This is the setting. It's 11 o'clock at night. I'm at my mother's place. The house is quiet, everyone has gone to sleep. I'm in the guest bedroom, getting ready for the night. My phone rings, Skype. It's Jennifer calling from New Zealand. Strange conversation. No idea what she's talking about. BUT IT WAS HUGE.
Jennifer is so funny. When I met her in Italy she would call herself goofy. And I truly like that word. It's sweet, it's innocent, it's unusual. Being goofy is a quality I love - it brings life to any situation, almost always accidentally. In the same time, Jennifer is also a royal to me. A radiant queen. A beauty on the outside, and so so so generous and wise on the inside. She's taught me a lot. Just imagine her queendom: full of goofy adventures on a truly noble level.
So I pick up the phone, Hi Jenn! Before I could start complaining about my lost money game, she starts talking. Thank god.
She is very enthusiastic. I have a hard time following her. It's almost as if she has started in the middle of a story, expecting me to know the first few chapters. She wants to give me something. It sounds like a flight ticket. Or as if she wants to take me on a trip: "We could go to Hawaii. I have a friend there, we could stay in her little house on the beach."
While she continues talking, my mind goes quite cool: Thank you very much, but I've got no money.
I keep quiet. Thank god.
She explains how it works and that it costs almost nothing to fly there. Just some dollars here and there, mainly airport taxes.
When she pauses, something tells me that I need to act grateful. So mechanically I hear myself saying: "Oh my god, Jenn, that is amazing. To Hawaii?!"
My mind: I only hear her talking about a one way ticket. How do I get back?!
Jennifer continues: "And from Hawaii we could fly to Australia."
My system answers automatically super excited: "Seriously?! All the way to Australia?!"
My mind: Oh god, even further. HOW DO I GET BACK?!
Jennifer explains it all to me. Seats in plane, available, booking in from your computer. But I can't really follow her. My narrow mind thinks only about being stuck in Hawaii or that other island, Australia.
I can't ask for clarification. I mean 'How do I get back?' would sound so ungrateful. As if a one way ticket in itself isn't a great gift already.
At the end of our call, my system is still acting super grateful. Hand on my mouth, while repeating a hundred times in a high voice 'Oh my god, thank you so much!!!' As if I had just won the lottery. Which I actually had, but I didn't know in that moment.
We hang up. For a while I just stare at the black screen of my phone. I pull up my shoulders, having no idea what this was all about. I go to bed.
Suddenly I wake up. Literally, actually. Head on pillow, eyes wide open. A sleepy but true "Oh my god" comes out of my mouth. In a flash I sit up straight. It's 3am and I understand completely what Jennifer has given to me. It is as if my brain needed time to digest information that was SO new to me. I had no idea something like this existed:
For a year I could fly around the world with an international American flight company. Anywhere, anytime. Almost for free.
Jennifer had been a flight attendant for many years. Now as a part of her retirement she and her husband Fred can still make use of the airline company. Not all flights are fully booked, so often there are seats available - through an online system they can book themselves in. It's called flying as a stand-by.
Besides her and Fred, she can choose two other people to travel as a stand-by. For years it had been her sister and her husband. But they'd just moved that year, so they weren't going to use it. And now Jennifer has given this incredible opportunity to me.
No more sleep for me. Amazement running through my body.
I run downstairs. My mother is sitting in her black lounge chair, drinking coffee, scrolling her iPad. Without saying goodmorning, I shout: "You know what happened yesterday?"
Mum, still looking at her screen: "What?"
Me: "Jennifer called me and she told me I can travel for a year, anytime, anywhere, FOR FREE!"
Mum, looking at me: "Are you sure?"
After two weeks living in this fantasy story (and many people asking 'Are you sure?) I need a reality check. I decide to call Jennifer and ask if she could explain the whole thing again.
And yes, thank god: FANTASY AND REALITY ARE ONE! She didn't tell me about return tickets, because the whole thing Is an ongoing-to-wherever ticket. I could fly back, but I could also fly further.
On the 6th of June is my first flight as a stand-by. On my birthday. Plus: it gives money half a year to do it's job. I mean, he's got some serious work to do. And loyal as money is: within a couple of weeks new business was coming in.
First destination: visiting Jennifer and Fred in their other home in Pennsylvania. The day before, the 5th of June, Jennifer calls me again. She's got a surprise for me: for my flight from Amsterdam to New York, she's booked me into Business Class. As a birthday present.
So here I am. The big loser of the Big Money Game. Flying Business Class to the USA. And only 10 days later, I would find myself in Hawaii for two weeks. In a little wooden house at a almost private bay. Drinking coffee with turtles. Dolphins around. A hammock between two palm trees in the backyard - from where I could see all this beauty.
Now how about that?!
With total joy,
PS The picture above is with Jennifer and me. And below it's us in Hawaii.
THE ART OF BEING HM DE GROOT
On one hand creating is a matter of just doing. Simple is that. But on the other hand it takes a lot to get to that point of creation. Besides techniques and materials it's a lot about... yourself. It goes up and down. From being in the flow to being convinced it all makes no sense. From exhilarating discoveries and breakthroughs to lonely moments in the endless desert of emptiness.