IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR
Written in Dutch for the newspaper De Standaard - Column 'The Opinion' #5
It was raining and the sun was shining. I was driving to Brussels with a rainbow behind me. I didn’t see it at first; a while ago I pushed the rearview mirror up a bit, so as to force myself to sit up straight in order to see everything. I am sometimes weighed down a bit by things, forget to straighten my shoulders. I sometimes have difficulty climbing out of black holes. But as soon as I had done it, climbed out of the black hole from yesterday, there was a rainbow. That is to say, it was there even before I saw it of course. But straight shoulders and a head held high are not only important to see what’s ahead, but also what’s behind us. That’s what that rainbow just taught me.
For the first time we have given a name to a storm, the first autumn storm of this year. I doubt he will listen to it. But it’s good to name things. A name sometimes gives us the illusion that we have a grip on things. And that is a wonderful feeling.
In Germany it was commercialized, Frank Deboosere (Flemish weatherman) says. There you can name the weather. A depression (the low pressure system, not the mood disorder) costs 199 euros. A high pressure system is more expensive (299 euros), because it stays on the map longer. For those who were wondering: yes, that’s taxes not included.
It makes me laugh and at the same time I find it incredibly sad. I wonder who would want to give his name to a depression, and offer money for it. If we will be doing it in the future with the phenomena promised by the unavoidable climate crisis. Your name on a melting icecap? That’s 399 euros. You’ll enjoy it until it is melted completely and merges with the other floating names, while we huff and puff - buried under the global consequences - and keep finding temporary solutions to avoid remedying longterm causes.
Taxes not included. No, there’s no warranty for that.
I look online for color codes of storms and the search engine doesn’t get it; gives me COVID19 color codes and confusing measures. I smile and make it harder on him. I’ve been trying it for a few weeks now. I can only recommend this approach. If you don’t have the money to name things, but - like me - want to feel a sense of control over things, I advise you to enter some terms on Google that will never ever interest you. I want to overthrow and confuse the algorithm. I search for things I’ll never buy. Like depressions in Germany or professional climbing gear.
Consequentially, all websites I now visit will show me ads for umbrella’s or carabiners and chalk bags. But I have a raincoat and a life-long fear of heights. The chance that I will ever give in to the advertising is nonexistent. I have - or so it feels - regained a tiny bit of control.
I look back in my rearview mirror, with straightened shoulders, to what has moved me this week, the highs and lows. I am ready for the storm, and secretly glad that no one is out there giving names to rainbows.