life

Shut your eyes and see

It took me three years to realise that I was wrong.

For a really long time, I believed that the most important things in life are captured by the eye. It’s kind of like a window to the soul thing in which your eyes allow for you to discover the world and read people and learn things and expand horizons. I thought that you could feed your soul through feasting your eyes on amazing and beautiful places and things and people.

But I was wrong.

It has been almost three years since I first read James Joyce’s Ulysses. There was a sentence that stood out as if it were being shouted at me…

“Shut your eyes and see.”

I re-read it at least fifteen times before my brain was able to wrap itself around the confusion.

Shut your eyes and see.

I’ve been wrestling with it ever since…

What I see through my eyes are signatures of all the things I have been placed on this planet to read. But somehow there is a limit to that. There is a limit to what can be seen. Limits to discovery. Once you’ve seen it all, you are done. It is done. You have done it. You’ve seen it.

You’ve travelled to Germany and you’ve seen their giant pretzels and now you can tell everyone about it and show them the pictures when you get back home.

But really you did so much more than that.

There is something bigger than seeing everything.

There is something to which there really is no limit.

Something you can never exhaust.

Because there is no limit to what can be felt.

And that is why, when you shut your eyes, you really see.

You discover more. You delve deeper. You understand better.

You comprehend.

That is why, when you shut your eyes and allow yourself to experience and to feel, I imagine you create the most powerful of memories.

It is huddling around that table in the freezing cold enjoying a glass of Glühwein with people who speak in your native tongue.

It is standing in the rain in Amsterdam with a friend you only met twelve weeks ago, but who somehow has become a soul more connected to you than even some of your lifelong friends.

It is climbing trees in the Gooise forest with the sound of summer hissing from the treetops.

It’s not about where you go or where you’ve been or what you’ve been taking pictures of.

It’s about the one thing no-one can take away from you.

It’s the memories.

It’s eating a bowl of bitterballen in a restaurant in Utrecht not because you’re hungry, but because they have heaters that will help bring back the feeling in your hands.

It’s listening to Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 – the saddest classical symphony of all time – over breakfast with friendly strangers in Belgium.

It’s stroking your fingers across the rough sand of the North Sea.

It’s dancing so joyfully the soles of your shoes tear off.

It’s cycling against gale force winds in aggressive rain and complete darkness through the narrow paths of ‘s-Graveland.

It’s falling off bicycles.

It’s thinking about the people you loved when you were home.

It’s the nostalgia when listening to that song from that drive to the ocean that day.

You must remember this.

It was all I had.

All I’ve ever had.

The only currency.

The only proof that I was alive –

Memory.

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9 Countries | 19 Cities | 365 Days

There’s a song I listen to every time I’m about to leave a place. It gives me a feeling of coming home. Like all the Lego blocks fit just right to build up a little place for my soul to rest in.

For a long time I believed that home was something I would find looking out from atop mountains or sitting next to rivers or peering across endless farmland. I thought I’d find my home hopping across countries and oceans and continents. I thought that it would have a name and that it would have a little space for me to live in.

But once I found it wasn’t a place, I started thinking that maybe home was something you build inside yourself. Through discovering what you want from life and what kind of person you want to be from here on out. It takes a really long time and a lot of hurdles before you reach a point where you can go “Yes. This is who I want to be. This is someone I can be proud of.”

But as soon as you’ve reached that point where you can look at yourself in the mirror and smile without cringing, you somehow find that, still, that is not enough. Being content with yourself is only one little Lego piece needed to build the home you’re so eager for.

Because after a year of pondering its meaning, what I found home to truly be, is the people you surround yourself with.

It’s all those souls you meet along the way who make you feel less alone in this world.

So this is my goodbye to the home I built here in Neverland. To my replacement family who gave me more than I could’ve hoped for. To the folk I met on my travels who gave me all the memories. And most importantly, to the friends who helped me live through this year with no single ounce of regret.

Doei, Nederland! Het was echt een leuke feest!! I love you and I’ll miss you xxx

1 in 7 billion

The Millennial Curse

I hate being a millennial. I hate having been branded as a millennial. And I hate other millennials.

Three insufferable beliefs of the typical millennial:

I am special

1 in 7 billionNo you’re not. You’re just another ant in the underground kingdom. It’s like that quote someone came up with that one time:
I just want to be unique like everyone else.
Maybe your mother wanted you to believe that you’re the exception. Mine certainly did. Maybe she even told you that you’re an indigo child. But let’s be real… Even though you probably still live with your mother and she’s constantly encouraging your belief in how special you are, she is one of few people in life who will ever believe it as much as you do.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Because that’s what life is. You work hard and you play amongst the masses and you make the most of it.

I deserve it

You probably do. This does not mean that you’re entitled to special treatment though. You have to go above and beyond to get noticed. You have to work your ass off to get a promotion. And you have to do this for years and years and then maybe… MAYBE… you will get what you deserve.

But moping away in the corner because your boss is treating you the same way he does other employees is not the answer – if you’re working in a corporate environment you’ll be at the bottom of the food chain for quite some time. Deal with it.

All I want is to be happy

Having seven different jobs in one year because none of them “made you happy” is ridiculous in the eyes of most employers. Some of them are all for playing the field and being a job-whore, but most – especially the significant ones – will look at your CV (if they even get that far) and chuck it aside because you lack loyalty.

Companies are not too keen on training interns or juniors just to have them leave a month later. They spend money training you. They invest a lot of effort and resources in you. You dining and dashing is a total injustice to yourself. Your patched CV could be a shot in the foot and you’ll have to spend the bulk of your late 20s & early 30s trying to rectify the happiness-seeking ways of your early-20s self.

Holding on to articles about millennials written by other millennials (irony) who are unable to suck up the natural course of working life might make you feel better for now. But peace, love and happiness is an outdated ideal initiated by people who lived through A WAR.

You’re becoming a statistic. Stop it.

Regret is never an easy emotion to rectify.

broken shoes

Why it’s okay to screw up

I’m not perfect. And neither are you. You’ve probably done some next level stupid shit in your life and those memories all creep back into your consciousness when you lie awake at night wishing you could go back and change it or somehow eliminate the memory from the minds of everyone who know about it.

Life being the forward-ticking witch it is, you can’t undo your mistakes and you can’t take back your screw-ups. But you can get up and get over it and move on. Do some new legit stupid things that overshadow your screw-ups from the past.

Because it’s okay to screw up. It’s okay to be stupid and immature and short-sighted at times because you are not a machine and you do not exist to please each and every human soul in the world. You were not put on this planet to serve as some kind of prodigy child who never leaves the house and doesn’t drunk text or occasionally bounce it out on Kid Cudi. Life also doesn’t refrain from throwing failures at you. It’s one of those things.

You’re meant to screw up. If you never screwed up, what would you laugh about? How would you ever have fun? How would you advance in life or in your studies or in a career if you are constantly setting unrealistic standards of perfection? Sometimes knowing you could potentially screw up leads you to not screwing up because you take the risk of doing or creating something brilliant.

Screw up. Screw up and enjoy it. Laugh at yourself. Cringe when you lie awake at night. It’s part of a life lived fully. Have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.

metallica

Music is Everything

Sometimes your life just hits rock bottom. Disappointments surface and people happen and it all just whirls into a little pool of self-pity.

Image

Many people have the knack of telling others that life is what it is and it’s not always easy. That bad things happen to good people and trials and tribulations are mere stepping stones towards greater heights.

No, it’s not always easy. No, people are not always nice. Some people, in my experience, are there simply to teach you more about what you should strive towards despite their remorseless words and behaviour. To teach you to be strong no matter what the trials. And you yourself need to keep from anticipating the light at the end of the tunnel as an oncoming train.

Ironically, my drive for life these days is getting up in the morning and sitting in traffic for an hour so that I can listen to the imaginative genius of some of my favourite bands. They are what get me through most days.

No matter how sad or trivial or tough life seems, it is always music that has the ability to either heighten your emotions or drown them out in its harmonic bliss. Though life doesn’t come with music, it is so simple to make music come to life.

Music has the power to help you pretend things away. It can take you to secret places. Help you build castles that your imagination can live in. It can help you live in the fantasy world that’s been forced into your mind by your neglected soul. Assist you in developing the plots you had always envisioned for yourself. Soothe your pains. Fly you off to the most illustrious depths of the universe.

Music’s the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough, it keeps the demons at bay.

Music is power.

Music is everything.

road in forest

You Are Alive

There are few things as deeply discoverable as those discovered alone. When you are alone, you see things differently. You see them through your own eyes. And through your own eyes, you witness pieces of the world so often overlooked in the company of others.

Walking alone, you notice the gentle rays of the sun pouring through broken leaves. Trees moving. Roots meandering beneath your feet. And you connect with something you rarely encounter amongst others.

Your hearing is clearer.

Your eyes open wider.

And in that moment, you become a part of the cosmos. You seep back into the soil from which you came. And everything about that moment brings you to the realization that you. are. alive.

You are here.

This is now.

This is you.

And the best thing to do with this moment or the next is to take it to be a manifestation of what you are capable of being. What you are capable of achieving. And where you are capable of taking your life within this mysterious yet intricately discoverable universe of magnificence.