This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara
Before our call I always give her a headsup.
“It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”
Bilbo, Lord of the Rings
I think one of the problems with a terrible war happening on the edges of your continent, is that after a week you no longer register the sound of overflying apaches and jets.
And you no longer associate nightly rumbles and blaring sirens with catastrophe having come your way.
You stop wondering if Putin is really engaging in peace negotiations or if he is just buying time to give the military freighters that have just passed through Japanese waters, a chance to make it to Ukraine, conquer it, and spread his reign of “purification”, I believe the word was, there.
After four weeks, the atrocities of war, the impunity of Russia’s violence against Ukrainian civilians, the repression of the Russian people by their own despotic government, their inability to effectively combat the dictatorship Russia has lived under more often than not for the past hundreds of years, and finally, the threat of World War III, nuclear weapons, or the Russian made or unintended nuclear accidents in Ukraine’s power plants;
After four weeks they become the backdrop of everyday life.
We had municipal elections, and I still turned out to be living in the Dutch equivalent of Middle Earth’s Bree;
So you become like Bilbo, reluctant to hear the words of the wizard about the big world, and prefer to focus on what’s for dinner.
I realized my “small business” mindset, when I wanted to make business cards for my creative or independent work, for Dutch people I meet.
I had made international business cards a few months ago, and it had really provided me with a solid identity. And although I m still working on the execution, I have not changed course since then.
My English work under my real name has been coherent for months.
For a moment, I thought I had reached this point as well for my Dutch work. That the time had come to make it official.
I have split my Dutch work in two: One is the yoga side of things. And this is really where the hobbit feeling comes into play, because unlike what I thought about revolutionizing yoga, making a mark and making it marketable and profitable, and so on; I ve realized Dutch yoga is absolutely not meant for that. That it is really meant to be as low-key and cozy as Bree.
That there is no shame in keeping things very, very simple. And that is exactly what I intend to do.
So I ll be building a free online yoga community, also with the possibility that if future natural gas prices and real estate opportunities allow for it, we can turn it into real life yoga and perhaps even into a real yoga studio.
It was for this Dutch yoga branch of my creative work in particular, that I intended this business card to be.
Until I realized there was nothing to brand.
Not only did the thought of choosing colors for my business card feel too permanent, because I would then also be committing to the colors or style of a yoga website, Facebook page and so on;
I also realized that this, branding my Dutch yoga work, was exactly what I never wanted to do again in my life.
That we’re just a bunch of hobbits doing yoga with their laptops or in their local community center, but that if it’s something a New York studio would do; It was definitely not for us.
I realized that the biggest mistake I had made during my first yoga career, was thinking that real life in-person classes answered to marketing rules.
They answer to: “Who teaches in the neighborhood where I live?” and if you re competing on price, that neighborhood can be broadened;
And if you ask a higher price, you re in all likeliness not going to serve a city-wide niche as you might have hoped for; But the same people who want to do yoga in their neighborhood, and don’t mind paying more.
And I realized somewhere in the past few years, that was absolutely, totally cool!
I did my studio audience a disservice, by insufficiently attending to what mattered to them most, and what are the hallmarks of a local studio. Which are predictability and reliability.
It should have been managed like a bakery, not like Coca-Cola.
And I realized that even more when I was undecisive about my business cards, because duh! Of course I no longer need those, any more than a bakery needs them.
And like I said: That is the charm of it.
That’s why it is lovely to do that work of teaching yoga locally. It’s the work of the heart, and will definitely be looking forward to the day when the dust has settled and it becomes possible for me again to think about building a new, real life, yoga community again.
However, there was also another aspect of my work in Dutch. And I may have created yet another persona which conflicts directly with my desire to be viewed as an easy going, lovable hobbit;
Because I wrote my first political piece on my main website under my real name.
It was like a 2 year pandemic wrap up of being a side-lined yoga teacher, who honestly thought she had no desire of ever being viewed as a yoga teacher again;
Only to feel the stir of excitement when her former yoga colleagues protested against the Covid regulations.
And them being ruthlessly criticized, and cancelled even, for having different thoughts on vaccinations, the great reset, their immune system.
All things I do not have any thoughts worth mentioning on!
But yet: their activism had moved me.
For the first time, I had felt akin. They had not been a compliantly cooperating bunch. Our government and the Dutch had to come with something better to convince them closing yoga studios and having mandatory vaccinations before entering, was something that benefitted public health.
They had not just rolled over and waited for the storm to pass: They had stood up.
Providing the first time I had actually started identifying with my peers, and feeling regret for not being one, now that the tides had changed and the gloves had come off.
My people, the yoga teachers that stood up, were like Minas Tirith, the city that had lacked formal ruling and had been under hereditary stewardship for centuries.
The current steward had hostile, estranged ways, but the people in the city had understood he was a marginal problem.
That him being there was a sign of deeper, more disturbing things lurking beneath the surface. Or at one legion’s distance from the city walls.
And they had been right.
It would be in front of Minas Tirith’s gates where the final battle for Middle Earth took place. It was its courtyard of stone, where the tree came back to life. It was there, where the new king would be crowned.
In the two pandemic years, and by means of those yoga teachers protesting and holding different views, I saw that politics runs through my veins.
There is more to this hobbit than meets the eye.
I just went back onto Canva, with great clarity of who I was, and what I wanted to create. And I succeeded. My business card does mention I am a yoga teacher, but it is embedded in a broader theme of a writer analyzing, thinking, and understanding the grander scope.
I will always be a hobbit, appreciating the simple life. And I will stay true to my craft of teaching easy-going accessible yoga locally and nationally.
But I can’t breathe here…. I need to get out, as soon as class ends.
My main pieces, under my real name, in Dutch, and what I have on my Dutch business cards, needs to have the kind of weight that brings corrupt stewards and dark lords to their knees.
It needs to be the things empires are built on.
An unexamined life is not worth living
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