margot the dog was super cute, and he hats actually enough food and water, but apparently it is not uncommon for dogs to do this, if their owners pass away. Beats me as to why that is, but I guess dogs doing dog things. Just like humans doing human things.

And with that, I guess it’s time to wrap up this week’s DEEP DOVE on the animal rescue. A special thank you to Margot and Rene for being a part of DOVE and for providing such valuable insights into their volunteering experiences as animal rescuers. For me, it was a reminder of the importance of treating all living beings with the kindness and respect that we would like to be treated with. At least by humans, I guess. Because if I get a carnivore pet, I now am pretty sure it will just end up eating my face. After all, we are very much part of nature, even despite our perceived detachment from it. We all came from mother earth and we all return to it.

Much peace and Love, smooches on the belly!


Of getting out of bed and Stutz, the best documentary all year

Image Source: Netflix

„Stutz“, a Netflix-documentary by actor Jonah Hill about his psychiatrist Dr. Phil Stutz, is the best piece of content I’ve consumed all year. Here’s why I think everyone should watch it and why I think it has the potential to change our lives.

First of all, let me add a disclaimer: This is the first time I am reviewing something like a documentary. Usually this place is about my travels and experiences but in the future you will hopefully read stuff like this more often. As always, I’m super grateful for any sort of feedback. If you’re reading this you probably know how to get in touch with me anyways. So here we go.

„Of getting out of bed and Stutz, the best documentary all year“ weiterlesen

Vom Aufstehen und Stutz, der besten Dokumentation des Jahres

Image Source: Netflix

„Stutz“, eine Netflix-Dokumentation von Schauspieler Jonah Hill über seinen Psychiater, Dr. Phil Stutz, ist der beste Content, den ich in diesem Jahr konsumiert habe. Hier sind die Gründe, warum ich denke, dass jeder ihn sehen sollte und warum ich glaube, dass er das Potenzial hat, unser Leben zu verändern.

Als Erstes möchte ich einen Disclaimer anbringen: Dieser Post ist das erste Mal, dass ich einen etwas rezensiere. Normalerweise geht es hier ja um meine Reisen, Abenteuer und Erfahrungen. In Zukunft werdet ihr solche Dinge hoffentlich öfter lesen. Wie immer bin ich sehr dankbar für jede Art von Feedback. Wenn ihr das hier lest, wisst ihr wahrscheinlich sowieso, wie ihr mit mir in Kontakt treten könnt. Als dann, auf geht’s

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Of discarding masks, madness and hot discussions

It feels like the summer is over, kids are back in school. Best time to revisit one of the highlights of my summer: Scoutcamp!

A new cycle begins. The school year in Austria has started again. And traditionally with that, the new scout year starts again as well. More than overdue to write a few paragraphs on the big highlight of every scout year: The summercamp. If there are actually some among you, that have never had anything to do with scouting (Where are the rotten tomatoes? Into the pillory with them!), the following video might give you a glimpse of what Scoutcamps are all about.

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Vom Masken ablegen, Wahnsinn und heißen Diskussionen

Der Sommer ist gefühlt vorbei, Kinder und Jugendliche gehen wieder zur Schule. Bester Zeitpunkt, um einen Blick zurück auf eines der Highlights meines Sommers zu werfen: das Pfadilager!

Ein neuer Zyklus beginnt. Das Schuljahr hat wieder begonnen. Damit beginnt traditionellerweise auch ein neues Jahr für Pfadfinder:innen. Längste Zeit, noch ein paar Absätze zum großen Highlight eines jeden Pfadijahres zu schreiben: dem Sommerlager. Falls jemand unter euch ist, der noch überhaupt gar keine Berührungspunkte mit den Pfadis hatte (Her mit den faulen Tomaten, an den Pranger mit ihnen!), gibt euch vielleicht folgendes Video einen kleinen Einblick.

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Of cabbage salad, 7/11 and WA!

Notice that this blog post was first published in German roughly seven years ago. You can find the original version here. I slightly adapted some parts.

Showering, doing the laundry and sleeping in a bed. Things that might seem normal to most. If you are a Scout during July and August, these things are not a given at all. Because these months make up summer camp season – at least in the Northern Hemisphere. For instance I just came back from Croatia where I had a blast with my group of 16- to 20 year old Ranger and Rover scouts.

But every 4 years, the World Organization of the Scout Movement holds a very special event. A World Scout Jamboree (WSJ). 2015 I had the privilege to attend the 23rd WSJ in Kirara-Hama in the Yamaguchi prefecture in the South of Japan. Roughly 34.000 Scouts from 153 countries and regions all across the globe made their way to Japan. I was one of about 8000 so called ISTs. The International Service Team is in charge that 26.000 scouts may experience a smooth 10 days at the WSJ.

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Von warmen Herzen, freiem Willen und Beeinträchtigungen

Oder: Wie man die Welt ein wenig besser hinterlassen, als man sie vorgefunden hat.

„Versuche, die Welt ein wenig besser zu hinterlassen, als du sie vorgefunden hast. Und wenn du am Zuge bist, zu sterben, kannst du fröhlich sterben. Mit einem Gefühl, dass du deine Zeit niemals verschwendet, sondern immer dein Bestes gegeben hast.“

Dieses Zitat geht auf Sir Robert Baden-Powell zurück. Einen britischen Armee-Offizier und den Gründer der weltweiten Pfadfinder:innen-Bewegung. Und wenn ihr mich fragt, ist dieses Zitat in seiner Banalität absolut genial!

Wie meine treue Leserschaft vielleicht weiß, habe ich mit 7 Jahren selbst mit der Pfadfinderei begonnen. Oder eigentlich bin ich von meinen Eltern begonnen worden. Wie man sich vielleicht vorstellen kann, war ich aus diesem Grund oft genug Ziel von Spott und Hohn: „Hast du heute schon einer alten Dame über die Straße geholfen? Verkaufst du demnächst wieder Kekse von Tür zu Tür?“ Ihr wisst schon. Kinder können Arschlöcher sein. Mittlerweile bin ich allerdings davon überzeugt, dass diese Entscheidung vor knapp 23 Jahren, die beste Entscheidung meiner Eltern ever war. Shoutout an euch, Irmi und Klemens, ich werd euch ewig dankbar sein!

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Of warm hearts, free will and different abilites

Or: How to leave the world a better place than you found it.

„Try and leave this world a little better than you found it, and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate, you have not wasted your time but have done your best.“

This quote goes back to Sir Robert Baden-Powell, a British Army officer and the founder of the world-wide Scout Movement. And if I may say so: It is very ingenious in it’s banality.

As some of my loyal readership might know, I joined the Scout movement when I was about 7 years old. Or my parents made me join, I should say. As you can imagine, I’ve certainly been made fun of for saying that I am a Scout. „Have you helped an elderly lady across the street today? Do you sell Girl Scout cookies?“ You get the point. Kids can be assholes. However, today I am convinced it has been one of the best decisions my folks have ever made for me. Shoutout to Irmi and Klemens, I’ll be eternally grateful!

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Wie es sich anfühlt, 30 zu sein. Oder: Von Bären und Schmetterlingen

30. The big Three-O. Drei Jahrzehnte. Ein Runder, wie der Volksmund sagen würde. „Wie fühlt es sich an, 30 zu sein?“, bin ich in der letzten Woche und auch im Vorfeld schon gefragt worden. Eine Frage und ein Anlass, der mir gewichtig genug erschien, diesen schlummernden Bären eines Blogs aus dem jahrelangen Winterschlaf zu holen. Was Bären mit Schmetterlingen gemeinsam haben, wird am Ende dieses Texts vielleicht klarer sein. Oder – wer mich kennt, ahnt es schon – halt auch nicht.

Auf die Frage, wie sich 30 sein anfühlt, meldet sich sofort mein innerer Günter Neukirchner: „Die nächste deppate Frog!“ (Bitte nicht böse sein, falls du zu jenen gehörst, die mich das in letzter Zeit gefragt haben. Hab dich trotzdem lieb!) Aber was antwortet man als 30-jähriger, männlich gelesener, beseelter Fleischhaufen auf diese Frage? Es fängt ja schon einmal damit an, dass mir die längste Zeit meines bisherigen Daseins sowieso nicht bewusst war, was ich gerade fühle.

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How it feels to turn 30. Or: Of bears and butterflies

30. The big Three-O. Three decades. A round one, as the Austrian would say. „How does it feel to be 30?“ I’ve been asked that quite a lot over the last week and even before my birthday. A question and an occasion that seem important enough to bring this slumbering bear of a blog back from its years of hibernation. Perhaps at the end of this text it will have become more obvious what bears have in common with butterflies. Or – if you know me, you might have guessed – not.

My instant reaction to that question has been something along the lines of “Stupid question, next question!” (Please don’t feel offended if you’re one of those people who’ve asked me that recently. Love you anyway!) But how do you answer this question as a 30-year-old male animated pile of flesh? It starts with the fact that for the longest time of my existence I haven’t even been aware of what I was feeling whatsoever.

Baby bear with momma bear
Always been a skillful nose-picker.

The feeling of change

The reason for this circumstance is certainly worth a blog entry of its own. I’ll just boil it down to a mixture of „difficult social relationships between men and feelings“ + „fear of confronting one’s own emotional world (greetings from childhood (micro)traumas) + „lack of (self) awareness“. Which makes it all the more difficult to answer what a birthday feels like.

Some may (or have to, depending on perspective) count themselves among the illustrious circle of those who get to regularly enjoy my mumbo-jumbo. If you do, you probably know that in the last few weeks, months, maybe even 2 – 3 years I have tried to learn more about topics such as personality development, psychology, philosophy and also spirituality. And – who would’ve thought – that brought a whole lot of insight with it. I have already shared some of that in previous blog entries. With the end of the bearish hibernation, there will also be a lot to come. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a wild fucking ride!

Sweaty and meditating in Indonesia

One of those insights is definitely that everything is constantly changing. If the scales in my parents‘ bathroom had vocal cords (I don’t have one myself for good reasons 😉), they would sing you a song about it. Most of you will now think “Duh Captain Obvious”. But it is still a realization that – for me at least – comes along with a whole bunch of interferences.

Above all, the fact that there is no way to avoid and escape change. Therefore, we better embrace and accept aging and at some point our own demise. Sorry, if this happens to trigger existential fears in anyone. (The great team of Kurzgesagt has summarized this in a lovely clip) However, it’s part of the game as long as Silicon Valley doesn’t discover the philosopher’s stone. And as long as one doesn’t put their faith in reincarnation. But more on that in another post.

Homemade third-life-crisis

Returning readers may have noticed by now: This is not a good ol’ bearnecessities-travel blog entry. Just like myself, bearnecessities may well be going through some changes. But you’ll know what I’m talking about eventually.

In the first draft of this post, this is where I started blabbering about feeling like a cocooned chrysalis about to become a butterfly. Because change and metamorphoses and ladeeda. But to be honest: fuck that, butterflies my ass!

Frankly, I would have every reason to think turning 30 was really shitty and awful. Don’t get me wrong. I am quite aware of how ridiculously privileged I am. However, there’s a but. I am still being confronted with societal requirements, norms and expectations. And between us, sometimes I struggle coping with that.

“What? You haven’t accumulated any significant property? What, you still haven’t climbed the second step of the corporate ladder? What, you don’t even have someone by your side to increase life on this earth? Well, big PHAT “Yeeearp!” Social media takes it one step further. Stories, reels et cetera essentially suggest to constantly compare ourselves to others. Add some pinches of global circumstances that, all optimism aside, are going to challenge us. Et voila: Ready is your homemade Third-Life-Crisis.

Follow the honey, get stung by bees

Luckily, since last time I looked in the mirror – alongside marvelously thick chest hair – I still had a bear and not a butterfly tattooed on my chest. That is to say: Yes, loving all that change and development. But me personally, I don’t want to be irritated, seduced and led by my own social conditioning.

Evidence: Bears and chest hair

Again, I am aware of my extreme privilege. But my perspective is the only one I can authentically talk about. And to be frank: Your own conditioning, the oftentimes wrong believes we’ve taken on and the goals imposed by society is something that one may want to dismantle at some point anyway. Regardless their personal perspective and privilege.

With all the change in my metaphorical backpack of a character I’d much rather continue to follow the scent of honey, even if at the end of the day there is a hive full of bees waiting for me. I’d much rather screw up and learn from it. I want to go my own way and create my own timeline in this life. I want to collect experiences and memories that nobody can take from me at the end of the day. You catch my drift.

Embrace the paradox

On some given days, this works really well. On others, it does not. At all. Sometimes this… let’s call it “way to live one’s life” feels extremely motivating, almost euphoric. And on other days it feels depressing and sucks ass big time. But if the last few years have taught me one more thing, it’s that life is full of paradoxes and contradictions. It teems with dichotomies and duality. For me, it was a tough pill to swallow but life as an animated pile of flesh on planet Earth is goddamn ambivalent. And the way I see it, the only way is to endure, even embrace that!

Now you have your answer. That’s the essence of what it feels like to be 30. Getting older is awesome and awful at the same time. But once one has accepted that our earthly lives are finite and – loosely based on the Stoics – once one has internalized the concept of “Memento Mori”, one can really begin to live! And now I’m getting a butterfly tattoo, maybe even on my ass!

Until next time, kisses on your bellies.

Your friendly neighborhood butterfly.