About

A lot of people have tried to find a drawer for me. And maybe you're looking for one for me too. People do this to orientate themselves, to classify their experiences and to understand. For me, it's important to understand that I don't fit into any of these boxes. And there are probably many other people who are much more than what is written on their drawer.

I grew up in middle-class circumstances. My father was a professor, my mother was an chemist but stayed at home, and later a taylor. I have a younger brother, we first lived in Berlin and then in the small town of Butzbach in Hesse / Germany. I was considered a model child, always behaved as expected, I played the violin and went to a private Christian school. My parents assumed that after I got a good high school diploma, I would study mechanical engineering or industrial engineering at a university and then commute to a large, well-known company with my briefcase. I suspected early that this would be a problem for me, but I did not have a clear concep in mind.

Many people back then described me as too serious, others as precocious. Very early on, I took responsibility for things that didn't interest others at all. It was seething inside me. There was a volcano filled with magma. I subconsciously suppressed it as best I could because otherwise I feared withdrawal of love. When I was 15, a cashier at a supermarket told me, “Don’t look so angry!” I was shopping for a five day hike with the Boy Scouts. The boys I led were only two years younger than me. I convinced their parents to hold this event without adults. They entrusted me with their boys for the five days. We camped illegally in the Odenwald and cooked on an open fire in the woods. Now that I'm a dad myself, that seems completely unthinkable. At that time there were no elder people in our group. They had left, two years before this purchase. Together with my sandbox friend, we decided at the tender age of 13 that this group would stay alive. It still is today. My sandbox friend isn't. We were the dream team. The tumor transported him to the other side in 2020. Due to the Corona restrictions, I wasn't even allowed to say goodbye to him properly. We will meet again at a different time.

In 1985 I saw three films in the auditorium of the Butzbach elementary school together with other students. The first was about the idea that the air is so polluted that people can only survive with gas masks. The second illustrated what happens when there is no drinking water left. In the third film, people dug through meter-high mountains of garbage that covered the world. I had just moved from smog-ridden Berlin to central Hesse, where I was particularly looking forward to the garden and my cat.

  

At the time, I was not aware that I was in the 2% of the world's population who were highly empathetic. It was to be almost four decades before I finally learned that. It would have explained to me at the time why the films left most children quite cold, but left me stunned and irrevocably burned deep into my brain.

The Berlin Wall fell on my 12th birthday. I, who was born in West Berlin and feel the inner pain of a stranger on the train platform, sat spellbound in front of the television and could not believe it.

I traveled from the age of 13. Everywhere. I wanted to know everything, about as many people, cultures, nature, and above all how everything is connected. Europe, America, Africa, Asia, New Zealand. Preferably by bike or backpack. I found quite a few answers. And more questions. I understood why in 2004 the people of Vietnam had no nerve for nature, with an annual income of $400 and a generation wiped out by the war. I understood why, in South Africa in 2002, white people entrenched themselves with barbed wire in their own homes and employede black housekeepers. I understood why the rebels disguised as moped taxi drivers in Mandalay in 2005 had a different opinion on tourism in the country than Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. I understood why New Zealanders did not feel like working themselves to death in 2008 and why there was no open restaurant in the capital in the off-season in the early evening.

I did not understand why Quebec kept making efforts to become independent from Canada. I did not understand why the Japanese have such great food and a culture of order and politeness, but rely on risky nuclear power plants. I did not understand why after three months I somehow got the feeling that the resources were endless in the vastness of North America, even as a person with a strong pre-determination. I did not understand why in 2010 the air in dictatorial China's already electrified Beijing was so much cleaner than in democratically run Taipei, where two-stroke engines were a common sight. I did not understand how my need to travel and my need to protect the world could somehow fit together. I later learned that the basic human conflict is to strive for autonomy on the one hand and attachment on the other.

I don't understand why everyone in the world can't feel connected to everyone else. I don't understand why people pay so little attention to our livelihoods. We all depend on each other and live on the same planet. An electric car without Africa is just as unthinkable as a cell phone without Asia.

You can get an idea of what I looked at here. In Germany I only marked places of residence, the rest of the world is not really complete:

I have the gift of recognizing how another person is feeling. When someone is not feeling well, there is this imbalance. I can't not see it. It's not uncommon for me to notice it before someone else notices it themselves. When I enter a room, it is full of imbalance. When I walk through a pedestrian zone, I notice all these little things. A child trots sadly next to his mother. A woman stares into space. Two insecure teenagers are arguing about something. A homeless man begs. The saleswoman hasn't loved her job for a long time. A couple looks at each other in love and is already mentally undressing. Someone from some office is rushing around, completely overworked, looking for short-term compensation. A man enjoys the sun in front of an ice cream parlor. A couple who have not loved each other for a very long time are doing their usual shopping. A pedestrian zone filled with people is incredibly stressful for me.

I am magically attracted to people with mental health problems. I understand them and they notice it. If I'm not careful, something like this will eat me up. I feel the need to simply turn off any problems I see. I just see the solutions in front of me. I want to hug the world and tell it everything will be okay. Just like lonely women's hearts. I understand them. But they have to solve their problem themselves.

When I touch a person, I intuitively know where the problem is. And where it feels good. I taught myself massage. It just comes out of me. In the past, people would have said I was a shaman. I want to be connected to everything and I see so many disconnected lines. I have the ability to heal, but if I'm not careful, I'll die in the process. The time I was working at the hospital, it was a great and borderline thing at the same time.

It's no coincidence that repairing has always been important to me. Electronics, white goods, toys, bicycles. In 2022 I realized that repairing is a core idea of the circular economy, which is now an important goal of the EU.

I feel connected to indigenous peoples like the Sami in the Arctic Circle. Their shamans have known how to heal for thousands of years. For me, this gigantic knowledge complements conventional medicine. In the USA there have long been hospitals in which shamans heal alongside conventional doctors. During Christianization, shamans were banned from the practice in many places. It's still in our heads that we shouldn't think that. They're supposed to be evil wichters. If whicher, they are white. I assume, there is no good and evil, no black and white. There are shades of gray. And if you let it, a rainbow.

Shamans assume that everything has a soul. Every person, every animal, every plant, even stones. There is the divine in everything. It is not a contradiction for me to reconcile my Christian past, shamanism and the perspective of the Buddhist monks with whom I spoke at Swedagon Pagoda. I don't see any imbalance there. They're all talking about the same thing. And sometimes fight each other.

I really enjoy cooking and eating. I like to do that for my life. I learned to cook on an open fire in a large cauldron. I once cooked for 60 people at a tent camp for two weeks. Now there are only 8 people every day, with pots that are still larger than that of the average Western citizen. I relax when I cook, and tasting and snacking makes me almost as happy as the satisfied customers of my food. I first cook new inspirations according to a recipe, then as freely as possible. Sometimes I conjure up something delicious from leftovers, just from my gut and with the senses and the knowledge I have. I never need a clock for this; back in the forest I didn't have that, nor did I have a temperature controller or an induction hotplate. I use ingredients that are as unprocessed, fresh and organic as possible. Better to have a few good ingredients than a gigantic list of average quality.

In Uruguay I couldn't cope with the bad local food and I vowed: I would only travel to countries where the food was good. I don't want to subject anyone to my bad mood. And dear Uruguayos, you were incredibly kind to me. I'll never forget the scene when I asked for a gas station in my cycling clothes and the good woman laughed her head off, not understanding why I needed it.

My body cannot tolerate wheat. The list of symptoms is quite long if I don't stick to it. I find one symptom particularly blatant: I feel more anxious with wheat. I have tested this several times and it is true. I'm pretty much afraid of nothing without wheat now, but with wheat it takes me back for a while. Assuming that this could also be noticed in other people, what gigantic effects would a small adjustment to the diet have?

I did my 80% high school diploma on the side. School wasn't a drama, but it wasn't particularly interesting either. It seemed more sensible to me to do the 80% without learning than the 100% with a lot of learning. Nobody told me back then that the 80-20 principle was invented by Vilfredo Pareto in the 19th century; I did it intuitively. Even today, this way of working drives some people around me crazy. It made a lot of sense to me back then because I was interested in all sorts of time-consuming things and wanted to fit everything in with time: cycling technique, triathlon, dancing, music, traveling. To finance my business, I delivered newspapers when I was 14, and later I sold bicycle parts and repairs to classmates and local people from my basement.

I absorbed things that interested me like a sponge. Without knowing it, I worked as a self-taught artist from a very early age. I only built Lego the first time with the instructions, then freely. At the age of 9 I got bored of that and switched to Lego Technic. When I was 11, I got tired of the big kits for 14 year olds and started with an electronics experiment kit. I built all the circuits offered and wanted more. I got books, blank circuit boards and components for my own ideas. A radio, an intercom, a fiber optic system for transmitting messages, an alarm system. My cabinets were overflowing with gutted circuit boards, speakers and cables. Our neighbor gave me a defective amplifier to dismantle. Instead, I repaired it and used it for my music from then on. Back then, I could steer myself in all sorts of directions with music. If I wasn't careful, I would sink into world-weariness. When I became aware of it, I could press the action button. The next action was the topic of bicycles. This should be much more than just a stopover for me. It started around the same time as my leadership role at the Boy Scouts.

The topic of boundaries has always been closely interwoven with my high empathy. I wasn't aware of this for a long time. It is the “story of my life”. I was really looking for the borderline experience. And I went to extremes. For example, play the violin on the one hand and then go to the techno disco on the weekend. That wasn't a contradiction for me. Nobody understood that, and I didn't really understand it until I was 45 years old. I danced myself into ecstasy and no longer noticed anything around me. I didn't care if anyone thought I was weird, sweaty and with my eyes closed. I did this for hours at a time. It made me somehow connected to the world and to myself, and my volcano became a little tamer. Outside the disco, I found noise terrible. I wanted to be in nature and pure peace. This is also the reason why I went into techno disco. Today I listen to electronic music with headphones and work on my own music, in which I want to combine electronic beats and nature. Similar to Industry 5.0, which I see as the next project for myself.

For a very long time I had great difficulty defining myself. Who am I and who is the person whose perspective I have just adopted? High empathy doesn't just mean that you empathize more. It means that you crawl into the other person with all your senses and feel what it's like. “Crawling back out” is a challenge for the highly empath.

I feel this in animals too. When a dog is thirsty, my running duck is unbalanced, a cow is suffering. And I feel close to the cat myself. Cats also sense when a person is not feeling well and come to comfort them. Cats have spontaneous energy. You are self-determined and strong. And vulnerable and tender at the same time.


I also found the theme of rhythm in triathlon. I completed my favorite discipline, cycling, with a similar feeling, I call it flow. I felt this irrepressible power that I had always carried within me, in these constant drum-like crank movements. More of a two-stroke engine than a circular shape. When running, I needed a little more time to find this rhythm, but then it felt infinitely possible there too. I tested this in 100km runs before I turned 18 and found that the limit was more mental than physical. I had the hardest time swimming. School swimming was a disaster, I learned nothing. Later at the DLRG swim on Thursday evening I just swallowed water and didn't make any progress there either. Actually, you could have recommended that I check the topic off. But I was drawn into the water. I wanted it badly, even if I couldn't. For me, competing without water was somehow imperfect, the experience incomplete. I had been cycling and running for a long time, and things were going well to very well. I could have left it at that, there were also duathlon events. I bought a textbook and taught myself until I could crawl 3km at a time. And then the flow came there too. When I was washed ashore from the Edersee in the last third of the starting field, I set the racing bike I had built myself to steam hammer mode and, as if in a trance, drove 100 people or more in front of me into the ground. Little did I know that Triahlon legend Mark Allen, who was still active at the time, would help me through a crisis decades later. He is a shaman.

Then I wanted self-eployment. I wanted it early, and badly. I kept running into the wall with this will. On the one hand, because I resisted “the usual” and wanted more humanity and more environmental awareness. However, hardly anyone paid me that. The second reason is that I am the world's worst administrator. If you want to see your office in total chaos, take me. My thoughts are everywhere except for the paper that is in front of me. I have the next five ideas, the next three insights, I want to implement and do and do. And not manage. I'll never manage a company again. It's just better this way. The third reason is that money means nothing to me. Freedom and family mean the world to me, and for that I need money. That`s it.   

When I moved to Wettenberg in 2018, I worked independently for a small series manufacturer in the bicycle industry. He filed for bankruptcy before I got my first bills paid. I couldn't pay my rent at first.

I filed for bankruptcy myself in 2013 with two bicycle shops that were supposed to operate without pre-orders and with a high proportion of repairs. I wanted to do better, but it didn’t work. If no one had ever tried such things, we would still be sitting in the cave. We wouldn't have a car or a cell phone. It is Schopenhauer's process of creative destruction. The people in the bicycle industry who pointed the finger at me a while ago are currently experiencing this. A change in perspective helps to understand things instead of making judgments without background knowledge.

In the case of the small series manufacturer, it was due to the mix of 90s products, e-bike projects, brand stores and activities outside the industry, with costs exploding. The 90s products were awesome. But the time for that is up. The e-bike project is too late. The Brand Store is an attempt at compensation, with new liabilities. Activities outside the industry are no longer productive. No one else could have saved the company. Failure is part of it.

For me it was a violation of industry rules. I decided against a big favorite brand, I can't stand uniform mass-produced products that everyone follows like lemmings. Instead, I took in modular providers who theoretically covered a lot. I repaired an incredible amount, for up to 10,000 euros per week. and sold little, people wanted thev brand I skipped. My costs exploded. I positioned myself incorrectly. I managed inadequately. I learned an incredible amount. It was the cornerstone for the German Design Award 2024. Back then I was “the bad guy”. Changemakers are unpopular. Everything should stay as it is. Germany was just described in a British newspaper as a "slow-motion accident" because the choice between stasis and regression leads nowhere. The old man will hold on until the ship sinks.

I speak openly about failure because I believe it is essential for shaping the future. And with the bicycle workshop concept that was developed rather by chance during the COVID19 period, and the German Design Award 2024, it is like Winston Churchill once said: You are successful if you get up one time than you fall down. Mistakes are not something to be avoided. You should do as many as possible to learn as much as possible. Do the opposite of what school teaches. Otherwise we are just puppets in a theater.

In addition to life, I was concerned with death. In 1998 there was compulsory military service in Germany. I refused because I can't point a gun at someone and pull the trigger. I opted for community service, which was possible at the time. Unlike my peers, I had no desire to spend 13 months at a gate or in an archive. I wanted more. And got it. Once again I reached a limit. They put me into an intensive care unit. For three months I thought every day: I can't do this! Then I gave it another chance the next day. After a quarter of a year, the boundary was dissolved and the flow was there. The experience was one of the best I have ever had. On the last day I was allowed to care for a patient on a ventilator alone under supervision. But until then I had always brought dead people into the cold storage cellar. Death is part of life. I read a book about near-death experiences. On February 16, 2004, I experienced this myself after something unnoticed burst in my stomach. They cu my stomach and rescued me. There were complicarions. They had to open me again. I was not able to leave hospital without help. My scar itches from time to time and makes me remember. Since then I have no longer been afraid of death. There is a path after death, I am certain. And it makes all the more sense to make the most of every day on this planet. There is no evidence of other life anywhere in the universe. It is extremely unlikely that we exist. And I am grateful for each day I have.

I found peace in the forest. I preferred to be there overnight, with a sleeping bag on a mat, without a tent. I felt this connection to nature. I wanted to see it, hear, smell, touch it. So I already dreamed of the Nordic wilderness at the age of ten, and inhaled a ranger book about Lapland. At the time, I had no idea that I should actually think about moving to Finnish Lapland in 2024. Not even what role the indigenous people play for me there. At the age of 16 I got the offer to apply for a three -month student exchange to Edmonton, Canada. I applied immediately and celebrated my 17th birthday in Canada. The width outside the city made me speechless.

In the Canadian Rockies I realized that despite my irrepressible desire for freedom, I was simultaneously longing for exactly the opposite: unconditional commitment. I already knew back then that I wanted a family. And endless freedom. At the same time. I found my family after considerable detours in 2013. I met the woman of my life. She brought me five children. We also have two in common. Another borderline experience that I immediately said yes to. The best thing I've ever had the pleasure of doing. 

My youngest son has an uncontrollable volcano inside him. He wants it all, now. He lives the same intense life as me, which is almost impossible to communicate. He holds a mirror up to me every day: Deal with yourself! You wanted these experiences! Don't run away! I want so much closeness that no leaf can fit between you and me! And my indispensable freedom, more than anyone else! At the same time! Now! Just understand that!

The basic human conflict, autonomy versus commitment, can be resolved. I'm close to the solution.

Basically I kept looking for the same things:

  • The connection to myself,
  • the connection to nature,
  • the connection to others.

I won the German Désign Award 2024 with my bicycle concept SAYA. The concept works according to the principles of the circular economy and is based on the sustainability goals of the United Nations. I created the thing in a wooden shack with three walls without heating, out of a mountain of scrap, partly under COVID19 conditions and with my extended family. My industry told me for four years: This isn’t possible! It is. And no, my name is not Tony Stark. But I don't accept the usual limits because I know that much more is possible. I want to tell the world:

Live what you think is right.

Shift your boundaries and dissolve them, they are only in your head.

Repair lost connections to yourself, nature and others.

We can solve our global crises if we want to.

Bicycles are not important. 

2024 Nikolaj Mosch