Closing in 5

My work is done. For the last time “closing in 5”. Working for 3 months I have left the camp. In the beginning I took into account a possible extension, but that is not going to happen. Working at the camp, I can go on for a few months. But living in Athens gives me this weight on my shoulders like the globe on the shoulders of Atlas. When this murmur, sounds, cars and smell remains in my head, I cannot process my impressions. Previous experiences show that I can’t do whithout a place quiet and peace. Like this image taken in Norway is to be pictured as how my mind needs to be.

Has me being at the camp met the refugee’s needs? And to what extent has it done something to me as a person? Through w(h)at(s)apps with Anke I have already taken an advance on my self-reflection. We have figured out that my perception of myself and how I think and feel about different things, appears to be subject to change. Have I grown as a person? that remains to be seen. Have I become a Rob 2.0? no, I rather think of an intermediate release 1.8.8.

I have had some more in-depth conversations with a few refugees. It is also not surprising that these men participate in the men’s discussion group. My contact with them will probably echo a bit after my departure. I  gave two of them some possibilities or opportunity’s with which they can move some steps forward in their lives. I do this in a way that is characteristic to me, I tell them what works or can work for me. So it is not advice although some of them would like to hear what they should or could do.

No longer I am connected to the ELEA project. So what goes to these men now is on a personal note because I care. I hope they get out of this terrible waiting, and take more control over their next steps. I like to believe that I have actually been able to help them with something.

In the last few weeks I have shared several times the story of my life with a number of volunteers. Trying to create the context to get to the answer their question, what brings you here to the camp. Those young volunteers are intrigued by the fact that I started a 10-year journey of living and working abroad. It is nice to see that it is felt like an inspiring story. It even led to spontaneous hugs. Heidi, when saying goodbye “Ohh so your are the hugging type” and Ben literally asked, “may I hug you”

With the formal farewell during the week meeting, some staff members have shed a few tears. They have done their best to describe my presence at the camp and to give it meaning to the volunteers. Their summary about me is tranquility, overview, doing and inspiration. Of course I had my word ready too. I have shared my life philosophy;

I live every day as if it is my first

After closing, several volunteers came who wanted to know how to follow me. They were surprised that I don’t do social media. I have offered them this weblog and my e-mail address. Looking back, I believe that I have been able to make a significant contribution to the young adults. Both refugees and volunteers. Maybe a bit of the father feeling.

My stay here in Athens has opened another world besides the refugee camp. Not those of myths and legends but of Artists! Visual artists, performing artists, painters, hobbyists, dancers, writers and thus artistic people. As I experience this artistic world, it is not only exhibiting their creations but also exposing them themselves. Everyone I have met is quite busy with expressing and exposing way more than I do. The hugging between them is very much there and everyone seems to know everyone.

Networking is apparently also a part of their DNA. Addressing as many people as possible at the same time. Also they are making full use of social media, internet and all other conceivable means. I have witnessed and experienced this world full of wonder. I felt a bit like Alice in wonderland.

Did my physical condition stayed in tune during my stay? Well it has remained in excellent condition. A quick calculation tells me that I have walked around 1000 km. For a person who sees 60 coming closer and closer, it’s alright.

You do have a soft skin, how come you are so energetic, how do you mean old, you look like a soldier, you always walk. Enough remarks that points out that I am doing ok.

I also lost some weight and size these months. Ok, I’m not a young god, but to be in a world of myths and legends, I feel a bit like an old god 🙂

Last week, I realize I missed the loved ones left behind. I have been in contact with Andrea (my daughter) and she did not feel well. During our chat came the realization that almost 3000 km is a great distance. It’s a big miss that I can’t get in the car to get to her and care. Yeah I certainly left a piece of life behind.

Arises the thought of missing the people here in Athens and at the camp? I care about the refugees. But despite a few personal contacts, it’s all pretty anonymous. I think missing comes with Secure, safety, comfort and rhythm. And I could not grow it here in such a short time. I have only been a “caregiver” . It feels like a disappointment in myself.

The two years at feels so much different. I regularly think of these young people and miss them.

Me leaving this place goes together with revelations about myself and others. So I listened to revelations by Carlos Santana. It shows me the moments that I have been experiencing these past months about myself and things that I have not seen or understood before.