Today I took my bike, rode to the beach and had a quick walk. It was one of these spur-of-a-moment things: the sun was shining, the sky clear, just a bit of wind, Dutch autumn as beautiful as you can get. Even the North Sea was blue. (An Italian friend of mine once stated that the North Sea was no proper sea, not being blue but mostly brownish, quite an unfair statement, I felt today.)
There were not many people around, it being a normal workday and not much of a tourist season either. A few mothers with small children walked around, I saw a few couples and some happy dog owners who claimed the beach again with their pets on this 1st of October (from May to September dogs are banned from most of the beach areas… everyone can guess why…).
I thought, yes, this is my beach again. And suddenly I felt a huge wave of gratitude. Gratitude for this life I am living here, this happy, sheltered life with a family I love, in a beautiful surrounding.
Maybe it is because of all the hard news I am reading every day. You hear about the refugees, about conflicts and chaos in so many countries. We are truly privileged to live here (and with here, I do not only mean the Netherlands, I mean Western Europe, or maybe even all “safe parts of the world”, wherever they may be). It is not as if I earned this in any way. I just had the unbelievable luck of being born in the right part of the world at the right time, being born into a loving family that could afford raising me, giving me all the chances I needed.
It would sound arrogant if I said I try to live up to this lucky start. Because I could never reach that goal. But – especially on days like this – I try to keep the thankfulness in mind and just do what I can to give a little bit back.