Being back in The Netherlands (and going with the flow)

Zandvoort, Noord Holland, The Netherlands.

Stir fried chicken, onions, tomatoes. That is what I am eating. My legs are sore, terribly sore. I had my first (grueling, awesome and suprizingly educational) strength training at Evolve Personal Health Institute on Tuesday (my first personal training ever) and my first run today. Going for a run with sore legs was a bad idea and my performance was miserable. But it was great to go for a run on a Dutch beach with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time. And it is great to be back into healthy eating and exercising.

I arrived on Sunday afternoon, after an horrific 23 hour journey that went beautifully. I had to fly 8 hours from Ho Chi Minh City to Dubai, then had a 7.5 hours lay over and then another 7+ hour flight to Amsterdam. 2 hours after arrival I should attend the family party (that turned out to be a big succes for my aunt and uncle, see the pic below). Obviously I wanted to arrive kinda semi-fresh. What I did was buy diazepam in Vietnam and figured that if I would knock myself out as soon as possible on the first flight and catch as much hours of sleep as possible on Dubai airport I would arrive rested. Somehow, with a bit of luck and powerful drugs, it worked like a charm.

To walk through our airport was so strange. It was nice to see my friend Simone, kind of shocking to find out how much of her life I had missed, awkward to hear so much Dutch being spoken around me and somehow disorienting that everything was so normal.

For 18 months I would always have different surroundings, different languages, different currencies, different shapes and sizes of people, other beds, new coffee places and bakeries, new food. Every day. And now everything was back to normal. I am not extremely tall anymore and my blue eyes are no longer exotic but completely average.

I notice I have an eye for travelers when I walk through Amsterdam. I see people looking in maps, trying to find their bearings and debating the next site they want to visit. I also noticed that the towns that I visited (Zandvoort and Amsterdam) look better than when I left. Dutch complain a lot that there is always construction going on, that roads and boardwalks are open, that traffic is redirected and so on. But I saw that new traffic situations were improvements, creating a smoother and safer flow. By now I know that ongoing maintenance and continuous improvement is a rare thing in the world. It was strange to go from a previous to a new situation without being part of the hindrances that came with it and it was definitely slightly disorienting (“this wasn’t here before”) but it was a pleasant surprise. I can also proudly say that our beaches are first class, not even in Australia did I see such wide beaches.

When I was in the plane I still felt very nervous, by now had some spontaneous encounters in the streets that all felt very welcoming to me. I got 2 offers to give workshops and a possible joint venture is being researched. I have no house but I am offered space to stay from all directions. My social agenda is filling up rapidly too. In one way it feels like home, in another way I am living exactly the same way I have lived the last 18 months. I will move from house to house, staying at places where I would never have expected to stay and am constantly observing.

What is interesting is that the people who are eager to see me are not the people who I would have expected to call immediately. And in a way that is symptomatic for the whole journey: from the vast majority of my ‘inner circle’ I heard completely nothing during my absence (not even once) and from a few people very sparingly. Last night my friend Godfried took me for dinner and I talked about this with him. He asked me if I found it painful. In the beginning it was but after some time it just becomes a fact of life. Things just always happen differently than expected. I could say most people aren’t very supportive or attentive but I have found that it is hardly ever personal, it is not someone’s punishment of me (although I might hear a voice inside who feels the opposite). People don’t ‘show up’ for many reasons and it is pretty much always because their personal perspective on the situation somehow justifies it. That is their ego at work and I don’t want to make it my problem; I have my hands full with overcoming mine. I also know that there was always some support in some way or form, and it pretty much always came from a completely unexpected place. There is beauty in that and I have learned to trust and appreciate it. Also I have learned that holding on to high expectations or being eager to judge or condemn is useless and only works against us. Going with the flow makes things easier.


  1. marlies says

    Welcome back lieve neef! ik herken heel veel in wat je schrijft. vooral het observeren van je eigen plek / cultuur alsof je een vreemdeling bent. wat juist enorme verrijking is, althans zo ervaar ik het. zie je zondag in das boot! X

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