Looking back at my life, I can conclude that I consistently followed my own pathway. I felt I was led by what I have come to call ‘an inner voice‘. Several times in my life I made the choice to take a turn from the mass and continued life alone. Leaving a job. Leaving family. Leaving a relationship. Leaving friends. But each time with a strong belief that, at that time, it was the only right thing to do.
From young adulthood (consciously from +/- 16 years of age), I’ve asked myself the question “If I die tomorrow, did I use all the potential that my life offered me…?” In the moment the answer was always a resounding ‘YES’ and then I also got the answer to the next step in my life.
Somewhere deep inside I always felt that I was different than others, making non-regular choices. I wanted to feel myself free to be the human being that I am in essence, not what society defined me to be. And based on that to do what I felt I had to do. For me, things were never for granted. For me, nothing that is said by other people, is a definite truth.
Who I am today, is also and mainly, thanks to my parents.
And there are two other people who formed the basics for who I am and what I do. One of them close by. The other one far away. One of them is my grandfather from mothers side. During the second world war, he was captured by the Germans and forced to work for them in a camp. He was 30 years of age.
The other person is Kunta Kinte. A Gambian, captured and transported as a slave to America when he was 15 years old.
By the time the camp was liberated, my grandfather weighed very little. From southern Germany, he walked for miles to get back to the Netherlands. For days. He had taken some cutlery from the camp, but dropped it one by one because the weight was too heavy. He had nothing left but inner strength and a strong will to find his way back home. He seldom or never talked about it. I know his story only since recent years.
My grandfather was a quiet man with a huge presence. But I experienced that what he said, was a hit. As a child I loved to be close to him and as a young adult, I was happy to visit him until his death in 2003. We did not have to say a lot. I just felt his energy. Which was not only positive. I also felt silent pain and sometimes bitterness.
Kunta Kinta fought for freedom all his life. Once he accepted that he was in captivity, he sought and found inner freedom. I loved the film and book about his life journey. From that moment I have asked why I, as a white person in the Netherlands, should find people in Africa automatically pathetic and should help them.
I saw African people as very powerful. Who were fairly fought. And I saw that mostly people were happy in their villages. Even though they had supposedly nothing. Before Kunta Kinte was captured, he was happy and joyful.
My grandfather and Kunta Kinte. Two completely different lives. In other times and continents. But two people who, when meeting in one moment, would recognize each other fully in a story of determination and inner strength.
Both of them symbolise inner strength and will power to me. And their individual stories taught me to examine what it means “to be a free human being“.
After high school, I chose to do a master in which ‘humans in relation to context / environment‘ and ‘learning‘ were the central themes. I wanted to understand how a situation in which one lives, determines what kind of person he is / will be later on. Doing good or evil wanting? Positive or negative? Passive or active? And I wanted to know how you can evolve optimally, regardless of that context.
During the first year I had a vision that I would be ‘a guide of the learning of humanity‘. I had no idea what I meant. But since that time I made all my life choices from a connection somewhere in myself towards that view.
After graduation, I concluded that I had a head full of knowledge and theory including experiential learning & development of (young) adults, but the real adult life ….?
I decided to go on ‘an enriching life journey‘. I wanted to feel myself, my family, society and the world completely. I wanted to live life fully and discover as many aspects as possible. To do that, I could not and did not want anything else than to be in motion and to follow what I felt I had to do in the moment.
Life turned out and proved to be a brilliant discovery. Of humans and animals. Of hate and love. Of darkness and light. Of pain and happiness. Of life, death and energy after death. From financial gain to ‘persisting with virtually nothing’.
Feeling how I am connected to the present, but also to a distant past and to the distant future. Feeling the innermost pain and oppression in Africa and the very bright and divine energy in Asia.
My enriching journey through life and to my inner being, has led to great stories, inspiring meetings, a deep understanding and a growing, encompassing ‘love to learn the language of life‘. And, it seems, indeed to be the ultimate goal during this life to realise the vision I already had when I was 18: to guide the learning of humanity towards the future.