A Dutch saying: Like the host is, so he trusts his guests.
The beauty / art of hospitality has become very clear to me on the first day of couchsurfing. After the School of Life course I hitched to Antwerps for an in between stop before going to the sustainable living community. It was about 7pm and I had only just set up my couchsurfing account while hitchhiking. I sent out some random messages in the hopes a nice person would answer and accept me as their guest for a night. It was going to be difficult because having just created my account I had no references and having no CreditCard or PayPal I could not verify my account. I was, once again, completely at the mercy of the Universe… the niceness and trust of people.
The Universe, with the face of a really nice guy and an even cooler dog (his words not mine), let me know I was on the right path and could have faith, because within 5mins I had a response. I got on a bus and had my first couchsurfing experience.
The art of hospitality is one in which you do not adapt to the guest but you let the guest smoothly adapt to the situation of your home.
As a host you only make this adaptation as fluently and smoothly as possible. Making sure the guest feels she does not need to change her ways to feel comfortable and the host does not feel the need to change his ways either. This is what Tim understood very well –
A traveler knows what a traveler needs.
I entered the house and we quickly had a relaxing dinner in the back garden, which was terribly behind on maintenance according to his neighbours (Flemish standards are as high on order as they are on hygiene). We flowed into an interesting conversation about my journey, his experiences and mostly the possibility of sustainable change to living, eating and working styles within Western society. His view on this is both optimistic, as he sees people and systems are changing in a positive direction, and pessimistic, as only 2% of the people really give a d@mn. The rest of 98% of the people just continue living in exactly the same way and don’t care what happens to animals, nature and people as long as they can stuff their BBQ with meat. It angers, frustrates and sometimes procrastinates his efforts to make sustainable change in our own lives.
How deeply he cares didn’t just show in the way he talked about these topics. It also showed in the amazingly cool way he cares for his dog and the way they are together. Such a deep bond between animal and man can only come from continued effort from both sides. It was truly inspiring to watch.
He regrets not being able to do the work he loves and is good at (something in IT which requires continued involvement in the field otherwise you run behind and can’t catch up) for companies that work towards sustainable living instead of keeping the old status quo of more, more and more. For him, it’s not something to worry about too much when all the rest of your life is balanced and works well.
It is the choice we all need to make (with us I mean the 2%, which I hopefully think is more) if we want to keep the balance between normal and counter cultural living. He lives this balance very well and shines happiness and contentment in it. I am a big fan of his use of the Flemish language, which often makes me feel like the speaker is actually continuously making fun of himself and the world around him. Tim also loves Brigitte Kaandorp ‘ik heb zo een zwaar leven’, it is very much opposite to his mindset and explains a lot about his character.
I hope this writing has shown the reader a little bit about Tims Living Artwork and I am very grateful to have been to his exposition for a day.