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.

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.