By Christof Jauernig
What does an “analyst” do?
I mean the kind of person who bears that word somewhere in his or her job title…
Maybe I also mean any kind of person who bears that word somewhere within his or her self-image….
Well, he does different things. But basically he cuts a thing or a situation into pieces in order to understand the thing or the situation better. The little fragments are kind of easier to handle. As long as he knows and understands the pieces, he hopes, he will also be able to know and understand the whole. Thus, by understanding how, for instance, little pieces of a situation developed over time in the past, he hopes that he will be able to predict how the situation, in the form of its little pieces, will continue to develop in the future. When an analyst wants to decide for or against exposing himself to a certain situation, he makes two lists. On one list he collects the pieces of the situation he expects he will like, and on the other one he collects the pieces of the situation he expects he will not like. If the list of likeable pieces is longer, he may decide to go for the situation, because he believes he will probably like it. A lot of expectation, though not a lot of certainty.
In our increasingly complex world analysis is needed, and so are analysts. However, the analyst’s dilemma in life is that he will never ever know and understand all the pieces that form a thing or a situation. Because things and situations are so much more than an aggregation of pieces. They are a whole. They don’t want to be cut into pieces. They don’t want to be figured out. Their deepest essence is invisible, cannot be known, and cannot be analyzed. If their perceived pieces are one plus one, they are three. The true beauty, energy, magic of many things does not consist of what can be measured, labeled, assessed, understood. Thus, the analyst, by being totally occupied with measuring, labeling, assessing in order to be able to understand, approve or disapprove, deprives himself of seeing the beauty which is all around him. He does not really see the world as it is but only those aspects of it he can recognize, label and digest. He sees pieces. His thoughts have covered his eyes with a veil.
I used to be an analyst.
So I sat in a management consultancy firm researching developments taking place in the banking sector. Working with data and information as reflections of the past and for projections of the future. Building and substantiating constructs of ideas. High-speed intellectuality within a profit-oriented environment full of cold logic. A permanent view of the unpleasant symptoms of a sickened system.
Piece by piece, sense began to leak from my office and breathing became strenuous. But being used to discontent and the seemingly “inevitable” as well as a hesitation to rethink things or forgo a decent salary had altogether closed my eyes to the possibility of change.
For the time being.
Only when the burden got too heavy was I able to let it go. Through a decision in which my intuition, not my intellect, took the driver’s seat. The decision to quit my job.
At that moment a feeling of warmth entered my chest and stayed there for days. This perception was the first thing I noticed upon waking up every morning and the last before falling asleep in the evenings.
The spell was broken.
Letting go set off a change in the way I perceived the world. I just felt as if I was suddenly seeing more through my heart. The trees surrounding me seemed to emanate a different sort of beauty and aliveness. All of a sudden, they no longer appeared faceless in my eyes. But friendly. Like siblings. The merry-go-round of thoughts in my head slowed down. And as the dominance of thinking began to wane, any fears I’d harbored of an uncertain future and of a lot more vanished as well.
From there, quitting my job remained a mere formality.
I was free, and because the world looked different to me now, I wanted to get to know it again. I bought myself an airline ticket, subleased my apartment and packed my backpack for a journey through Southeast Asia.
Within half a year I travelled over 20,000 kilometers, including four and a half thousand on a scooter. Through eight countries. It turned into a journey of amazement. Of observation. Of magical moments. Of joy. Of connectedness with everything that surrounded me. Without any attempt to “understand”, to classify, to judge it. No travel guides to intellectually penetrate historical sites and their past.
Instead, I wandered silently through captivating places, breathing in the atmosphere. Letting go of the past and the future. Basking in the present moment. The beauty of the world, which revealed itself to me when I stopped trying to explain it to myself, was breathtaking.
I started to take photographs along the way. Gripped by the moment, I’d intuitively select my motives and angles, release the shutter… Moments entirely free of thinking. Such energetic beauty in my viewfinder that it was almost painful at times. I shared the pictures with friends on Facebook. Later, I added texts about my experiences. Outer and inner illustrations of the happiest time of my life so far.
As I found myself in reverence again and again, stunned by the beauty of the whole, I realized the analyst had said a silent goodbye.
The story unfolds in:
GEDANKEN VERLOREN | UNTHINKING – The Analyst Who Quit to See the World with His Heart. Virtual Exhibition with Photos and Texts from Southeast Asia: www.unthinking.me
This article is partly based on text passages originally composed for the exhibition.
About the Author: Born and living in Germany, Christof Jauernig worked as an analyst for many years, authoring or co-authoring several studies, articles and books, mainly on the financial services sector, including “Sustainable Banking“. After resigning from his job at a management consultancy firm in the end of 2014 he embarked on a 6-month backpacking trip through Southeast Asia as mentioned in this article. Since his return he has endeavored to process the profound impressions his journey provided him with artistically by creating and publishing a virtual exhibition containing photos from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Bali/Indonesia as well as scenic descriptions and poetry which complement the photography and illustrate his “inner journey“. With his exhibition, Christof hopes to reach, inspire and encourage people, particularly those who feel an urge or a desire to reexamine their own life situation.
The virtual exhibition and an accompanying blog are accessible via www.unthinking.me.
Image taken from the exhibition.