I met Ivo during my first Tellington training (he was walking on his hands through the arena). I found him very inspiring and therefore decided to visit him in Amsterdam, where he was studying at the Knowmads Business School. (This visit turned out to be a life shaping event for me, mostly because of Ivo's questions). I am currently living at his mothers', Bibi, and I interviewed him just before he left to live in Chile for few months. Until now, Ivo's career as a Changemaker and Knowmad has included, among many MANY other things, creating Knowmads Sevilla and holding a TEDx Talk about places of Hope.
What makes me happy... That's a good question!
As we talk, Tiponi and Mio, a dog and a tomcat, play around us.
I suppose this would be a good example of something that really gives me joy – watching people and animals play, in a real game. I'm still not sure though, if there's a difference between being happy and seeing something that makes you happy.
What makes me happy is watching people and animals bring out the very best in one another and in themselves. Watching people doing things they are good at –like when somebody discovers what it is he or she loves doing, and then does it with pride – or watching group dynamics... That moment of connection, which suddenly enables real collaboration. It is being able to observe, as well as to experience, moments when things begin to flow, that makes me happy. These moments are usually interwoven with other people.
I believe, there are different forms of happiness. Sometimes I find myself in a frame of mind, which allows me to experience everything as a game. I'm not entirely sure how or why this occasionally happens, but when it does, no matter what the circumstances, I am able to respond playfully. I love this mentality, because no matter what happens, I am still able to enjoy the moment...it doesn't matter if my surroundings are positively or negatively charged...I will still enjoy myself. This is simply a wonderful way of being, and when it happens I try to make it last as long as possible.
...suddenly the cat jumps into the washing basket with Ivo's white laundry. Both, Ivo and the dog, want him to get out.
Back to the question... I experience different kinds of happiness in different situations. Being confronted within the realms of what I am interested in, also makes me happy, IF the situation is challenging enough. Challenging social situations would be a good example for this, say a conflict in a community that requires me to work as a mediator or facilitator.
It is only within the context of my interests, however, that I enjoy tackling a challenge. Dealing with this kind of challenge can make me happy. If, however, it is a problem I can solve easily, the element of joy disappears and it just feels like a waste of time. This satisfaction or enjoyment I get from solving problems does not only apply to external or social situations, but also to situations in which I have to solve my own problems, like getting in trouble on a ski tour.
Something else which gives me joy is Learning. The ability to progress and improve. For example, over the last few years, I have been working with the concept of boundaries. With setting boundaries and acknowledging what my limits are. Only recently, I realized, that through this work things that I used to find very difficult have become easier. This feeling of achievement at the end of a process makes me happy.
...When I think about it, I could talk about this for a very long time...so I will give one last example of what makes me happy. The chance to take part in, and experience, social situations in which each individual is an expert in his or her field, can be very enjoyable. In such social situations, you know that you can rely on each individual within a certain framework... Encountering and partaking in these kinds of social exchanges can be awesome.
Hmm... The never ending question... This is, in fact, a question which I have asked myself very often over the last few years. When you are travelling and you meet people, the first two questions you are asked are: What's your name? and Where do you come from? For a long time I struggled to answer the second question. ...Where do you come from?...Well...I have an Austrian passport, but I grew-up in Germany and....but that's not the right answer... And so the conversation, as well as my own personal reflections, would continue. Somewhere along the road, I realized, that the only right, or rather honest, answer for me, was: I don't know. This answer, however, is normally not sufficient. One must know where they come from...It was the frequent confrontation with this question, and with it the bigger concept of home, which helped me to realize that home, is not necessarily ones country or place of birth. For many people it is... but it doesn't have to be. After this realization, I could think of many places where I had felt at home. The feeling of home though, is often very closely connected with people. This I discovered by revisiting some of the places which had been a home to me, but without the people I associated with the places, they no longer offered me the same feeling of home.
Then there's something which I find really strange, I can't explain it. I have this absolutely unexplainable feeling of being home, when I am in Andalusia. It doesn't make any sense though. I didn't grow-up there. Not a single member of my family comes from there, and yet, since the very first time I travelled there, I knew: This is home. It is there that I feel most comfortable...content. Out of all the places and different countries I have visited, it is the only place where I feel complete. Where nothing is uncomfortable and I know: Everything is okay. This feeling of arrival and completeness also applies to the farm I have been staying on the Cañada, the Finca where I lived for the last five months, and Sevilla. In these places I can just be ME. I haven't experienced this feeling of complete satisfaction, wholeness and acceptance anywhere else.
Then there is another component, namely, the saying: Home is where the heart is. I think most people interpret this saying in such a way as to mean, home is where ones loved ones are; Family and friends. I also used to interpret it in that way, until I realized, my heart is here in my chest! That means, my home is here...within me. This realization resulted in quite a long process of reflection which started with the question: Am I really at home within myself? For a long time, I thought, that because I don't feel at home in any specific place, I must be at home within myself, and that because of this I am able to make anywhere my home. This was before I discovered Andalusia. I think feeling at home within oneself does have a lot to do with home though! - It is important for me, to give myself a safe place within myself to call home...Safe as well as interesting. On the one hand home is safety, but if it becomes a place only associated with safety and ease, it becomes too comfortable! It must also be interesting! I need both of these components to feel at home within myself.
The next step, is to feel at home with people. This is something which I didn't have for a long time. I discovered this possibility for the first time, when I joined Knowmads. I think I must have been about 21 years old. A few years later, while reflecting on my relationship (at the time), I realized, that my own safety, and social connectedness, don't have to be two isolated things. I can enjoy both of them together... Maybe that is the Ideal. The ability and freedom to feel at home in a relationship, within a group and in a place. All three combined. I think this is what I will try to find. This is what I'm looking for.
Like with all things, however, there is of course another perspective: The need to leave home. To get away from its warmth and safety. Places in my world are always changing and evolving...If I stay in my home town too long... Maybe I have to leave in order to be able to come home again.
One thing that had a huge impact on me, was my mother and her work. I think that the Tellington method has influenced my life greatly because I received this very particular kind of contact from the very beginning. At some point I realized, that I have something that many others don't have; The consciousness of touch. An understanding of how light and profound at the same time it can be, to be conscious of one's own body. Even though I often forget it, my body has a grounded, basic knowledge, of subtlety, sensitivity and contact which it searches for. A fundamental tendency to strive towards freedom; Towards harmony and understanding. Even if I am sometimes discontent because of this, it is the TTouch work which opened me to this acknowledgement and understanding.
The biggest influence in my life, however, has been that horse in the picture behind you. It's very difficult to describe. Through my work and relationship with Jezabel, I have been able to realize some unbelievably important things for myself, but like I mentioned, I can't seem to find the right words to describe exactly what it is she has given me....Ideas about life...connections, developments and the importance of development.
One of the things Jezabel has taught me, is the importance of discipline. I wasn't taught this growing up. I was brought up in a very anti-authoritarian manner, meaning, I never learnt that sometimes one has to just get on and do things....except for doing the dishes, cleaning up and mucking out the stables of course, but being forced to work was not part of my childhood. With Jezabel, however, I had to learn to push myself! If I made one wrong move around her, the consequence was a weeks' worth of grumpy horse, without exception!
Jezabel taught me the importance and necessity of doing things properly; down to the smallest detail. If I wasn't absolutely conscious while working with her, she knew, and responded. From the basics, like saddling up and mounting, to the way in which I breathed around her, she was completely aware of my consciousness. If I was not completely concentrated on our interaction, we were not able to work together. It just wouldn't work! I think our interaction has probably been one of the most influential experiences in my life.
When I was a child, I often asked myself if 'intelligent living' existed. I wasn't sure if people where really intelligent...I'm not sure where this question came from, but Jezabel helped me to answer it. She proved to me that there is such a thing as 'intelligent living'. I think that this question might initially have manifested itself, because of how predictable people are, and she showed me through her surprisingly intelligent behaviour and consistent awareness.
Knowmads has also had a big impact on my life because it managed to give me everything I was looking for. I wanted complete freedom. I wanted to be absolutely challenged and unconditionally loved, and Knowmads somehow managed to fulfill these. The only task which was given to me by Knowmads was: Cope with yourself. And this was really challenging. I think the most important thing I learnt at Knowmads, was acceptance. Challenges come and go and life carries on. Be honest and try hard. Just do your very best.
...It's difficult to identify individual moments from the past which one might consider to hold most importance because moments are not isolated. Each moment is connected to what happened before it, and what came after it...a very long chain of actions and reactions...
The Cañada has also had a very big impact on my life, with regards to what I consider to be real life. I was 16 when I visited the Cañada for the first time, I was really enthusiastic, because there was nothing fake or superficial. Things are done because they need to be done, and not because someone else has told you to do so. This principle of doing what is necessary, what makes sense, is something I have only ever experienced at the Cañada. I find it very difficult, therefore, to practice this way of being, when I am not there. There are so many mind games and social constructs which get in the way of what is really important... but at least I know that real life does exist.
Cats' question: Have you ever experienced something like a failure, which then turned out to be a blessing in disguise?
Constantly! It is such a commonplace to say that: You have to make mistakes to learn. After giving up Knowmads Sevilla, I often asked myself: Was that a defeat, or not? I still haven't been able to reach a conclusive answer to this question. If I had to make a decision right now, I'd say Yes, it really was. When I look at it in more detail though, I can see some truth in this statement. For example, that I really wanted to learn and explore and therefore couldn't complete it, but I had to just keep trying different things. And there were many good things about it.
I have been in two relationships which I would describe as being significant failures. The first relationship in which I really failed, caused me to ask myself, what it really means to love. It came to this, because of the awful feeling I was left with. I have never suffered as much as I did during the months that followed. I had to ask myself: This can't be right. It should be good...but it hurts SO bad. There must be something which I haven't understood, if love is something so wonderful, I can't believe it should hurt like this. What I'm experiencing can't be love. It was in this moment that I realized, I have no idea what it actually is. I really am clueless. Funnily enough, I had just been given the book “The Art of Loving”, as a present, in which it's exactly described, what Love is.
When I start training a new horse, I often make a lot of mistakes at the beginning of the process. This used to really annoy me, until I realized, every horse functions differently - So I can't know what is right or wrong at the beginning. It is inevitable that I will make mistakes...In fact, I have to make mistakes. I must just be careful that they aren't too bad. Since this realization, I consciously make mistakes until I have a break-through, and something functions. This is something I would like always to remember - In situations where I am insecure, or don't know how to behave, I can then remind myself, to make as many mistakes as necessary, for something positive to happen. When you approach situations with this mentality, strangely enough, more often than not, many unexpected good things happen. I think that this approach is very positive, and can result in a lot of fun! One just needs quite a lot of patience...but positive results are usually more quickly achieved, using this method, as opposed to trying to get everything right the first time round.
Ivo's question: What is your art?
Translation from German to English: The great Emily van Zyl
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