Essays (English)

Contemplative prose texts.

BG 126 – Love for language

Many people don’t like to read anymore.
Books, long texts, never mind!
Give us passive entertainment
and short summaries.
TLDNR (too long, did not read).

We prefer to be on social media,
we prefer gaming, we watch movies,
we stream series.
There’s nothing wrong with that. But…
we don’t (like to) read anymore.
As a result, we lose language skills
and our pleasure in reading.

We are falling behind in a society where
everything revolves around language.
Our chance of finding a good job,
being able to stand up for ourselves,
being able to understand forms,
being able to use websites,
getting good health care,
being able to recognize fake news,
being well informed and therefore
making good decisions.

Of course, there are many other
fun things to do besides reading
books and texts.
But without reading skills and
without language skills,
we miss a lot of beautiful things and
we might fall hopelessly behind.

Don’t lose your love for language!


(According to a number of articles I read recently, people would find it easier to read texts if the beginnings of the words are in bold. Does that work for you?)

BG 123 – Birthday

Today I turned 58 years old.
You can’t call that middle age with the best will in the world, unless you believe I’m going to live to be 116 years old.
I am already well over halfway and already quite worn out, but I have learned many wise lessons.
That we ourselves determine the meaning of our lives, for example.
That we should not let other people determine who we are and what we should do with our lives.
That life consists of time, that it is finite, that it seems to go faster and faster.
That we ourselves also consist of time and are therefore finite. That this finiteness makes life worth living, makes it precious.
And that we can give meaning to that fleeting time by grabbing pieces of it and slowing them down.
By filling them meaningfully, like by spending time with our loved ones, going on trips, gaining new experiences, reading, writing, looking at art, making art, listening to music, making music, helping people, caring for animals, gardening, admiring nature and help protect it.
Every now and then grab hold of the life that flies by at a fast pace and make good memories. And learn positive lessons from the negative experiences, which are just as much part of our life.
And sometimes just sit in an easy chair and enjoy the passing of time.
Happiness consists of scarce and therefore precious fine moments and good memories. Not of chasing ever more, ever better, ever higher, ever more exciting –  because then we never have enough –, but of enjoying the here and now, of what is there.
Of the beautiful nature, which is at the same time fleeting and timeless.
And not worrying about what isn’t there now, what isn’t there anymore and what isn’t there yet and probably never will be.
Happiness consists of living fully in the moment and not worrying about our limitations.
Happiness consists of enjoying all forms of love, of imagination, of creation, of nature and of all the beautiful things we have already experienced.
Until our time is up and we return the atoms from which we are built to the universe.
I am grateful that I have been alive for 58 years already, I cherish many fond memories and hope that there are some more to come.
Hip hip, hooray!

BG 121 – The power of the (old) white men

The fact that straight white men – including those who should have retired long ago – are mostly in charge of our society is not (as they themselves and also many women believe) due to their superior brains and their superior strength and ingenuity. On the contrary.
The fact that white men think they are automatically entitled to all top positions in politics, in companies, in clubs, and at home, is because they are, well, pretty stupid.
And they are thick-skinned.

There are many things that (old) white men don’t realize.
For example, that women are generally better at leadership and at dividing their attention over several important matters at the same time.
That women are better at detecting and analyzing problems, at finding creative solutions, at choosing the most effective and efficient solution, and at planning its implementation.
That women are less inclined to aggression, violence and to pushing through their own opinion, and that they listen better. That they not only listen to what is being said, but also to what is not spoken aloud.
That women attach less importance to…

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BG 116 – Tolerance

We humans tell each other stories.
In fact: our civilization is made up of storytelling.
Unfortunately, the stories about everything that is wrong with the world are constantly and enthusiastically told and shared, while the stories about everything that is pretty and going well with the world receive much less attention.
Because apparently, we get less excited about them.
We pay more attention to what makes us angry.

The result of that unrestrained anger is a culture in which people no longer understand the other, have no feeling for the past or context.
A culture in which groups of people quickly feel victimized.
Our collected stories, …

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BG 110 – Thoughts on the internet and social media

There is nothing inherently wrong with the internet and social media.
They are very useful and popular.

But because politics, education, healthcare and legislation always lag behind technological developments, especially since the exponential growth that is inherent to digitization, a number of things have been messed up.
– A handful of computer geeks have become absurdly rich with the introduction of the internet, online commerce and social media. It’s time we pump those extreme riches back into society. We could even use that money to solve climate problems and restore nature.
– That same handful of computer geeks have become far too powerful for lack of appropriate legislation. It is high time we gave that power back to our elected representatives.
– A large group of users of the internet and social media have inadvertently become addicted to dopamine kicks, addicted to shopping, victims of psychological problems and/or convinced of extreme and incorrect ways of thinking.

But now back to the technology.
The internet is a wonderful system that gives the majority of people access to almost all existing knowledge. We all benefit from that.
Social media were created to facilitate and revolutionize our social interaction. That also worked out well.
But not in the way we envisioned.

Guess what? …

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BG 36 – Wait a minute

Our life is very different from that of our ancestors.
Long live progress!
But since the introduction of automation, we have been exaggerating.
We confuse progress with consuming ever more and ever faster, and have lost sight of the limits of our physical and mental health, of the resilience of our environment and the exhaustion of our natural resources.

We are living faster than ever before

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BG 32 – Dutch Directness

‘Hi, how are you? Where are you from?’
‘Do you have a boyfriend? No? A girlfriend?’
‘How old are you?’
‘Where do you live? Oh yes, that’s nice. I’d love to live there too.’
‘So, how much rent do you pay?’
‘Are you here on holiday? How long will you stay?’
‘Why are you friends with him?’
‘You’re late.’
‘You look great! Better than when I met you last week.’
‘Have you put on weight?’

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BG 27 – Books

I love books.
For as long as I can read, I have loved all kinds of books: fiction and non-fiction, novels, short stories, poetry, books in every genre, on every subject.

The public library in the town hall was one of my favorite places in my youth, with its hollow silence, disrupted by hesitant piano notes from the music school above it, and its typical dusty smell of books.

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BG 14 – Yes you can

People often say ‘I can’t draw’ or ‘I can’t write.’
But is that really true?

Unless you have a physical disability that prevents you from moving the tip of a pen or pencil over a piece of paper, or from using the keyboard or mouse of a computer, you can draw and write!

Maybe the standards you set for yourself

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