My colourful life

Which events in your life can you give a more positive colour ?

All kinds of situations and events are happening in my life. Some of these make me happy and others continue to upset me. The question is: which colour do you give them? Something light and positive? Or dark and negative? I try to become aware of that, because I find that the colour I decide to give them has great impact on my level of happiness.

Which events in your life can you give a more positive colour ?

All kinds of situations and events are happening in my life. Some of these make me happy and others continue to upset me. The question is: which colour do you give them? Something light and positive? Or dark and negative? I try to become aware of that, because I find that the colour I decide to give them has great impact on my level of happiness.

It dawned on me recently that I can give an event a more positive colour more often. It was an emergency landing we experienced this summer that made me realize this.

On our way back from Thailand this summer, me and my two children were alarmed by the announcement that we had to return to Bangkok after only 1 hour into our flight. We were told that “there was probably a bird in our engine.” The pilot decided to get rid of excess fuel and fly lower.  The fire engines were waiting for us…

It was very frightening. For a relatively short period of time, I was busy studying the safety manual with my two children and looking around me to see what was going to happen to us.

Having landed safely in Bangkok, we spent a long and complicated day full of uncertainty, stress and hassle before we could continue our journey back home to Holland. An additional misfortune was that because of the delay I just missed my partner who went abroad for a few weeks.

Initially, the bad feelings about these events dominated our wonderful experience of travelling around Thailand. I realized that I gave my holiday a dark grey colour.

However, I had been reading the diary of the Jewish Etty Hillesum during my summer holidays. She was born in Middelburg in Zeeland (which happens to be my place of birth) and she died in Auschwitz. She writes about her life, thoughts and emotions in 1941 and 1942. She set me an example of giving your life a positive colour despite her very grave misfortunes.

Of course the circumstances in Etty’s life were very extreme, and I can hardly compare them to my feelings of anxiety during and after the emergency landing, but still her life story inspired me.

A few sentences from Etty's diary, when she was in the concentration camp barracks:

“I am not feeling homesick, because I am at home. One is ‘at home’. My home is underneath the stars. We are at home regardless of where we are on earth, if we carry everything within ourselves.”

She volunteered in Westerbork in order to inspire others. Until she was transported to Auschwitz, she continued to write about feeling grateful for her life. She enjoyed (complicated) love, nature, the city of Amsterdam, and the people in her life.

It gives me a great deal of insight that she accepts everything the way it is. Until the day she is put on transport she writes: “Life is so meaningful. Living and dying, suffering and joy, the blisters on our poor feet and the jasmine flowers behind the house, the persecutions and the endless cruelties. Everything and everything inside of me is one strong whole, and I accept everything as one united whole.”

I thought about Etty and how she gave the most horrendous events in her life a different colour. I decided to give my return flight from Thailand a different colour: light turquoise. This made me appreciate my own alert and proactive attitude, particularly because I was the only adult. I could see how my children felt responsible for their suitcases and how they helped to make the best of a bad situation. The whole ordeal became so much lighter.

I can be grateful again for the wonderful time we had in Thailand. A journey during which we visited my father, who has been living there for 15 years, for the first time. A journey during part of which we travelled together with my sister and her family. And during which we met up with good friends. And we also saw the impressive Death Railway on which my grandfather worked.

This journey together with my children was an intensive and valuable experience. A journey that really deserved being coloured positively.

And what is this like for you?
Which events in your life can you give a more positive colour?

Warm regards,
Marijn

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