An open letter
Dear fellow human being,
I have been astray. Lost in a world I couldn't understand, looking for a place I could call home, weighed down by the stress of acting normal.
Until I faced myself and walked through a door to find a new world. But pretty soon this new world started looking just like the old one. And again I lost myself.
Until I saw through it all, liberating myself in one fell swoop.
From then on everything was going to be different.
Everything became different. It just didn't happen the way I thought it would.
Things never go according to plan. Unless they go according to plan.
Sometimes we contrive plan. Sometimes someone else contrives one for us. Sometimes we know who contrived the plan. Sometimes we have no idea.
I can no longer live according to plan.
Like you I think I'm someone who doesn't always know. Actually, I very often don't know. How much I don't know I do not know. I know what I know. But I don't know for sure.
So I go by feeling.
My head says I'm talking nonsense. My head says it's late and I should be in bed. My head says no one will read this. My head says I'm trying to be funny and I'm not.
Maybe my head has a point. But I prefer going by what I feel. With or without point-head.
Dear fellow human being, I write because there's something I would like to share with you. Writing helps me and I find pleasure in sharing. And what strengthens, inspires and makes me free might just give you something too.
I also write with a sense of urgency. Because we're in a bit of a state. And we can no longer just skip the invitation.
When I admitted to myself that I no longer knew what money meant to me, I became curious and started looking more sincerely. I began to see how my desire to live rightly clashed with unconscious beliefs. Beliefs that play a very funny game with me and you and almost everyone we know.
Our planet could easily support the seven billion people that live here but it can't. We drown in food and we are always hungry. We demolish pieces of nature and plant trees to compensate. We want to eat fish later so we empty our seas now. We want more energy and less CO₂. We wage war to make peace. We create profit for our shareholders and make loss for our children. We destroy piece by piece all that keeps us alive, to keep ourselves alive.
We have reached a limit. We've been playing for a long time and now we're tired.
But we go on.
With might and main we push economies back on their feet. We create jobs, tackle poverty and combat violence. We attack our problems with the very things that cause them. Every to-do item we check off creates another one: yet another economy in collapse, yet again people without jobs, again a bigger divide between rich and poor, again violence.
And as above, so below.
Even if we seem to have it all - good education, good job, good status - we are mostly unhappy. Confessing how we truly feel is showing weakness, bitching over a luxury problem. If we cannot live up to the world that is our oyster we have only ourselves to thank - we have ample opportunities. So we strive. We outperform, first others and sooner or later ourselves. Younger and younger we burn up, sometimes while we are still in school.
We eat, work and sleep according to an unnatural rhythm and a linear pattern. Sometimes our degrees, hours worked and profits booked rule over what we earn. Mostly there's no logic in what we earn. The value we genuinely create and the love and pleasure we find in expressing ourselves are of little importance. What counts is our contributiong to the Gross National Product. A sum of money mostly spent on stuff and services that do not fulfill us and do fill us.
Maybe you don't recognize what I write. Maybe what I write doesn't apply to you. And yet it does. Because the world isn't made up of separate, screened off pieces. What goes for others also goes for us. As we do unto others, so we do unto ourselves.
Somewhere inside of us lives a desire. Somewhere our soul rebells against a world telling us how to live. And rebellion always finds a way. If not outwards then surely inwards. We are more in-debt and heavier on drugs and medication, we buy more, we eat unhealthier and we expose ourselves to bigger doses of media, news and entertainment than all the people who went before us.
You don't have to come from another planet to find all of this a little strange. But in the middle of things it can be difficult to see. Especially if somewhere we don't slow down and stand still.
Standing still and asking the question "Why?" will sooner or later, above and below, carry us past the same answer.
Money is a beautiful idea. It facilitates exchanges, fosters talent and encourages creativity. Money is a sign of gratitude and even an expression of love. But somewhere we took this this beautiful idea and turned it into a God. A story we came to believe so deeply that it started leading us.
Money conquers and divides. It comes into the world asymmetrically, flows mostly towards people who can make more of it, heaps up where there's lots of it already and tears apart the rich and the poor.
Money steers and determines. With money we seem to be incapable of nothing, without it we can do hardly anything. Money scares us, quashes our desires and creates distance - mostly without our being aware of it.
Money sows confusion. And the confusion is becoming more apparent. Where we go through the motions we no longer believe. Where we run, haste and fight for our existence we understand less and less why and for whom. Where we don't see the wheel that turns us we can definitely feel how it is tiring us.
Money is not the cause. Money only shows us how we look unto ourselves, each other and the world. Our way of looking is the starting point of all the problems we see and feel and make. Not money.
Money is not the solution. Our crisis is no ecological, economical, political or social crisis. Our crisis is exactly that: our crisis. A threat to whom we think we are and a possibility for who we really are.
If anything, money invites us. It invites us to something so close we don't even have to go out the door to find it.
The world is not asking us for big projects. In fact, big projects tend to damage exactly what they are trying to fix. What the world asks of us is that we come alive for who we are inside. As we open ourselves to what makes us come alive, the world that lives in our hearts becomes reality. As soon as we start healing the relationship with ourselves, with our gifts and with each other, ecological, economical and social recovery will follow naturally.
So why all this talk of misery?
Can't we just go straight to the party?
Maybe. But I prefer going to a real feast.
We can only free ourselves when we see what blocks us. We can only come to life when we see what strangles us. We can only try a new direction when we see where we now stand and understand what brought us here.
Money has made us come a long way.
We no longer need it to determine us.
Coming alive yes or no or maybe is not a luxury problem. Giving way to our inner desire - or whatever you'd like to call the yes inside - is the most practical option I see. And the only one that really makes sense. Living now, not when we retire, is the biggest gift we can give ourselves, our children and the world.
We who listen are growing in numbers. Our slowing down is just as present as the speeding up. Less visibly maybe and without so much noise, but to me just as apparent.
And we're not alone. I don't know if I would have made it to here without the people who invited me to recognize and remember myself. I experience support and encouragement, even when it feels like I'm getting the opposite. Together makes us stronger. Together I like much more.
Dear fellow human being, I have no truth to tell and no final answers. I share what I have discovered through my own experiences and trial and error. I offer what strengthens, inspires and frees me. I'm no bigger or smaller than you are. My road is my road; yours is yours. I only hope to help you remember your own truth, just as others do for me.
This letter started as the introduction to a book. A personal journey to the core of our existence, past the convictions that keep us away. An invitation to trust what feels good and right. A way to knowing what makes us come alive. A space to discover a natural way for our gifts to express themselves. The book was to be written through of the experiences, inspiration and anchors that brought and still bring me closer to trust. It was to be printed on paper and available for free online.
Perhaps everything is going exactly as planned.
Maybe the plan is just following a different route than the one I thought.
Since a couple of days I know I'll be going on a trip in January 2016, indefinitely, to follow a desire and a dream no longer in the future: living in nature.
Sunday I received a soft yet very clear kick up the bum, Monday I swung restlessly and scared between possibilities and limitations, Tuesday I woke up with the words "without money".
And then there was space.
I've been spending a lot of energy on creating space to write. I came closer but I didn't quite enter it. "Without money" I saw what had gotten me stuck: searching for the right conditions and not allowing myself to surrender to what wants to happen.
I'm no stranger to this struggle and lack of trust. And I really do think that I have been letting go of a lot of stuff thank you very much. But boy, "I'm not worth it" really had me by the tail again.
I yearn to be in nature. I can imagine no better place to write. But whether writing is what will happen... I think I'm mostly going to feel, discover and experience myself more fully. If the impulse to write is there, I will write. If not, I will not. I want to surrender to what wants to happen. This surrender probably scares me the most. But what happens feels natural. It is happening now, not too soon and not too late.
I don't exactly know where I'm heading. Scotland comes up a lot. When exactly and how I also don't know. I know I'm going, without money, taking with me what I have to give: the wish to discover and share what makes me and us come alive. Through my gifts and experiences.
The day preceding the kick up my bum I was with two friends, Arthur van der Lee and Loes Berkhout. The Qigong exercises we did together brought Arthur to something beautiful: "To recognize your mission, no longer as a dot on the horizon but as a movable point inside, always in you and already a reality..."
I go by feeling and I haven't a dime to lose. That writes cool I think. Right now I find myself pretty cool. But also not. I don't know really. I'm going to discover.
Amsterdam and Utrecht, 6th of December 2015