Sunday 10 November 2019

ALS: 'Rood stoplicht'

Red traffic light

For those who do not know this – Fokke Obbema was dead for a short while. Thanks to a 112 call, firemen appeared at his bedside who managed to restart his non-beating heart. He suffered no permanent damage. Fokke is a leading journalist on the Volkskrant and it seems only natural that he should write about it. He started a series of interviews about the meaning of life. It became a book. Now he gets invited to talk about that book. Since the 40 persons he interviews have highly diverging views about life and its meaning, all the meetings differ considerably. I went along to listen, not for the first time, though nice and close. He spoke a bit about his fascination for Job Koelewijn, an artist from Spakenburg who in his twentieth year broke his neck in a severe traffic accident. Against all expectations, he survived. He became a famous artist. To the question: What is the meaning of our life? he replied: ‘As long as you are still asking that question, you haven’t understood the meaning. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the ecstasy of being alive, without any reason whatsoever. That is, without you doing anything special or feeling in love. If you are touched by that ecstasy, the energy that it brings with it, even washing the dishes is a pleasure. Or a red traffic light – way out!’
I live five kilometres from the bookshop, I always take the road without traffic lights. So as to make up for this to Job Koelewijn, I silently wash the dishes the very same evening.

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