Soundbyte 298: Familiar Conversations


On the last day of Pentecost, with a lot more alcohol in my veins than on an average Monday night, I try to capture my thoughts. It’s a lot harder these past months which won’t come as a surprise for those who know me a bit better. Ever since I’ve gotten back from Tallahassee I find it hard to get my bearings again. There are the usual suspects like getting back into the Dutch way of life, the Dutch cuisine (yay for our grocery stores), living in my old Dutch home again, and my overly blunt countrymen and women. Then there is also the slow realization what it means to have left behind the new friends I made in Florida. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more involved than to just board a plane for a long weekend if you want to say hi, so we have to resort to Skype and the like. Sure, it’s better than say 10 years ago: ‘Nowadays’ you can have an actual conversation online where you can see and hear each other, but it just isn’t the same as in real life.

But the real challenge for me is to get a grip on what I’m actually going to do now that I am back. I remember the stern lady at the American consulate asking me if I could get back to my old job in The Netherlands once my visa has ended. This has always been the case and I am glad to say I am back on ‘the old job’ but it just isn’t the same. Luminis has changed in the past year. The Netherlands is different and I, of course, have changed too. Not in a bad way, just not exactly as I remembered from before. I haven’t found my (new) place yet. (also, my age might have something do with it, but I refuse to acknowledge these cliches)

And then this week, suddenly our renewed strategy document landed on my doorstep. Instead of giving me the last push to really throw me off balance I tried to catch it and use it like a floatation device. Trying to hold on for dear life, hoping I could use it as a beacon to help me make sense of it all. Like the lighthouse metaphor, getting a brief insight in the lay of the land and re-establish the markers on the horizon. It’s too early to tell if I will succeed (mis)using our strategy document. I haven’t been able to really understand all its meaning and underlying messages yet, but the one thing I already found helpful is its title.

Since I’ve gotten back I have been talking to a lot of people. Mostly friends and colleagues. Yes, those were all ‘forms of familiar conversation’, and yes, mostly because the topics and the people were in some fashion familiar to me. But those talks proved to be very useful for me and the lighthouse metaphor aptly describes the overall feeling I had at the end. You can learn so much about yourself, others and the world around you if you have a genuine conversation with someone you thought you knew well. So a message to all those who can’t make heads or tails of our new strategy document: Go have a beer with a colleague and talk about it. Far more insightful and a lot more fun than just reading the text and trying to decipher its meaning just by yourself.

Speaking of fun. I hope the next part will be enjoyable, but I’m actually a bit anxious. I just had my, ‘I play keyboard’ coming out for most of my colleagues at our 15th-year-anniversary party. Now I feel I’m about to have my ‘I really love this type of music’ coming out. The two are related since I first heard about my now favorite artist during one of the keyboard lessons I had when I was just a teenager. The classroom had a picture of a guy named Chick Corea which in its own sparked my curiosity. That, and the fact that his hands were large enough to cover almost two perfect octaves on the keys.

It took me while to really appreciate his music. Just like proper scotch, these things take time. And a couple of years later, I went to North Sea Jazz for the very first time to go see him with his Electric Band. Chick Corea, Dave Weckl, Eric Marienthal and Frank Gambale all on one stage! (Sorry, Jeroen, I think John Patitucci couldn’t make it that day) Especially the chemistry between Corea and Weckl is something you can’t describe and just have to hear and see. I accidentally stumbled on a recording of that very same concert I attended almost 15 years ago and I’ll gladly share it here with you. It’s almost an hour so take your time and don’t panic if you hate it. Like I said, these things take time 😉