Song Story 13 – A new voice, now silenced: Amy Winehouse

It must have been the summer of 2004. I was getting the hang of my relatively new job, driving to clients and between their offices. Implementing software, but also: listening to the radio in the car. And that’s where I heard her first: Amy Winehouse. A wonderful new artist, super music. That summer, I saw her live. In a hall in the Hague, where I had seen many other artists (US3, for example), passed an exam, worked and debated politics during the Model United Nations. A building with personal history. She was one of the many fantastic artists on the North Sea Jazz Festival, when it was still held in the place where it belongs: The Hague. And in that summer, in that room in the Congress Centre, Ms Winehouse became intertwined with my personal history. Today, at age 27, she passed away. A troubled lady, but when capable, a fantastic artist. I hope you’ve fought your demons and can find peace now.

Music starts around 2 minutes in.

Tussen Goor en Riga

(In honor of the 40th wedding anniversary of my parents today, in Dutch)

Tussen Goor en Riga,
1800 kilometers en 40 jaar.
Ontelbaar veel mensen
die bleven of weer zijn gegaan.

Een gezin dat al bestond
en groeide met de jaren:
aanhang, kind, kleinkinderen
en soms vloog er een uit.

Tussen Goor en Riga
liggen Den Haag en Voorburg.
Maar ook Amsterdam en Leiden,
Wassenaar, New York, Parijs.

Maar de reis is nog niet voorbij.
Nog veel te zien en te doen,
jaren nog te gaan.

Tussen Goor en Riga,
Liggen jaren van smaragd
(of is het nu robijn?).
Hoe dan ook voor nu:

Karma, or the contagion of kindness?

Yesterday I realised that I believe in Karma as it is generally interpreted in Western cultures. At least, in some sort of way I believe in the future results of actions of today. Our neighbors had an incident in which health issues were involved, an somehow they came to us for assistance. We called the ambulance for them, and, together with another neighbor we drove with them to the hospital. Our other neighbor actually did a lot more than I did. I was just the driver and giving a sort of moral support as far as I could.

The thing is, while waiting outside the hospital, I realised how comfortable I would feel to get the same sort of support if something similar were to happen to me. Our neighbors (all involved in this story) are not from this country. They have no obvious support systems like you would have when you live in a place where you have lived a long time. No family, no relatives, no long-time friends close by. A situation that is not unlike ours. Being human, and relatively young, I sort of feel invincible. Not really, but something happening healthwise is just not something you regularly think about as a real possibility of happening tomorrow. Living ‘abroad’ also means leaving your normal support system. And the events of yesterday evening made me realise that in that situation, any little bit of help you receive can make you feel just a little bit safer and, well, supported.

To come back to the Karma thing, I believe that actions can have results. In Dutch we have a saying that is quite close to that: she who does good, will meet good. For me it’s not the same mechanics as Karma, though. Mine are a bit simpler. I think that setting the example of treating your neighbors the way you want to be treated has a contagion factor. Small acts of kindness that will have their effect on others. In such a way that when you are in a moment of need yourself, the kindness might have spread so far that you will get it back.

Anyway, it seemed in the end that our neighbor was not critically ill. And I hope he does well, now.