It all began somewhere in the eighties with me screaming and kicking my way into the world. It’s called being born and it’s very traumatic apparently. This happened in the city of Nijmegen in The Netherlands.
When I was but two years old, my dad got an offer to move to Japan, taking the family along. The chance of a lifetime and I found myself in the city of Kobe for the next four years. I guess the eastern influence started there. I learned to eat rice – a big deal when you’re that young and used to potatoes - and even managed to eat it with chopsticks.
Of course when we got back to The Netherlands four years later I was somewhat different than my classmates. For starters, I associated going to school with talking in English. It’s not a language Dutch kids understand when they are six. Of course being different is a bad idea in school, but it never became an issue.
The nineties and high school
Fast forward a couple of years. It’s now halfway through the nineties and among my weekly pass-times were Scouting, playing Magic – The Gathering, learning to play the flute and training in Judo. I’m no longer a scout, though I know how to tie ropes together and can build a proper fire. I no longer play the flute, I gave the guitar a try instead. And I must confess that I still have some Magic decks lying around here somewhere.
As for Judo, I did that for quite some time and got good at it. But like all things in life when you’re a teenager, you rebel against what is. And so I stopped training that as well. Smart kid.
How did I end up with this degree?
After graduating high school without any problems. I was rather stuck, I had no idea where I wanted to go with my life. And some bad decisions later I found myself the better part of a decade into the future with a Bachelors degree in Health. Although half way through I already knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life I did finish it. To have at least “something” of an accomplishment in the academics.
It’s at the same time that I discovered my discontent with my present education that I started training in martial arts. T’ai Chi was my choice and I took the occasional lesson and weekend training in Cheng Hsin. Zen was also introduced and soon I found myself looking a lot into developing both my mind and my body.
The start of “Mind the Beginner”
The year is 2008 and not only do I have a degree, I train in various martial arts, I ride a motorcycle (that I maintain myself), and I’m discovering more and more books and blogs online about Lifestyle Design, Vagabonding, Location Independent Professionals and a few other topics.
Without to much thought I start a blog called “Mind the Beginner” having no clear focus for the blog, but knowing that I have a keen interest in Zen and want to see what this blogging is all about, form the inside. It’s around this time that I start to seriously question what I want to do with my life.
And so the search began, there should be some kind of theme in my life. Some kind of recurring event or activity that would be a good start. So I look back and see myself at age four, “programming” with MSX Logo. At age ten, playing computer games on an amiga 500+. In high school discovering the Internet as it began to grow. In University enjoying building powerpoint presentations, working with statistics and explaining computer-related stuff to my fellow students.
So, something with computers seemed the right choice. But I was allergic to math. Or rather, I wasn’t very good at it in high school and kept telling myself I could not do it. You know how that works right?
My choice became information science at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. I’m going for a MSc., perhaps even a PhD. I have a proper collection of brain cells, I just haven’t used them properly in the past and at times still struggle
In this profession I’ll become the spider in the web of IT development. There are several parties concerned with every IT project, and all to often they don’t understand each other, or themselves for that matter. It’s my job to get everyone on the same track.
This requires some serious skills, not only knowledge of people and psychology, but also negotiation tactics, requirements engineering, programming, data mining and much more.
Zen and Martial arts
To get those brain cells to comply I’ve been meditating almost daily for the last few years ever since taking a two weekend course in Zen.
As for the martial arts, this is a great compliment to Zen. Together they give me my daily fix of endorphins and a way to vent adrenaline. Also, there is nothing like being caught of balance or getting a punch to let you know that you are not in the present.
Where did lifestyle design, online income and minimalism go?
I have a rather conventional, perhaps even traditional path set out. Get an education and take a 9-5 job. Or I could start my own business. Either way, having a feel for what’s going on online is a good idea.
The online income might be a bit of a fantasy I have. I still (after thinking about it for years) haven’t done my best to accomplish this. Ideas enough, but I keep stopping myself. Food for thought there, food for meditation. I already earn a few dollars now and then, but it’s not significant yet….Yet.
I see it more as an ongoing experiment in getting to know myself, getting to know others, getting to know how the internet works. A lot of knowing there, and that might just be what is stopping me. No matter how much you know, there will always be uncertainty.
Lastly, the minimalism. That’s just a side-effect of me thinking about life and meditating. I find that the more I know, the less I need. And at the moment, I see little use for just about everything I still own save my laptop, clothing, a bag, a bed and my meditation pillow.
Where to next
Over the coming months and years I’ll keep looking into martial arts, Zen and all the things that come along online. I’ll still fantasize about the online income, and about being completely free. But at the same time I’ll keep reality with my and do my best to get that degree.
The latest development is that through training in Cheng Hsin I met a guy who told me about a Zen group, right here on campus. They meditate two hours each morning. I’ll be joining them soon, stepping up my meditation training.
As for my three goals, they still stand. I want to become as mobile as possible, to train in martial arts across Europe. The online income will pay for that, perhaps an online income as information scientist. And lastly, the proper daily schedule makes it all possible. Staying in bed till noon, watching reruns of Start Trek and checking Facebook every five minutes is not a part of that schedule.