Twalk With Me for MasterPeace13 July 2011It was a passing remark from my stepfather while I was on Skype with my mom: “Don't forget what you set out to achieve!” More a warning than a demand, because except for the disappointment friends, family and followers might feel if I do not finish my journey, the only one that would really pay the price for ignoring my dreams is me. Punishment can come in many forms: bitterness, shame, self-loathing, self-doubt, but most importantly, it would mean that I have given up the belief that has slowly been growing in my heart over the past few months, that purpose and meaning are not empty concepts, and that to find them and make them your own you have to dare to listen to your heart and act.
The reason my stepfather said this now was because I had just arrived to stay in the Lisbon Chillout Hostel for a few weeks, to help out a Dutch friend who is running the hostel. I will use my free time here to prepare for the next part of my trip. Anyone who knows me even a little will know that me working in a hostel is like putting a kid in a candystore, a drunk in a bar, or a pig in the mud, it fits. I am responsible for the evening program: cooking dinner, selling drinks and entertaining the guests. It is the complete opposite from what I have been doing for the past months, because it is now I who is hosting, but knowing how to be a good guest and how to be a good host are not so far apart. My stepfather merely suggested that I might have a hard time going back to walking after this.
A short excerpt from Paolo Coelho's The Alchemist
The old man pointed to a baker standing in his shop window at one corner of the plaza.
“When he was a child, that man wanted to travel, too. But he decided first to buy his bakery and put some money aside. When he’s an old man, he’s going to spend a month in Africa. He never realized that people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
“He should have decided to become a shepherd,” the boy said.
“Well, he thought about that,” the old man said. “But bakers are more important people than shepherds. Bakers have homes, while shepherds sleep out in the open. Parents would rather see their children marry bakers than shepherds.”
“In the long run, what people think about shepherds and bakers becomes more important for them than their own Personal Legends.”
“Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because you are trying to realize your Personal Legend. And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.”
I have never dreamt of being a shepherd nor aspired to be a baker. In fact, I never quite understood how people could imagine what they wanted to be if they had no experience of what it would be like. Also I couldn't imagine why you would want to limit yourself into doing one single thing for the rest of your life. What I couldn't grasp when I was younger was the kind of pleasure you can get from becoming very good at something by sticking to it and continuously improving your skills.
For a long time I aimed at growing in breadth rather than depth, but versatility is not necessarily an asset in a specialized society. Unless off course, if being versatile is the specialization needed to do the job. A friend of mine just awarded me a “professional networker” badge on Facebook and I guess versatility combined with curiosity and social skills enable one to mingle in many crowds. But networking without a cause doesn't amount to anything more than adding to an already large group of mere acquaintances. What I needed was a purpose and I believe I have found it at last.
Be the change you want to see in the world
Injustice and the suffering of innocent people have always affected me deeply. When I first started on my twalk I thought of involving Amnesty International in it, to do some promotional work or fundraising on my journey. Friends persuaded me that that would distract too much from the point I was trying to make, that internet can be a great connector if used in the right way and that people in modern day society haven't changed into antisocial egocentrists just because they happen to look after themselves. I agreed and set out with full attention to proving both points and after nine months of traveling I believe I have succeeded. But I am not turning back just yet.
I used to get in a lot of arguments at home when I talked politics. I am suspicious of too much power being concentrated in any one institution, be it governmental or private. Unlimited democracy to me is just as threatening as dictatorship and I truly believe that governments should limit themselves to a minimum of interferences in the lives of their subjects. By taking responsibility away from people they become less involved, less informed and less confident in their ability to make a difference. My problem has always been that I am emotionally leftist, but rationally rightist, caring greatly about the miseries of the less fortunate, but fearing that some medicines are worse than the disease. I am done theorizing and am now walking my talk. If you want to change something, change it if you can or set an example so that people may start to see what you see, or, in the words of the inspiring Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
Ilco van der Linde and MasterPeace
One man who is definitely 'the change he wants to see in the world' is Ilco van der Linde. When he was only fifteen years old he decided that liberation day - on which the Dutch celebrate the liberation from the Nazi's - was too far removed from the youth for them to give it any thought, let alone participate actively. He decided to organize a music festival to involve them, and with success. In the years that followed every major city in the Netherlands started one and Van der Linde organized them.
Seeing how music can be used to attrack attention Van der Linde continued with Dance4life, an innovative, international initiative designed to inspire, mobilise and unite young people to push back the spread of HIV and AIDS. It is now an international success with dance parties being organized all over the world.
Van der Linde's newest initiative is MasterPeace and I am proud to say that I am now part of it. The mission statement reads as follows:
"We are dedicated to put MUSIC above FIGHTING, DIALOGUE above JUDGEMENT, BREAD above BOMBS and CREATION above DESTRUCTION. Through music, art, social media and the development of the International Day of Peace, MasterPeace will encourage dialogue, togetherness and social sustainability from small local neighborhoods to large conflict areas, worldwide."
MasterPeace does not necessarily aspire to worldpeace, because we are well aware that there are certain things you can't just paint, sing or protest away. But we do believe that there is a chance and a responsibility for people to connect outside the political realm to find a common ground.
Although MasterPeace is not officially launched yet - this will be done on the International Day of Peace on the 21st of September of this year - the organization is well under way to involve people to participate. On the 21st of September 2014 MasterPeace will organize a concert next to the pyramids in Egypt with major artists from fourteen conflict areas in the world - including for instance China and Tibet, Israel and Palestine - playing together. Brazilian writer Paolo Coelho has agreed to make his book The Alchemist come alive. MasterPeace is looking for 10.000 people to make a pilgrimage to Cairo, like the shepherd boy Santiago in the book and I am now the first!
Twalk With Me
This does not mean that my Twalk With Me project changes in outline. I will continue connecting with people through the social media and try to find my places to sleep there. However, this will be done now also in the name of MasterPeace and my new destination is Cairo instead of Jerusalem. I have some ideas about what I want to share with you on my website in this light, and I am now preparing for this in Lisbon. I am for instance investigating whether it is possible to film musicians in the towns that I walk through to play their own or their favorite song for peace. A chain of peace songs from Lisbon to Cairo, it would be grand indeed if I could pull that off. Also I hope to give presentations at schools to promote MasterPeace and inform people on how they can contribute. I did one last month at the University of Marseille and got a lot of positive response.
So you see, although I have a great time here at the Chillout Hostel, I have much to look forward to and I am excited to continue next month. I am now seeking more financial support to be able to keep on walking and concentrate on my goals. My shoes are wearing thin and it is a long way to Cairo. If I can find enough people to help me with a small monthly donation - say, a beer a month :) - then I have no more distractions to complete my mission. Twalking for peace, MasterPeace!
Don't forget to check out the MasterPeace website!
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Posted by Annemarie Sweeris - donderdag 14 juli 2011, 20:14Hi Wijnand,
Wat een mooi verhaal, om zo te lezen :-). Fijn ook dat je er nog zo helemaal voor gaat: MasterPeace is voor ons allemaal een handvat en een reminder dat vrede een zaak is van ons allemaal.
Keep up the good work, oh nee: walk ;-)!
Annemarie, IKV Pax Christi
Posted by HansR - donderdag 14 juli 2011, 21:14I remember my first contact/tweet with you was my remark that you maybe should change at least one destination to another than one of the three great Christian pilgrimage destinations. You protested: it was your freedom to choose. OK. Could live with that. Now I see that you change your destination with a good reason. I tweeted:
Interesting though, in profile Coelho's Alchemist took place of queen, Cairo took place of Jerusalem. Evolution is interesting. Seriously: no goal remains the same throughout the journey! Guts to change is courage for life.
I won't be one of 10.000 but at least you got me reading Coelho which I avoided for a long time.
Good luck with the next step.
NB: Your stepfather maybe right: restarting is hard (own experience)
Posted by Anne Marie - vrijdag 15 juli 2011, 12:56Hi Wijnand, Nice to hear from you, your plan is great and I'd like to Twalk with you while biking through Holland this summer. would be fun!
Posted by tom - dinsdag 19 juli 2011, 15:41Hi there Mr Boon,
good to hear from you. It had been a while. good to hear you found somewhere to help out. Finally on "your" side of the bar. I've had the pleasure to enjoy your hosting skills many a time, and I have to say, that side of the bar suits you...
I thought the idea of gathering songs along the way, was great. If I were you, I'd try to gather as many songs as you can, focussing on peace songs might prove hard.
"Songs of the Mediterranean" sounds like a great plan!
We all know you have a great voice, so try get some duets in there!!!
Hope to hear from you soon!
Good luck with the Masterpeace plan!
Posted by ilee - woensdag 20 juli 2011, 05:36As always, very nice reading dear. Good to hear all is still inspirational and full of wonder. :)
Posted by Tootje Surie - maandag 8 augustus 2011, 09:38Bij was GENOEG is GENOEG. maar dan al na 3 maanden. Ik zette door tot mijn ik mijn doel bereikt had, met in mijn achterhoofd zo snel mogelijk in Compostela aan komen. Bij thuis komst een heel warm ontvangst door vrienden en familie. Geweldig. Bij de vraag doe je het volgend jaar weer was ik geneigd om te zeggen NOOIT MEER. Maar ik hield me in en zei NOOIT MEER OP DEZE MANIER, waar mee ik bedoelde nooit meer zo lang. Nu na een maand rust en weer bij komen begint het langzamerhand een heel klein beetje te kriebelen. Ik denk dat je stiefvader ongelijk heeft als je je zelf maar de tijd en de rust gunt. En niet nu gaan denken o, ik MOET straks weer verder. Het komt vast welweer terug. Ik ben veel pelgrims tegen gekomen en jij vast ook wel die het al voor de zoveelste keer doen, misschien niet zulke lange tijden maar ze doen het toch weer. Ik ben nu al zo ver dat ik hoop dat ik nog eens iets dergelijks kan onder nemen. Maar anders en ik denk en hoop dat er iets dergelijks ook bij jou zal gebeuren. Geniet van de andere kant van het pelgrim zijn. Het zal je verrijken. Groeten Tootje
Twalk With Me - Walking and Talking 6000 miles with just an iPhone and a guitar
2e Binnenvestgracht 15, 2312 BZ Leiden52.1639474.48465/graphics/map.icon.png1Studio de Veste
2e Binnenvestgracht 15
2312 BZ Leiden
The road so far
2e Binnenvestgracht 15
2312 BZ Leiden
The road so far