#52 Adaptive, yes!
We spent the weekend on Texel, the largest of the islands on Holland’s northern coast. The island is home to one of my favorite runs through the forest, dunes, and the beach. Halfway through the run, when you leave the beach, there’s a 10 or 12-meter climb up a steep, sandy slope. I’ve come to see this as a check-up on my endurance and character.
I don’t worry too much about running 10 or 15 kilometers. At a steady pace, it is a simple matter of one foot in front of the other. Running 10k on a Saturday says little about my fortitude at a given moment. The Texel climb is a different story. I don’t always make it to the top. One foot in front of the other — and significantly above it — is too much for me. This weekend, I made it to two-thirds. Check-up… failed. My endurance and mental strength aren’t on par.
Likewise, I do not think you can say much about a society’s health and success by judging it when everything is normal. Most people steadily moving along does not tell a story. It is by looking at how a society performs when it has to struggle uphill, in crisis, and for its weakest members that you can judge its performance. On all counts, the Netherlands has failed over the past week. I don’t even think they made it two-thirds up the hill.
Two weeks ago, quite unexpectedly, virtually all Covid restrictions were dropped. Although vaccinations were going well, many young people haven’t been fully vaccinated, and also, older people like me only have had one shot. Quite expectedly, infections are through the roof—a failure of imagination on the politicians making the calls.
These infections occur primarily in young people that haven’t been vaccinated yet. Unlike earlier in the crisis, when we all had to be considerate for the few that suffered most, now it is fine to point fingers. Young people, after all, are a nuisance. Apart from wanting to party, they’re the same people that make all the fuss about climate change, protest against growing inequality, etcetera. So now, young people are the enemy—a failure of empathy.
A few years ago, I decided to try to appreciate things that were different, maybe even odd. People, houses, books, you name it. My life had taken a decisive turn towards the ordinary, the expected. I had to make an effort to keep the extraordinary on my good side. When I saw a person on the streets dressed differently, I said to myself, “I like you for standing out.”
We’re in for a bumpy ride. Our inability, nationally, globally, to end the pandemic may last for years. On top of that, we will have to learn to expect the worst from our weather. Steep, sandy hills abound. We will have to learn to suppress our desire for the expected, the ordinary and learn to excel uphill.
Quickly, a few things last week I liked that were out of the ordinary.
At Zuiver, I bought a bottle of activist wine: Vinos Ambiz – Pet Nat Rosado 2020. The label has a quote by Gretha T and a very detailed list of what the wine’s maker, Fabio Bartolomei, did and didn’t do with the grapes.
On Wednesday, I attended an event at The Field, Leiden’s circular meeting space. We were joined by chickens midway through the presentation.
Now that we’re talking circular buildings in Leiden, on Tuesday, I visited BioPartner 5. This new office building is also maximally circular. We spoke with its owner, who made it clear that for him, joining the circular economy was the only thing that made sense. Another entrepreneur echoed a similar sentiment the day after. If you want to make it in the future, go circular now.
After BioPartner, I played my part in the circular economy by picking up a bakfiets at Leiden University. We borrow this bike for our festival in September and have it refurbished by a circular woodworks workshop. There, I met the architect of both The Field and BioPartner 5, and we chatted about how to get more people to join us.
On Thursday, the good people at FloatScans presented their time machine, a state-of-the-art solution for 3D scanning priceless artifacts. I had been around when the idea for this startup emerged, and it is gratifying to see how far Max, Bob, and their team have taken it. Stunning.
With the team, we’ve been pushing and pulling to get our festival on track, all of it, with everyone, and I feel we’re on the verge of something special. I get a good 5-10 calls a day now from strangers that want to join or link up in other ways. We say “yes” to everything. It is the only thing we know how to do.
Adaptiveness and saying yes. That’s a good summary!
See you next week, until then, take care.