Last Ecomishmash post

October 23, 2013

Ecomishmash has been my online identity for some time and this blog has been at the centre for reaching out to you. At that time of launching this blog, I was living some distance away from the place called home. The internet is there to make distances a little shorter. So Ecomishmash aimed to bring you closer to my world, my way of thinking. I spend much closer to home last year and Ecomishmash became quieter.

About a week ago, I went back to the UK. I could still vividly remember the last time I was standing on the docks in Dover, waiting for the ferry to the continent whilst the rain washed away the last remainders of the summer of 2012. At that moment I was very conscious I was leaving aspects of my life, slightly affright and sad. But deep inside I knew I had to let go, not to stick to the place.

At my arrival last week, I was dropped off in the centre of London at six in the morning. Memories of the first time I came to the UK came back to my mind. It was on a Sunday morning nine years ago I got off the Eurostar at Waterloo station. I was 20, on my own, naive and immature. My command of English was sub-standard, good enough for travel, but not to live there permanently.

Student accommodations where I lived between 2004-2005 (Uxbridge-London)

I went to sit in Waterloo station for some time, observing and reflecting what has changed over these nine years. That time, commuters were listening to their new iPods, closing themselves off from others whilst texting on their Nokia’s. Now, everyone is being social in the online world whilst ignoring their surroundings. We drink better coffee, electronic tickets make it easier to get on and off the public transport and a diversified selection of free newspapers helps us keep up with the important changes in society. Sorry I am being sarcastic, no major changes happened apart from the Eurostar going to St. Pancras now instead, leaving a death space at the station.

Than I came to the realisation many aspects of me as a person changed from living in the UK. At first I had to change my behaviour according to the system. Use different money, look at the right side to cross the street, speak a different language, get used to different food,… basically it is essential for survival. Shortly after, I became aware of the different norms. I bounced into odd habits like queueing to get in an empty venue or being over polite with strangers. I started to understand the nuances in the language, the manners, how to get something done and also, the humour starts to make sense. After some time living according to this new behaviour and norms, the new environment starts to penetrate deep in my mind. I can say that, apart from getting older, my experience of living in the UK definitely altered the way I look at stability, freedom, ambiguity, privacy, conformity, equality, participation, collaboration, creativity, the outdoors, joy, quality, tradition,

The house where I lived between 2008-2009 (Cranfield-England)

But reflecting back on all the changes over these years, the biggest change happened during the last one and a half years, a change within me. Before this transition-point, my mind was slowly becoming my world and I think this got amplified by being in the UK. I was a knowledge worker and the main thing going on in my life was mental activity, including; fighting, forcing, stressing, doubting, wondering, trying, frustrating, exaggerating and a lot of pondering and procrastinating. Even “relaxing” became a tiring mental activity. So even-tough my mind was formally trained, it was still a wild animal. Its diet was a monotone mix of all I could read, hear and taste. Its actions were driven by either wanting or avoiding situations. It was fighting or being exhausted from it, in both cases unable to listen to subtle signals. Signals from my body, the people and environments around me.

I am turning away from this destructive pattern and start to see the world around me much clearer. I am much more aware of my body and the impact of my actions. I seek a balanced lifestyle where both my mind and body can stay healthy, fit and active. I am slowly learning not to let my mind take over my world. Not to waste energy in the fighting but to work patiently on peaceful solutions. To let a big one-off exciting thing for what it is and to appreciate the subtleties in everyday life. I am learning to listen to my body and to use all my senses. I see it as a positive transition.

Galleon way

view from my Cardiff apartment 2009-2012 (Wales)

So last week I went back with a fresh pair of eyes to the place where it all happened. The country where I learned so much, met the most inspiring people, made friends for life, got the wildest natural experiences and cultivated unique values.  The place where I was much more free to be myself, but also drove me to something I was deeply unhappy about, yet couldn’t see.

So what I saw was something I already knew, but never took the impact of it seriously. It is a society on the surface doing well, but suffering under a lot of stress. A society where individuals are being proud of their busy-ness, but getting frustrated with everything slowing them down on their way (cyclist for example). A society where ego’s are cultivated by brands, money, history, narcotics, politics and education.

This stress becomes obvious in the way it gets released. Alcohol, meat, 3G, gadgets, cheap travel, promiscuous fashion, bling-bling, petrol-heats,… very impermanent, addictive and highly valued in British society. Every weekend city centres turn into bonkers. Fashion victims and binge drinking could be seen as the sub-cultures of millennials. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, ‘binge’ is an important ingredient in mainstream British culture. Buy one get one free, meal deals, unlimited watching, go for ‘a’ pint after work, a 3th runway, 4G,…  It is excellent fuel for the economy, but it is not good for body nor mind and undermines the social fabric.

Last weekend was good to reflect on my experiences of living in the UK. Many good values I formed over there will stick, some of those even clash with the values embraced at home, but that is how it is. I am grateful to everyone who made this experience possible to me. I am happy I am creating distance of the destructive behavioural patterns I got involved in and feel compassion for the people who are stuck in it.

The trip helped me realise that in my life, the biggest innovation and the greatest innovator are equal, it is me, myself. I learned not to stick to one place, one set of values or believes and to know when to let go. I am not going to let my experience, wisdom and judgment blocking me from approaching truly new things and rather use it to enjoy more meaningful things.

For me it is also time to let go of Ecomishmash. I enjoyed writing to you and I hope you enjoyed it too. I think Ecomishmash succeeded in creating a ‘mishmash’ i.e. a confused mixture. But I am at a point where I want to create more clarity. Probably this is my last post and hopefully we bump into each other in the real world or find me back under an other online identity.

So long,



One Response to “Last Ecomishmash post”

  1. Els04 Says:

    Waar het echt om gaat dus. Niet altijd makkelijk, nooit evident maar wel echt en goed. Mooi!

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