So I went home. I left behind eigth months of fantastic adventure, an introduction to my new free life, and was about to face my old life again. I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for it. To be honest, the only reason I was going home was to see my family and friends, which I preferably would have met some place else in the world. It was really though on me, I spent a lot of time feeling uncomfortable and even crying by the thought of going home.. I wonder why it was so though on me. I guess I realize I should have ventured on this journey way earlier, if not in real live, then in my mind. I realize I didn’t question the ethics of my previous decisions enough and didn’t realize how easy it is to change life paths, both physical (the rest of the world is just around the corner!) and mentally. I realize my old life wasn’t satisfying enough. In terms of doing the right thing, in taking care of the earth, of other people and of myself. Even though at the time I thought it did and I did what I could with the knowledge I had. No regrets. But going back is not an option. I learned so much about the world and myself that I would do things completely different from now on. I guess I’m scared to be sucked into old habits, feel the pressure of expectations of old friends and acquaintances, the pressure tob e sucked back into an established lifestyle I dont want anymore, feel the pressure of consumerism and egocentrism of the western world, don’t know how to handle the overwhelming amount of impulses from an overcrowded part of Holland with lack of nature to quietly retreat to.
But it was time. Time to face my fears and learn from them. Fear of not being able to connect to my friends anymore, not being able to describe what I experienced and how it changed me and my views, fear of not belonging anymore, feeling the ground under my feet on which I always stood so firm slowly crumble away untill I’m floating in thin air. I was scared, and it was painful in some ways but at the same time I enjoyed it too, because it gave me more incentive to go and find out what it is I DO want in life.
It started when I got on the airplane and this way-too-fancy pretty boy (the stewart) spent almost all the flight trying to sell us horrible things like scratch cards (weren’t you always dreaming of that beautiful new car?), expensive perfumes (yak) and unhealthy snacks full of sugar, chemicals and preservatives (can’t really call it food). We landed in a grey and rainy ugly Eindhoven where I luckily was welcomed by my beautiful friend Anne 😀 I was very happy to see her again after I last saw her when we were cycling through Bosnia together. She is awesome and we enjoyed long walks, some climbing
and lots of catching up 🙂 She’s on a very different life path (just bought a house with her boyfriend and discussing whether to chop down the tree in the garden and have a bird folliere), but is always very open to others views and opinions and it felt like a safe environment to start my return, a little breath of air. I spent the night, like I had done so many times in the past, before we parted and I was about to go home, to finally see my dad again, who I have missed so incredibly much.
I was excited, but scared and sad at the same time. So very happy to be able to spend real time with him again and at the same time painful for realizing I couldn’t stay. I was scared not to be able to leave him again once I would see him in real life. He means so much to me. While I am living a life now I can never really make him part of, I intensly hold on to the strong mental connection we have and send him all the love I can send him. I am on the verge of giving up my whole journey just to be around him and it hurts me that my path is not in more physical proximity to him.
It was time for hugs!! Many many hugs had to be given!! I jumped in the car (I dont like these boxes) and drove through heavy rain on busy Dutch highways (so sad) northly. First stop: daddy! I had been quite vague to most people about when exactly I would arrive back home, beacuse I wanted to spend time with my dad first, before everybody would come knocking on my door. The first day together we went for a walk in the dunes where all of a sudden I heared someone screaming my name! Damn! It was Janneke 😀 She was running there and recognized my bright pink hat. I love her so much and was so happy to see her there! That morning me and my dad were discussing where to go for a walk and initially thought of another round but changed our minds last minute.. was it a meant to be?
That day crazy things kept happening. I had told my friend Erwin who doesn’t live too close to Haarlem I would be there that day so we could meet and when I picked him up at a cafe to have a drink with Janneke as well, there was my friend Mariska sitting right there in the cafe, busted! :p (later I visited her at home :)). That night my tango orchestra was playing a quite exciting concert (accompanied by dancers!) and I arranged with my good friend Floor that I could at least join for the repetition to play my saxophone again. I ended up playing the concert though, sweet!
It was so nice to join them again and play these beautiful songs I strangely enough still remembered pretty well. After the concert I caught up with some friends who came to watch us play (including Maarten) and hurried up to the next party. My friend Rosaly (awesome chick!) was celebrating a goodbye party because she was about to travel to the Phillipines for half a year to join a fantastic project on marine rehabilitation. She didn’t expect me to be there and my welcome was hilarious. I was very excited and a bit scared to walk in the room, Eva acted like she saw a ghost and there was lots of disbelieve, hugging and crying and smiling and jumping and and and.. aaaahhhhhhh . Writing about this two months later the tears still fill up my eyes and the excitement still raises my heartbeat. It was so good to see them again 😀 I love these girls so much. Rosaly, Janneke, Eva and me know each other from girlscouts. We are all very different but so close. That will never change. Even though I changed. Turned out i didn’t need to be scared of that.
The next weeks were packed. I arrived home in a world where little had changed, even though I felt I changed so much.. hoping to become more like this girl one day :p
Just kidding, but she’s beautiful…
After the initial trying to explain and tell about my experiences I soon stopped trying and just enjoyed the love of my family and friends, which had not changed. Even though I felt like living in another world, the love was still there and I just sat and smiled. I am no evangelist, I have no desire to convince anybody and don’t judge anybody who chooses to live differently , I am on a journey for me, only me, to support my own decisions. And I am very grateful to have the opportunity to experience this. Whoever is interested is welcome to ask and I will be very happy to have deep long discussions (preferably outside and under the stars :)). But if not, that’s fine as well. I enjoyed the warm company of these beautiful people and realized once again how lucky I am to know them.
At the same time I was a bit sad though when I couldn’t find anyone willing to join me on a wild food foraging trip, planting trees in the first dutch edible forest, visit this ecovillage or visit Haarlem’s first permaculture garden. Only my dad seemed to be slightly interested to join me so I dragged him along to visit some people who are starting up permaculture gardens. My dad and I tried to find time to go out walking as much as we could while discussing everything I learned and experienced and I was so so happy to have these long deep talks with him again, like we always used to. We walked on the beach, we visited some exhibition about the future of food (apparantly cheese is very very bad for the planet, damn!),
listened to classical music in silence and dark, went to a beautiful concert in ’t Mosterzaadje where I once as a little girl performed on the piano, basically I just tried to be around him as much as I could. We also went for a walk on the beach, where some stranger saw us and thought it was worth taking a picture of, what a great man!
Not enough though. I (mis)used the time in Holland to work at the cheese shop to make some money. During Sinterklaas-time, yeay 🙂
Making lots of Christmas presents..
Together with seeing some of my best friends time passed way too quick.
I was very lucky that my good friend Michael was in Holland at the time (he had just moved to India),
I enjoyed spending a weekend over at Erwin and Carla’s, and we enjoye another day at the beach,
I got to play another show with my tango orchestra
and I payed a visit to my former colleagues from the police. I went back south to visit Anne again, and this time my beautiful Belgian friend Ricardo came up to join us as well 🙂 And we enjoyed some Duvel beers like we used too 😀
At the vegan cafe I took them they had this great concept where you could pay for a coffee for someone else to take who doesn’t have enough money.
Ricardo bought some ❤ I know this system from the states where homeless people are helped out this way. Fantastic! Not sure it works here though, stacked in the back of an expensive vegan restaurant, but still. Good job Ricardo, you’re a hero!
I enjoyed seeing my brother and sister, even though I felt there was way too little time to really show them I love them. It was great to take my brother to the climbing gym and hope we can do that again on some real stuff outdoors one day. On our birthday we just had a nice quiet family dinner, perfect to me 🙂
I played around with the idea that I might spend more time in Holland next time I visit and how I would use this time to get involved with some of the refugee programs, I would volunteer at the permaculture garden in Purmerend working with mentally disabled (beautiful project!), engage in dumpster diving (big supermarkets throw out so much good food), cook nutritious food for the homeless, help out at the community gardens etc. Many opportunities and ideas to make my life fulfilling and giving.
I read some beautiful quotes lately, which are very inspiring and a good guideline to find my way:
‘You have a magnificent contribution to make to the more beautiful world your heart knows is possible. It may not make you famous, but you have an important gift, an indispensable gift, and it demands you to apply it to something you care about. Unless you do, you will feel like you aren’t really living your life. You will live the life someone pays you to live, caring about things you are paid to care about. You can make a different choice. […]
The most reliable guide to choice is to follow whatever makes you feel happy and excited to get out of bed in the morning. Life is not supposed to be a grim slog of discipline and sacrifice. You practiced for such a life in school, tearing yourself out of bed for days of tedium, bribed with trivial rewards called grades, intimidated by artificial consequences, proceeding through a curriculum designed by faraway authorities, asking permission to use the toilet. It is time to undo those habits. Let your compass instead be joy, love, and whatever makes you feel alive. […]
At a certain moment it will become necessary for you to go on a journey. It isn’t to escape forever. It is to find yourself outside of whomever your conditioning trained you to be. You must put yourself in a situation where you don’t know who you are anymore. This is called an initiation. Who you were becomes inoperative; then, who you will be can emerge. […] On this path, you are sure to get lost. You’ll despair of finding the answer – and then the answer will find you. Breakdown clears the space for synchronicity, for help unimagined and unearned. None of this advice can be sustainably implemented by a heroic effort on your part. You need help. Seek out other people who reinforce your perception that a more beautiful world is possible, and that life’s first priority is not security, but rather to give of your gifts, to play, to love and be loved, to learn, to explore.’
Im slowly getting closer to breakdown, to feeling completely lost and gave up on trying to find an answer. I’ll ride this wave of life and see where the wind blows me, while I always keep questioning myself. And I love, and I laugh, and I enjoy, and I learn and I explore and I love some more, trying to give where I can.
Being back home just hit me in the face with a sort of reality check, social and economic pressure, fast pace and consumerism. It was hard to balance out with my newfound tranquility. Somehow it is much easier to deal with these live questions when you are on the road, experiencing much more freedom (even though I should learn to feel the freedom anywhere anytime, it is in your mind..). There was no time to crystalize all these thoughts out though, the three weeks were over before I knew it and I didn’t even had had the time to see everyone I wanted to see. But my ticket was booked and I was on my way to Australia, off to new adventures!
It took me a couple interesting days to get to the land down under. First I flew to Istanbul (unexpectedly ended up in first class, woohoo)
I picked up my bicycle, my guitar and my stuff
and was very lucky that my friends Katie and Mehmet were back in Istanbul at the time!
Katie met me at the Greenpeace wearhouse, where I had stored everything thanks to my host Ozay, and we spend the day together: cooking, drinks, strolling around, it was fantastic! She was still vilting and made these fantastic earmuffs,
aren’t they great?! Haha so funny. Katie and me have a strong sisterconnection established through some funny crazy adventures and I am sure we will meet again. I am very grateful for this reconnection in Istanbul, it was perfect 🙂
I went to the airport late that night, still unsure if I would pull it off to bring my bicycle and my guitar on the plane, but it worked out! I wrapped the bicycle in plastic
and just carried the guitar on. Apparently it was allowed.. On the long flight I watched a couple of great documentaries (including Back to Eden) and read the classic One Straw Revolution. I had two stopovers in China, where the longest (10 hours) was in Ghuangzhou. Wasn’t I lucky!! Yoohoo 😀 I had been in Ghuanzhou the same time three years ago and visited my friend Thomas, who still lives there, yeay! It was perfect: he was free for work (jazz musician) and picked me up from the airport to go out all night.
It was so nice to see him again, see his new appartment, meet ‘Poes’ (the cat I keep reading about in his e-mails), go see some bands, drink some beers, enjoy the midnight street barbecues like we used to and be happy together :p Thomas arranged me a taxi to the airport and I was on my way again, to have the next reunion. With Chris. In Sydney… ‘Hey mate!’.