I am grateful for Flanders Fields. Tonight I went for a walk with my best friend Jolien and what started off to be a little stroll in the park behind our backyard, turned out to be walk for about an hour through the beautiful Fields that surround our neighborhoods. We had great conversations about forgiveness, relationships – especially long distance ones – and our future. Just two best friends enjoying time together against a gorgeous setting. I was so glad I had brought my camera, because nature decided to give us one of their best shows, as if we were being treated as a thank you for us spending time just wandering through those glorious Fields. We decided we are both lucky to have grown up where we did and to have been surrounded by all the beauty and joy of our environment. And every time I get to be at home for a while, those Flanders Fields just feel like a gift. One I will treasure forever, deep in my young smiling heart. And even though me experiencing those wonderful Flanders Fields have no obvious connection with World War One, there is just no way to disconnect it from each other. So with this I would like to bring tribute, yet again, to this beautiful contribution of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae:
- In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
- We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
- Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
I am grateful for Clouds and all the breathtaking formations they create. I sometimes feel like it’s a never ending ever changing work of art. In the morning you see them float in from the mountains colored by the rising sun in tints of soft pink, orange, yellow or just pure white. During the day they sporadically appear in clumps or perfectly designed shapes or they simply hoover together creating a tapestry of future condensation. From the darkest purple, blue, grey or almost even black to the clearest snowy unpolluted fresh white. In the evening a unique, unmatched, extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime live spectacle of colors and movements. Some may say that Clouds forewarn us, that they are a sign of the unavoidable rain and therefore should be disdained. I say I just enjoy the moment. I stop and watch the Clouds, knowing that this particular moment is a gift unseen and unheard of, knowing that now and only now I will be able to marvel at its beauty. Nature keeps amazing me and I am so grateful for its swiftly and perfectly composed brushstrokes of Clouds against those eternal black and blue skies.
I am grateful The xx. They are an English Indie Pop band consisting of a group of talented young men. So far they only released their debut album entitled “xx” and I think it such an amazing record. The guys also produced the album themselves and it is very impressive to hear the sound they created. Just like ‘Passive Me . Aggressive You’ by The Naked And Famous, it is one of those albums that completely blows me away. To me it is one of those concept albums in the sense that the entire album just fits perfectly together. There is no other possible way this album could’ve been constructed but the way it is now. I find myself playing it regularly, not realizing I put it on once again. The music just feels good, it feels right. It’s exactly that kind of music I enjoy most. I feel like it helps me find my balance and I feel how it naturally connects with my inner me. So thank you very much to The xx for creating such a wonderful work of art. I am so grateful to be able to play “xx” over and over and over again.
I am grateful for ‘Hartst’. It is the first short film I wrote and directed with my friend Winne Henckens. We created this movie as part of an art project, entitled ‘Versteende Verhalen’ (Roughly translated: ‘Stony Stories’). It is something I am very proud of. The result turned out great and I actually enjoy watching it again. In case you are wondering, there is not supposed to be any sound, because any song you play while watching it changes the feeling of it entirely. So we wanted to leave it up to the spectator to choose their own soundtrack and consequently their own meaning of the story. I am grateful I got to work on this project, because it taught me so much. I had performed in several short films before, but this was the first time I was on the other side. The writing process was so much fun and the recording process was outright exciting. I would love to create more art in the future and in the meantime I remain grateful for everything I have created so far. Thank you to all of those that helped me out along the way.
I am grateful for Sade. After writing about Ozark Henry, my favorite male artist, it is only fair to honor my favorite female artist as well. Sade Adu, the lead singer of the group Sade and obviously the person the band is named after, has everything I look for in an artist. She has always been part of the entire production process of her music, contributing to the writing, arranging and producing of their – in the meantime already – six studio albums. What makes their music so strong is not only the sweet jazzy-R&B-soul-soft rock style of the musical part, but also the amazing lyrics. Sade actually writes almost all of the band’s lyrics herself. Some of them are poems on music. And as if all of that wouldn’t be enough already, the icing on the cake is her heavenly voice bringing this wonderful work of art to life. Her voice is just sublime, with a richness in color and timbre that often grabs me by the throat and takes me on an emotional roller coaster only to keep me dangling somewhere between extreme bliss and the utmost anguish. Saying that I sometimes become emotional while listening to some of their music would clearly be an understatement. Thank you, Sade, for al you’ve given of yourself to this world. You really are a Soldier of Love and your music is the sweetest of weapons. When I listen to Sade’s music, I know that Leo Tolstoy stated it perfectly, when he observed that:
Music is the shorthand of emotion.
I am grateful for the Palacio de Bellas Artes located in downtown Mexico City. It is a gorgeous piece of architecture. And the inside is just as beautiful as the outside. Not only the interior, but also what actually happens inside is breathtaking. The Palacio de Bellas Artes is called ‘The Cathedral of Art in Mexico’, as it is the biggest cultural center, not only of Mexico City, but the entire country. It has been the scene of some of the most notable events in music, dance, theatre, opera and literature and has hosted important exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography. I always feel so great just walking by and I think I’ve taken a picture every time I did, so it was about time to put one online. It’s nothing new that I am grateful for art and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I am happy for a center that celebrates art. I am very happy to have such a wonderful gift in the world filled with art and beauty.
I am grateful for the color Green. It is my second favorite color or my first one in the case that people don’t accept my favorite color – which is black – as an actual color. I love all shades of green and I love how it can be so natural or so artificial. Green is all around us in nature: trees, grass, plants, vegetables, fruit,… and I love nature in all its forms. The flora and fauna. And green just happens to be ubiquitous in nature. Oh how I love green. It is relaxing, elegant, soothing or sometimes unbearably bright when used in a chemically industrialized way. There is so much you can see in it. I chose this painting by Joseph Marioni as an example. His painting is simply called ‘Green Painting’. And even though you might say it is simply a green painting in front of you, there are so many layers to discover, there is so much to see. You could just have a green sheet of paper, a print out without any depth. But this painting. It’s actually painted, which reveals all the layers of paint and all the work that has been put into it. I’m sure some people don’t see much in paintings like this and might find it too modernistic to their liking, but I think it is art in it’s purest form. Now, let me end with this quote by my idol Oscar Wilde:
To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.