Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Adulthood came to me when I was 25. I was living in Aspen, Colorado at the time and my life was fully dedicated to having fun. Even though I worked 3 or 4 jobs just to stay afloat, it felt like I had taken a long vacation from living the responsible, adult type of life. I decided that it was time to get serious about my life and ambitions. Playtime was over, I needed to buckle down and decide what my future was going to be like and then create it.

Aspen is the single most wonderful place to play. Sitting in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, some of the most pristine landscapes in the world it seems as far away from reality as you can get. Even the Aspen Daily News at the time sported just a half a page of news from anywhere else, appropriately named "the real world" at the very last page. There was live music happening every night, winters filled with apres ski parties (skiing too but I never got into that much) summers full of sunshine, art, music festivals. Famous artists from all over the world came to Aspen to perform.
There's symphony's and concerts on the lawn with live performances from students of the Aspen Music School.
Summer was my favorite time also because of the Windstar Symposium, in which I was involved as a volunteer, bringing together some of the most innovative thinkers on sustainable energy and social responsibility. When you got tired of all the excitement, all you had to do was take a walk into the mountains and you'd be surrounded by beauty. The air is crisp and clean, every turn of the trail showing another amazing vista.

Working as an illegal alien has it's drawbacks. Since I was getting ready to really build a life for myself, I felt I couldn't afford to be an illegal alien. What if I had just bought a home or a car and I got deported? I decided that if I were going to make a go of it I had to go back to Holland, finish my education and come back legal. Of course, as is often the case with ambitious plans, it didn't quite happen that way. I got back to Holland and everything I had been running away from came crashing back in. I slumped into a depression that lasted for two years. Life as an adult sure turned out to be more difficult than I had expected.

What I learned from that nervous breakdown is: you can't run away from the demons that live inside you. But what I learned from living the good life in Aspen is that there is joy in the world as well, life is full of possibilities and wonder. That wonder never left me, even in my most self-destructive moments. In the six years I lived there I built up a storehouse of positive images and anchors to help me through the rough stuff.This has proved to be an important skill in the art of living.

Helpful hint:
"Remember the good times, especially when going through the bad!"

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