The Story Behind – How the Wider Embraces came about

Did it start with the ring, the list, the calling, the journey or the question? Or much earlier? Let’s start with the calling. 

Walk out the door and be free

In October 5th 2010, I was meditating in my apartment in Höör in the south of Sweden when I suddenly got a clear insight; when I turn 52, I will walk out the door, free.

There was such a profound depth to that experience, so I followed it. Admittedly, I did try to escape from the path several times. But the last day of May 2011, at 9 pm, I did walk out free. The weeks before, I had gotten rid of most of my stuff and terminated the lease on my apartment. 

I told my web customers I wouldn’t be around for a while. They were okay with that, as long as I was online and did my work. So I had my financial situation under control, including a donation from a dear friend.

Walking out the door free

The Journey Begins

I knew I was going to Egypt to see the Nile, but that was about it, and I was in no hurry. So I started to travel around Europe by train and bus; Denmark, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Bosnia, Greece. Visiting old friends and making new ones. Couchsurfing and staying at cheap hostels and hotels. In late February 2012, after nine months on the road, it was time to leave Europe. 

Not flying?

My intention was not to fly but to travel as sustainable as possible. But to get to Egypt from Europe in 2012 in wintertime was not possible. War in Syria, closed border between Marocco and Algeria and no boats crossing the Mediterranean. I flew. 

It’s interesting how our ability to take a flight gives us the illusion of an open world. And with a Swedish passport, the feeling of borderlessness becomes even stronger. If air travel wasn’t possible, how much more would we have to care about what is going on on the ground between Sweden and Thailand?

Journey without flying?

Exhibitions – The Activist and Big Heart of Humanity

At Easter 2011, before walking out the door, I made a photo exhibition; The Activist and Big Heart about two ways of looking at environmental issues. This exploration evolved into Big Heart of Humanity, and that became the name of my journey and my blog.

At Anafora, a Coptic retreat centre in Egypt, I had the privilege to be able to make a large exhibition with the theme Big Heart of Humanity at Easter 2012. 

The Earth in the Universe at the Anafora Exhibition

Who is Free? South Africa

After three months in Egypt, inspired by a meeting with a woman from South Africa, I went to Cape Town. Yes, I flew, after pondering the possibility to travel on land, realising that travelling south from Egypt meant going through Sudan and the civil war going on there. The world is much nicer from a seat in an aeroplane.

The reason I went to South Africa was a short phrase the women I met mentioned:

– In an oppressing society, the oppressors are not free either. 

This two-sided sword of oppression hit my mind, and I wanted to explore it further. For me, Humanities way of treating all other living beings, the whole Biosphere, is severe oppression. How much is this our prison? A prison we ignore, but never the less it is there. 

The view from Robben Island, Cape Town
The view from Robben Island, Cape Town.

Death and the Arrival of “Who is Embracing?” 

In June 2012, when I had found an apartment in Cape Town and got settled, I got the message that my coach, James Baye, had died unexpectedly. He was one of the most vital persons I have ever known, and he had been of great support, before and throughout the journey. I fell into an existential crisis, mourning a person I had only met online, but who knew more about me than anyone else. I started questioning life, death and meaning. 

A week after I learned of James’ death, I was walking on the beach when the question, “Who is Embracing?” came to me. I knew instantly that this is what my journey is all about.

– Who is Embracing? I repeated the question over and over, let myself sink into it, and after a while, I started to experience brief glimpses of another perspective. Since then, that question has been my focus, and through that question, the Wider Embraces has slowly emerged.

In the autumn of 2012, I got back home to Sweden, just in time to meet my mother before she passed away in an unforeseen heart attack a week later. 

Who is Embracing?
James last tweet: The more you commit to life, the more you can commit to death.

Exploring the Embraces Together

After a while, I brought the question to my friends, and we started to work with it in different ways and constellations. Because the Wider Embraces is about our collective side of being, it can only be fully experienced, explored and developed together. Many have been part of the journey, some from before the beginning and up until now, others have been coming and going. Everyone has added their specific perspectives and input. Without my friends and their open-mindedness, playfulness and commitment, there would be no Wider Embraces.

Developing the method, exploring the new terrain and drawing the map has been a challenging and beautiful journey. It hasn’t always been easy to balance between friendship and advancing the project, swinging between being part of a team and a leader, balancing between personal relations and the planet. I’ve done my best, and I’m immensely grateful for everything and everyone.

The Journey Continues

The Wider Embraces project has undergone several iterations, and this version of the website is only the current one in a row, as new people join, new things will happen. I’m looking forward to the next steps.

I’m confident that the Wider Embraces will continue to evolve and will have a growing impact. That it will provide us with a sense of a deeper belonging, new insights and let us become more aligned with planet Earth and each other.  

The journey continues, and I’m curious. 

Höör, Sweden May 2020 

Stina Deurell