There is a monument in Amsterdam. Everyone knows it. It is on the square right across from the Heineken brewery. Thousands of tourists must pass it every day. The text is in Dutch. It is a quote by Henk van Randwijk, a fighter in the resistance during WWII. Loosely translated, the words say:
A population that yields to tyrants
Loses more than life and limbs
Then the light will go out…
We have our elections today in the Netherlands. From what I understand in the media, we are being watched eagerly to see what will happen politically on the European continent. I hope the Dutch people will find wisdom in their hearts and minds today. May we not yield to tyrants.
It is tempting to keep pretending that the year is only just starting. Yet it is much like on a work floor with colleagues trying to avoid wishing each other happy new year: how about we all agree that by the time we don’t want to kiss and smile and wish each other best and tell each other how much champagne we had (too much / not enough*), we also stop making lists and resolutions and to-do lists and try to get things done? Okay then.
One of the things that is on my list for 2017 – the list I made before the year started because yay me and also I hate kissing people for new year’s except my man – is reading. I have been neglecting my reading list and honestly, I need the input. This year fo sho am I going to finish NaNoWriMo** and how can one write well when one doesn’t read (well). When a friend posted the PopSugar Reading Challenge 2017 on social media, I just had to join. First book: about food. Hamburgers in Paradise: digging in!
And so I need books this year: fun books, good books, terrific books. I do not need books that make me sad or angry; I am a very empathic reader and misery in books makes me miserable in real life. It is not worth it, everybody around me suffers when the main character in my book suffers. Recommendations welcome: I loved The Goblin Emperor, I adore anything by Neil Gaiman, I intend to read Caitlin Moran, I get tired of classic fantasy, most Dutch writers make me want to throw stuff at the wall (not good), and I don’t do biographies.
*Strike through what is not applicable
**Unless I am busy with the well-paying, happy-making job of my dreams
Today I told my mother how I admired Carrie Fisher for her wisdom and wit, her talent and writing skills. How I respected her as an intelligent and thoughtful woman, and how sorry I was that we lost her. My mother then told me that I better do all that then. If the world would miss all that, I better step in and be that woman. I have to say, the reason she called me in the first place was to ask who Carrie Fisher was. I had texted my sadness and she was at a loss at the name and so she rang me. Princess Leia was a name she remembered, and then she proceeded, probably unwittingly, to drop the above on me: quite possibly the most profound wisdom with which she has ever presented me.
General Organa, the role Fisher (re)prised in the Star Wars universe, is closer to me than Princess Leia has ever been. Sure enough I thought Leia was cool, and tough, and pretty, and I wanted to be like her. But the calm determination of the princess-turned-general, no longer a loose rebel canon but a steady force to be reckoned with, that is a beacon. Gen. Organa does not compromise herself – just as Carrie Fisher was so unapologetically Carrie Fisher. She never claimed to be without fear but embraced it, even in darkness, used it to go beyond herself and claim the terrain she gained as her own.
My mother’s off-hand-yet-completely-on-the-ball-remark is as real as they come. Be intelligent and thoughtful. Use your wisdom (such as it is) and wit, talent and skills. Be that woman. Because nobody else will be you.