The Struggle


The Struggle


As part of our family gene pool I’m genetically designed as an artist. There’s no denying it. It’s how I was born and it’s how I will sigh my last breath. As part of the artistic ‘territory’, the creative psyche is the typical ‘right-brainer’. This means nine out of ten times that an individual like that is not your proverbial logic thinker, and lacks a talent for ‘beta’ subjects such as Math. His virtues can mostly be found in that creative domain, with an added strong point of easily picking up any foreign languages.


Well, I seem to fit the description of that ‘right-brainer’ to a great extend. I produce art, mainly on aviation subjects, I write in at least two languages, Dutch and English, and as a percussionist I make and listen to music. In short, I do just about anything that is somehow associated with transmitting or provoking emotions of any kind, by any means. This means that, like just about every ‘right-brainer’, my comfort zone is in the less rational, more emotional domain. I’m pretty passionate in that area.


Not just passionate about all these creative processes, but just about anything that happens to me, around me, to others, to anything and anyone in our world. I can be passionate about psychological, social, political, religious or historical subjects of any kind. If something fascinates or intrigues me, I will be triggered to dig deeper. Always eager to learn, at least one thing per day, however trivial. That doesn’t matter. Each day I strive to be a better person than the day before. For myself and for others.


Those who have thoroughly known me intimately for years will attest to the fact that I, even though I’m Dutch and part of the somewhat ‘colder’ and generally more rational upper part of Europe, could easily resemble that Southern European. Not in looks but in personality. I can be highly emotional, intense and passionate. Sometimes, when I’m full of something or when I want to make my point, I may come out too strong while advocating for it. Sometimes I can be very hard to deal with that way.


There is a risk involved with being that emotional, artistic ‘right-brainer’. He or she is always ‘open’ to emotions. Both in his or her head and heart. Structurally. That openness also means a vulnerability. One can easily ‘hurt’ this individual. Because he or she takes it all in, unfiltered, in all its fire and fury. Absorbing the blow, fighting to keep your sanity and fighting to not close yourself off by escaping to that foreign domain of rationality, or becoming that depressed victim feeling sorry for yourself. No!


‘Right-brainer’ or ‘left-brainer’, it doesn’t matter how you label them. And, the division between the two is not all that firmly carved out in stone. Not only your brains but life itself has a habit of forcing you to hone some skills which don’t necessarily fit the predominant hemisphere of your brain. Life’s experiences bestowed on you as you go along on your very own Yellow Brick Road. Beautiful ones, ugly ones, sad ones, happy ones, traumatic ones. All of them are part of the ‘University Of Life’, I say.


Looking back at 56, I can say that I’ve lived a ‘colorful’ life so far. And no, I’m not finished yet. By no means. Let’s stick another half a century to it, I say. So many ideas, so many things to still do. Not as a long-term planner but living in the moment. Because, as someone once said: yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not promised, there is only today. Too many people, some whom I’ve known, never had that chance, or never took it. They left us here before they ever had the chance to live to their full potential.


To me that would be a shame. I’d hate it when I look back during my swan song, having to think ‘if only…’ Missed opportunities. Of course, you can’t do it all, what ever that is. Life still may be too short. But, at least seizing opportunities to reach your full potential will provide you with a ‘rich’ life. Not necessarily ‘rich’ in the material sense. I myself couldn’t care less about money, possessions or any kind of status. No, I mean ‘rich’ as in love, friendship, making and sharing experiences and memories.


Just about now I’m at my peak moment as I see it. Young enough to still be energetic in life, full of ideas. Old enough to have gained some hard-won, very useful wisdom. Not caring about how the outside world perceives me, only caring about how I see myself in that mirror. That’s good enough. Letting go of ‘ego’. I have reached this in three steps: 1) being honest to myself and to others, 2) self-reflection, accept both my virtues and vices and make peace with them, and lastly 3) pure self-love.


It is a struggle to come this far. Because I haven’t always been this way. In my younger years I wasn’t that fun to be with at times. Starting off with a lack of self-esteem. I felt invisible, insignificant, ugly. Compensating for that during my teens by becoming loud, adopting a fake dominance in a verbal and physical way, a sort of aggressiveness, and hiding behind a form of lies and deceit. It didn’t make me happy. A long road was ahead of me in order to become this stable guy who is sort of fun to be with.


Along that way, I still felt sort of sheer ugly. This had something to do with a physical deficiency in my appearance. Therefore I shifted to thoroughly developing my mind, sucking up any knowledge that I could lay my hands on. People had to be taken in by my personality, not by my appearance. But, this was not fulfilling enough. I sort of gave up on it all. Until about four years ago, when I was presented with the opportunity to get rid of my last obstacle, that deficiency that had haunted me for forty years.


With that last dark cloud out of the way, I was unleashed. From now on it was not either appearance or mind, it was both appearance and mind combined. Resulting in a whole new ‘presence’. And then letting go of that ‘ego’ came in. It was all very liberating. When a transformation like that happens, you automatically ‘invite’ new experiences. Great things seem to come to you, seemingly without effort. Which, of course, is not true. Without that background noise, you’ll make it all happen yourself.


To reach this point was no walk in the park. But it was great for character building. The result is that ‘rich’ life I have now. Essentially only needing myself and not needing anything from anyone else. Everything that happens now in my life is regarded by me as a ‘bonus’. At the end I will not have regrets. I’m sure of that. Not even about mistakes I've made in the past. They are all part of that learning curve that I had to follow in order to become who I am now. It’s all my responsibility, my own doing.


This ‘right-brainer’ has picked up some skills along the way. Some of them are typically ‘left-brainer’ stuff. Resulting in a full-blown, experienced and passionate ‘warrior-poet’, as I like to see myself. Not shy of doing gritty battle in order to live a fulfilling and loving life, on my own and with others. Able to give without needing anything in return. Self-sufficient. In the knowledge that to me I’ve lived it all and that I’m leaving a sort of legacy behind. Not only in my aviation art, but also as a human being…