Florian is one of the founders and main contributors of CALM AND STORM.
So, who is this guy, and what the hell does he want from us?
A friend once said, Florian is different. Fabulously, unapologetically and sometimes even embarrassingly different.
Alright, you know what? You know, and I know you know, so let’s cut the bullshit. Of course, no “friend” said that. In fact, it is weird as hell writing about Florian in the third person because, surprise!, I AM WRITING THIS SHIT. Who else would do it?
Jeez, I hate writing about myself in the third person. It reminds me of reference letters from my days as a lawyer: I was hard working and successful. I worked in high tier law firms in Austria, in Australia. I worked for one of the most valuable brands worldwide. So yeah, I think it is fair to say that I did a good job in my short career. Everyone was always incredibly sad when I called it quits. However, guess what? I. Always. Had. to. Write. My. Own. Reference. Letters.
Do you think that´s weird? I think it is, and I hereby announce, I shall never ever in my life, write about myself in the third person ever again. Ok, having said that, let´s get back to business:
Yeah, I am different. I don´t know why, but I hardly ever fit in. Never had. Neither in my jeans (I was a well-fed kid) nor otherwise. School was bad, as you can imagine. I was a ghost for girls and a (soft) punching ball for guys.
It was hard at times but had its positives, too: Not confined by particular groups and their customs and habits, I was free to explore the world on my own terms.
To give an example, I grew up and went to school in an upper-middle class town. At 14 I decided to learn boxing. I opened the phone directory and chose a studio, not thinking much about it. It was in a shady area in the nearby capital city. The people there were very different compared to my usual surroundings. Drug dealers, face-tattooed MMA-fighters, drunkards, you name it. It was in stark contrast to my “school life.” In any case, I loved them all for what they were.
Training there taught me a lot about myself, my strengths, my weaknesses, my goals. But most importantly, it taught me to not judge a book by its cover. And that, in turn, opened many doors in the years to come.
I have and always had an insatiable curiosity. For pretty much anything. People… places… food!
Of all things it was people that interest me most. I´ve always loved to hear their stories, to learn about their past, their hopes and dreams. Over the years I developed a good sense of people, and it always strikes me how similar we all are, stripped down to our core, our fears and aspirations. Wealth or poverty, intro- or extrovert, hell, even the place of birth or upbringing. Ultimately, none of that matters.
We are all one, we are all the same, trying to find our way in this strange world.
Believe me, I know what I am talking about. I´ve seen things; my curiosity and fearlessness open many doors, allowing for unfiltered views across a broad spectrum of society.
I´ve done drugs with so called celebrities at high-society parties. I´ve slept on the floor in a dirty 20 sqm room, in a Moroccan slum, together with a bunch of essentially homeless people (some of which had sex right next to me, all while I tried to activate my inner clock so as not to – again – miss my flight back home).
I flew into Monaco for business conferences in a helicopter. I went on construction jobs, even after I finished my studies. I never felt too good for anything. As a matter of fact, even now, besides consulting and writing and other odd jobs, I work as a topless waiter at hen parties. Because why the hell not? I don´t take myself too seriously, and I just love to explore different aspects of our society.
These are all experiences that shape me and how I look at this world.
Something else I´ve always been curious about is social order, governance, pretty much anything that seeks to explain the way we live with each other. For that reason I studied law, which – despite its often non-progressive, even backwards, perspectives – helped me tremendously to understand how this world currently works, which in turn helped me to cut the bullshit and lead a life free from social constraints and relatively unbothered by laws and regulations. Knowing how they come to be helps a lot with not giving a shit.
I believe that curiosity, I mean if you actually act on it, inevitably leads to compassion. It is ignorance and ignorance alone that causes hate. If two people open their hearts and talk to each other, from being to being, they will see their similarities and have a deep understanding for one´s struggles and fears.
As I said, what shaped me irreversibly were numerous encounters with people from very different backgrounds. During my studies, one of my jobs was as an on-board-courier, where I would deliver time- or otherwise sensitive shipments to other countries.
I´ve travelled to so many places, particularly in Northern Africa, always off the beaten track, far away from where tourists would go.
I will never forget my first trip. I was sitting at uni, studying for an exam, when the phone rang. Two hours later I was at the airport and shortly thereafter on my way to Casablanca, Morocco. I hadn´t booked a hotel; there was no time. That´s what I told the local cab driver en route to deliver the package. His response hit me hard: “Do you want to come and stay with me and my family?”
Did I just hear right? I just met this dude and out of the blue he offers to share his house with me? This must be a scam, he might be a crook, why is he inviting me, where is the catch? Thoughts like that were racing through my head. I mean, that´s what we learn from an early age on, right? Don´t trust strangers, everyone is just looking out for themselves, nobody gives something for free.
Thanks to my past experiences, though, and my endless trust in people, the voices in my head were not all too loud. I hesitated for a second and accepted the invitation. We had a beautiful meal, and I got to meet his lovely daughter and wife. The next day he dropped me off in town. No catch, no reason, just love.
Situations like that were plentiful in the years to come. I hardly ever booked a hotel but just dove straight into the places I visited, mostly surrounding myself with poor people, who didn´t have much to their name but happily shared everything. It was so fascinating, jumping from one world into the other. Most flights were business class, a space where attendance and politeness was an expensive commodity and in stark contrast to the unconditional offerings I experienced otherwise.
I could fill books with these stories. Stories about hope. Hope for a better future than the one they were born into. The personification of such hope was Mohammed. An 18-year old boy I met in Tangier, near the harbour. He would try to sneak under trucks to make it onto a ship to Europe. He had been deported a couple of times already, but he never lost his hope. He was such a friendly fella, always smiling, despite his predicament. Mohammed didn´t even own proper shoes, he was walking around with an old pair about 3 sizes too small. He never complained though, entirely focused on the task ahead, to build a future for himself and perhaps – one day – for a little family. Not much to ask, do you think?
Poverty always confused me, even as a child, and these experiences further shaped my hunger for justice and fairness, for love and compassion, towards everyone, all beings, all earthlings. It also alienated me from “normal goals” such as making money or exerting power.
Money does not help in life, it is the opposite really. It replaces our natural urge to grow as a person with the hunt for something very vulgar, something so uninspiring and boring, it would actually be laughable that our world revolves around it, if it weren’t so devastating for so many who aren’t as lucky at the lottery of birth.
Personally, I dropped out of the game and never looked back. Today I live a simple life next to the beach, and I seek to improve myself through calisthenics, yoga and meditation. I don´t have much, but I am happy. And I wish everyone would be.
I see it as my responsibility, in fact it is everybody’s responsibility, to question everything we do, everything there is, to make up our own minds, about us, this world and how all is connected.
I would love you to walk along with me. Let´s explore together, let’s discuss and debate. Let’s change this world for the better. We need it, and we deserve it.
I am happy to answer any questions and I would love to hear what you think. Just shoot me an email: flo (AT) calmandstorm (DOT) org, or add me on Facebook.
PS. If you enjoyed this story (and work too much ;)) make sure to check out “Don´t settle for THAT”, an article capturing the struggle between our natural urge for freedom and self-development and the demands of work and life in our modern society.