What did you always take for granted, without noticing it, until it disappeared from your life?


I grew up in a reasonably prosperous family.

Money was always there.

This didn’t change much when I was standing on my own legs.

I soon had some jobs,

was sparingly,

and steadily built up a hefty reserve.

This stagnated when I got a relationship and was getting married,

Came to a full stop when we decided to buy a far too expensive house,

and bow to fall down when children came.

Money was not self-evident, I realized.


My spare time underwent a same fate.

Gradually in the same number of steps…

  1. Relationship
  2. House
  3. Children

Approached my spare time, without me noticing,

The zero line.

I never really liked how obviously I had always experienced that time until it suddenly was no longer there…

Until yesterday I thought Notre Dame de Paris[1 would always be there.

My cultural heritage, a piece of my identity.

And now…. Burning Notre-Dame touches the soul of France


[1 Notre-Dame of Paris-Wikipedia


Until my 49th I had a condition like a horse.

Just 60km of bikes?


A 5-hour walk.Yeah though.

Nights of dancing.Like.

Then I got sarcoidosis that slowly but surely wrecked my lungs.There came a slow, rare form of leukemia over it.

And now I have to continually look out with how I plan things and how much I can do before the pipe is empty.

My ability to communicate.

I started living in Japan a few months ago.

I last did a course with a group with only Japanese in it about communication and about Japanese ways in Japanese society.

Of course this course was entirely in Japanese.No English, and no Dutch at all.

Unfortunately I’m not fluent in the language yet, so although I can keep a smooth chat in Japanese, a whole course was really a few steps too difficult.

So every time we did a job, I was the one who brought down the group level.

Whenever we had to read a piece of text, I was the one who had not yet read half of all the pages while the rest was already finished.

Whenever we had to fill in questions, I did not have half of all the questions while the rest was already in the discussion.

And that way, for the first time in my life, I was the foreigner.

I saw last two Muslim women sitting in a restaurant, and for the first time in my life I felt a kind of connection with those I have had so far only with my friends and family: the feeling of belonging to the same group.They did not belong here naturally. Me neither.

Of course I (which also shows my interest in other languages and cultures, for anyone who looks at my profile a bit and also reads my English answers) never had a problem with foreigners, people of different Believe, other colors, whatever.I love variation in all areas.

But it is clear, if I am in the Netherlands, that that is where I naturally belong, in the sense that I speak the language, the people and the culture know, etc.Don’t see this as a story that says “I think people should stay where they come from”, on the contrary even. I think it’s a good idea to go somewhere where you don’t belong naturally: you can learn so much more in a strange environment than in a familiar environment.

But to come back to the original question, for the first time in my life I could not communicate decently.I am absolutely not a stupid person-I have finished a BACHELOR’s degree at Fontys Eindhoven, am an official mechanical engineer, speak 4 or 5 languages (depending on whether you count Limburgs), am social, and can usually explain just fine.

But not this time.And it felt rotten. It felt painful. And it has brought to me, in any case, a healthy dose of understanding about how “foreigners” should feel in the Netherlands. I had to reduce the tears occasionally because I felt stupid because I had the feeling that I could not come along. Not because I was too stupid to understand the assignments… But because those assignments were written in a language, which I am not 100% powerful.

I also notice this very much when I write answers in Dutch or English: they become huge stories, like this answer.My Japanese answers are always short and concise, because I do not yet control enough language to be able to express myself at this same level.

I would also like to give it to everyone to be patient when you meet someone who does not or does not speak your language (or languages) properly.You have no idea what so someone is through and you can’t ask him/her. Always try to help people. Who knows, you’ll ever be on the other side of the story.

Nice inexpensive to go on holiday outside the school holidays.

Diplomas and certificates in succession without taking too much effort.

Sleep late.

Second income and, in any case, the feeling that I am not alone.


And then this….

If you could find it already it was 9 out of 10 times about the date with the chocolate already turned out completely discolours and you paid there $8.50 for….

Luckily we have Aldi here now and with their Holland week it is available 1 times a year for around $4.00… Hoarding so…

Jamer that they do not have these….

Have seen it here once somewhere stand $10 per packet….. Yeah you keep a Dutchman huh…. that’s just too expensive….


On my 15th a friend of mine made an end to his life.

We shared the same birthday but he was a year older.

It went badly with him for a while and he did everything to do anything about it.Unfortunately it was not enough and he ended his life on the day we would have actually agreed.

I had realised that family would die at some point and I did come along when a grandfather of someone had died, but I realized for the first time what a lack of a lifetime was with this event.

The relative invulnerability and unbridled energy of youth.Older, you need to be more economical with your energy. Older people are more cautious because each injury heals slower, or not at all.

It has not disappeared yet and is not particularly threatened, but I see it to my mother: the ability to see and hear and to a lesser extent, but still enormously important, the ability to smell and taste.

I see how vulnerable a human being is in that field and how unimaginable important is the visual information and communication that enriches our lives every day.

I do not know well how to prepare for the loss of such vital functions.All I can do is contribute to a society in which people are excluded as little as possible from information and contact possibilities by contributing to municipal policy in that area. And by supporting patient advocacy organisations.

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