It`s the first of February today, which means that I am exactly halfway the `Us Europeans` project. It`s quite a strange moment, in a way even scary, and I will try to explain why.
For the first 6 months of this project, I have felt like a hiker climbing one side of mountain to eventually reach the other side. Up until the moment of reaching the top, it`s only the few metres in front that really matter. Of course, a good hiker knows his direction and thinks ahead, but what matters most is not to step on the wrong stone and fall off the mountain. Every now and then, a quick break allows for a quick glance over the shoulder, making me feel proud of how far I got since I started. And with the path walked as a main point of reference.
..trying to manage for a safe landing in 6 months time
Now halfway, I feel like having reached the top of the mountain. Instead of focussing on the ground straight in front of me, I now have a view that stretches to two sides: 360 degrees. It no longer only shows how far I got, it also shows how much more there`s left to do. As mountaineers know, descending is at least as difficult as climbing. Seeing a village in the valley doesn`t by any means imply that you are already there. The road down is never as short as it seems and it`s hard to estimate how curvy the roads will be. Still, there is no way of not thinking about the end of the hike once you start the descent.
Most people ask me practical questions about this trip. The answers to those, you can find here, but there is some kind of intangible story behind the trip as well. For some people, it is difficult to understand that you take one year to travel from one place to the exact same place, in this case The Hague in The Netherlands. The best shortcut would be to stay at home altogether. It would save a year of time, a lot of energy and a lot of money. But such is life. That also starts and ends at the same place, and it`s just as easy to take a shortcut on it.
My main purpose of this trip was understanding and I truly believe that I have as much the right as I have the duty to work on this project. Doing this is being who I am at this moment. `Us Europeans` combines the talents and the dreams I have today and I feel happy I can put them into practice in this way. It`s not always easy, but it`s definitely worth the efforts.
Making use of it
Before leaving, I had set the halfway point as the moment I would start to think about how to use this experience in the future. About how to integrate it in real life, even though I would be happy to argue with anybody who claims that what I am doing now does not qualify as real life. It is real life at best and the nature of the project requires me to live it at full. There are no emergency exits nor waiting rooms ? every challenge needs to be dealt with upfront. While understanding was the primary objective of the journey, I can conclude that consciousness is the main result so far.
In today`s world, flexibility is a major asset and I think learning about different backgrounds and logics is bound is bound to stretch my psychological abilities, in the way juggling is known to do the same.
The same applies to the information I collect throughout this project. It may not be presented in the most exciting way. Instead, it aims to carefully examine some basic ingredients that make up the EU diversity, one ingredient next to the other. No, it`s not a meal yet, and there is no recipe.
To those who are truly interested in my findings, I will be happy to present all the recipes and meals that can be cooked from these ingredients. They may come as newspaper columns, they may reappear in TV programs, they may be part of conferences or trainings and they may be bundled into a book. But there will be meals and everybody is invited to join.
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