When I decided to leave a lot of people around me said I was running, they said it wasn’t for me, that I just had to grow up, stop wandering, accept things and settle down. I have to say, that saddened me since I felt misunderstood and alone. The reason I wanted to go is because I sincerely wanted to see the world, see what’s out there, learn, experience and grow as a person.
I spoke to a lot of people during my adventure and all the solo travellers/ emigrants had the same experience while leaving home. Finally!! I had surrounded myself with peers.. my kind of people.. Hallelujah!! Generally, while drinking beer number 2 they all said, “I just want to see the world”, “I just want to feel free”, “I just want to feel alive” and I feel sad for the people who don’t understand “us” living their boring lives inside the box. I laughed, raised my beer bottle and cheered: come on, let’s have another round!
Guess what… after beer number 6 (or 7 or 8) the true stories came out. I’ll spare you the details, but the conclusion was that everyone was extremely heartbroken, were closet homosexuals or were convicted in their own country. Left or right, everyone was running or looking for something. I am talking about men and women somewhere between 30 and 70 years old, some top fit and handsome, others overweight and some even physically injured. Guess what they were all looking for? LOVE!
Some in the form of sex (prostitutes, happy ending massages or ladyboys) and others in the form of gorgeous much younger Thai girlfriends or wives. I had so see this “world” for myself so I went through the dark allies of Chiang Mai with one of them looking for his ladyboy who he had been secretly seeing for some months now. After a 10-minute walk and 5 times not trying to shit my pants because I was scared shitless, we found her house. It was basically one room on the ground floor with a large window with a big lazy chair in front of it. The sign on the window said: “going out for some diner, I’ll be back soon”. I wonder why people eat around midnight but ok… it happens.. and I missed it! While walking back towards my hostel (o yes.. I stayed in a hostel.. for the first and probably last time in my life) he pointed out other ladyboys to me and whorehouses that I would have never recognised myself. It was a genuine and interesting experience but what to think of it…
My stomach literally aches when I see prostitutes or young Thai women with older Western man. Apparently, it sincerely makes me sick. When I think about it, I wonder why, because for the women it’s one of the biggest accomplishments in their lives and the men who seek for love think they found it. So basically, we are talking about a win-win situation here. Still… it doesn’t feel right to me.
It felt like I found peers, but I wasn’t sure if I was happy with that because what did that say about me? Was I also running or looking for something and was everyone at home right? Also, I did not want to identify myself with “these sorts of people”. It felt wrong and even more wrong when I realized I was being so judgmental. So, I put my judgements aside and thought about it long and hard. The truth is yes.. these are my peers. Why? Since deep down we have the same core and the core is love.
Luckily in my case it is more self-love that I’m longing for so not a quick fix through a Thai girl and emigration to this interesting country. Besides that, I also really want to feel free, fully experience, be amazed by nature, participate in super touristic attractions and watch sunsets with a cold beer in my hand along the way. Off course I do! So that never changed… However, I mainly travel for the journey towards learning and accepting more about myself. I do this with the essence of love and by truly trying to connect with people from all over the world.
Luckily, the journey and results are different for every individual. Let's all try to remember that next time when we have a strong opinion about someone's choices in life.
Everyone has their own truth.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
This morning a very confronting “Facebook memory” from 5 years ago popped up. It was a picture of me and my sister having a cocktail to celebrate that our holiday finally started. The picture was made during one of our traditional Saturdays where we used to go to the market together near my house in Rotterdam and buy fresh flowers and cheese (sometimes some candy to but that’s our little secret). We just walked around, talked a bit, laughed, ate some food and had a drink (or more). Nothing special I would say until the moment it wasn’t natural anymore. We would have never thought in a million years that 4 weeks later we would spend every Saturday for the next 3 years at our parental house, taking care of our father.
Since I moved to Ibiza, I spend every Sunday on the market at Sant Joan, and so I did today. It’s my favourite place because I meet the same Hippies every week and it’s just the most relaxing and charming place you can imagine. The live music is being played from the heart, the stalls are (more or less) authentic, people dance, perform, smoke and drink, are sober, with or without children or dogs, it really doesn’t matter. Everyone is accepted, you feel the love and you can see everyone being their authentic self and just B. It’s my weekly retreat when I just sit there on the stairs, listen to the music, looking around, realizing how free and lucky I am just being able to be here, surrounded by these people. It gives me all the reflection I need, all the freedom I need and all the happiness I need. It even makes me dance while sitting or sometimes standing on the stairs (please don’t spread the word, I’m not looking for an audience 😉).
Even though I needed a Facebook memory to remind me, I’m grateful for the realization today that nothing should be taken for granted in life. My sister, my family, my friends, all my loved ones. It’s easy just to live your life when all is ok. When shit hits the fan and we drown, when we don’t know how to get through another day, that’s when we start to think, really start to feel and get to bottom of things. Not because we want to but because we must in order to survive. It’s the time when we learn, when we get to the basics of life, when we create our compass, when we reflect and become our true selves.
Being on the market today made me want to buy a tangible reminder of that. Feeling so melancholic, grateful, broken and strong at the same time it felt like the time had come. I used to wear a beautiful diamond ring that I got from my parents when I turned 21. I took it off (unconsciously) when I felt disconnected and so I never wore it again after my father died. Now I felt like connecting again but in a different way, so I bought a new ring. A ring that stands for the future with a stone that represents strength. A stone that has a clear and beautiful light blue colour, like my fathers (and luckily, I inherited these) eyes. A colour that stands for a boy… my pride and only 3 months old lovely nephew… who I will love unconditionally for the rest of his life.
I’ve had an extreme amount of life lessons for the past 5 years, I don’t even know where to start, so I won’t. For now, I will just share the one of today, which is that family is the most important thing in life, for me. The love is unconditional and whatever happens it’s ok, even if it’s not, it will be. Being part of a family means they pick you up when you’re down, they make you feel angry like nobody can, they make you understand, they make you laugh and cry, they are your basis, your mirror and it is a part of who you are, whether you like it or not, it just is….
There is a family connected through blood and a family you create… nevertheless… a family is a family and I hope to start a family of my own someday… somehow… a family where everyone can
Face your fears and jump!
Someone I love dearly reminded me this week about my website. She asked, "what’s the status of your website?" and laughed sarcastically while asking. I almost forgot about it because I have been working on this for over 2 years without any actual result. In the meantime, I have had at least 5 business ideas for which I wrote semi-finished business plans, I started writing a book where I got to page 2, I was thinking about my future and deciding to stay in Ibiza or travel the world, I got preoccupied with making new friends, enjoying my new lifestyle, seeking love, trying to build a future and be in the moment at the same time. You can imagine how busy I was in my head, while one of the objectives for selling my house, quitting my job and moving to Ibiza was to rest, take care of myself and get in touch with my feelings again.
What better way to accomplish that than being on an amazing island with hippies. You can feel the love, the openness, the happiness, the freedom, the relaxation and the realness in them. When I look at them I want to be part of it and I envy them for living like this. They make me feel that everything is ok and spread their love towards me regardless of my background, my appearance or my character. That way of living appeals to me because in my opinion being like that makes the world a better place.
However, I am not a hippie, nor will I ever be. Still I like to surround myself with open and loving people because it gives me the strength to just B. It gives me a feeling of freedom, acceptance and support. It makes me want to do better, it makes me smile and it inspires me into trying to make a difference. Since I don't live in a tipi, don't live of the land and don't wear hippie outfits I will try to make a difference my way. For me that means writing instinctive in the hope of getting to people emotionally. Furthermore, writing helps me to understand things, it’s my meditation and yoga, it’s my therapy and legacy. It's my hippie way of life and I can only hope it will affect you like the hippies affect me.
I’m grateful that my friend asked about the status of my website because it made me realize that this is the story of my life. I have all these (obviously brilliant) ideas in my head of what I want to do but I never actually see it through. I’m always waiting… waiting for the right time… waiting for the right place… waiting before it’s perfect… waiting before my objective is clear… waiting... waiting… waiting… These are all just excuses due to a lack of self-esteem and mostly because I am scared. Now that I have come to that conclusion there is only one way to deal with it: just do it!
So here it is... it may not be perfect... it may not be what I had in mind... but it is here and that's what
makes it brilliant.