Posted by Jeroen de Wal on

“As a stood there, on the highest point I could find,
battling the storm and downpour,
all that was left to be understood,
was my own realization of nothingness”.

In some Eastern philosophies, the concept of “nothingness” is characterized by an egoless state of being in which one fully realizes one’s own small part in the cosmos.

Early November, I found myself on the remote island of Sørværet of the Fleinvær archipelago in Northern Norway.
A small yet overwhelming architectural project called The Arctic Hideaway.
Taking a moment to get away from it all, in what has been a very hectic year with Store Du Nord.

Being grateful for the success, growth and applaud we have with our humble, curated space, it does come with a price.
The continuous push forward to keep making everything work, to keep inspiring, to keep finances afloat, to keep smiling.
It is not easy, and not the obvious or natural process it sometimes might look like.

2023 was a year in which I took more risk. More investment. More necessary choices.
I always try to be calculated about this but one can never know how reality kicks back.
Taking risks in collection buying, driven by euphoria over the exponential growth the past 2 years.
Taking risks because that’s what makes the heart beat faster, for better and worse.
Making moves to upgrade the entire concept, from remodelling the store to making a huge shift in buying styles simply because my gut tells me to.

And just when I thought I had it all under control, I didn’t.

Setbacks came, one after the other.
Trying to deal with it but some things are out of your control.
Perhaps even most things are out of your control.
We think we got it, but we really don’t.

I felt I was burning up.
Had to get away.

It was on that island, standing on the highest point while the storm was almost blowing me into the Norse Sea, that I understood nothingness.
The sea breaking on the cliffs. Wild and extreme. Relentless.
Tiny islands and reefs in what seemed an endless sea.

So what are we then?
So little. So insignificant. A small part in the cosmos. A bit of nothing.
So why do we worry so much?
About work. About life. About balance.

We stress so much, for ourselves and for others, yet we also have the power to create.
To move forward, as this small, tiny part in the cosmos. Our own little universe, where we can create what we want just by realizing how insignificant all of it is.
By opening our eyes to what really matters for ourselves.
To be able to create value for others.
Born from happiness, growing with care, care-free.

This realization and finding a sense of calm is what’s guiding me towards a better tomorrow.
For myself, for others, for my company.
Asking myself “when is it enough?” and “how can I be most happy in doing what I do?”, I understood my own questions while watching the waves smash.

I am nothing, therefor I am free.

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