Arnaud van der Veere
Let me introduce myself. Arnaud van der Veere, born and partly raised in The Hague, Netherlands. Partly? Yes, most of my adult life is spend traveling. The world was my teacher, cultures my education and countries my guide.
Who am I? First and foremost a sportsman, second entrepreneur, third writer and fourth scientist. In this order, although it took me a long time to figure out what really has priority. My priority is a healthy life to do everything else I want to do. To be healthy you need an active lifestyle with strong conscious of good food, enough mental relaxation, and interesting topics to keep the mind working well.
My first business started in 1978 (a discotheque) and the first gym opened in the same year. I started in a “squat” (an empty building) which we rebuild to a complete self-sufficient community with art gallery, car-repair and hobby place, community housing and other activities. Cooperation with local action groups on environment, housing and (mental) healthcare did start there.
Muay Thai became my lifestyle at age 15 starting with two times training per day. Two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. Discipline is rooted in a constant awareness of the born in Asthma problems. No training implies loss of health and all other activities. This self-discipline drove me to daily training until today.
Training itself loses its value when there is no joy doing it. When you are young it is easy to set targets but when you pass the age of 50, these targets are gone, and sport or health activities loses attraction. To overcome these challenges, I had to set many different goals in life. Being superior to others, or a champion, never was one of them. My opponent was only inside myself.
Where most people seek external motivation for all what they want to reach in life I found that internal motivation is much stronger and more lasting in life. Personal motivation can be found in traveling the world, meeting people, learning from other cultures, writing, and experiencing life as it really is.
Soon I discovered that sport and trade are strongly connected. To perform well and enjoy it, you need good equipment. My first business was to get the right gear and supply this to the target groups. An international business was born.
To extend my customer group I had to teach them how to use the products, guide others on how to train new generations of customers and inform them on how and what to do. Gladly Rien Thouthenhoofd came around. We met at the editor meetings of the magazine Samurai where I was contributing writer of stories. He encouraged me to write the first Kick Boxing book (published 1984) in the Netherlands. After this book many other books and articles followed in different languages and countries.
My science career started in 1978 when moving from the HBO van Leeuwenhoek to the TH Delft (now University Delft) as intern to finish my education and start my study. This moved smoothly from one into the other and I got my confirmed appointment on the science department to study and work on thesis and student education. Combining study and work with daily training was not an easy task. Besides this I had to find ways to make money to pay for it all as the salary was not enough to cover expenses. A nearly 24/7 life should take its toll one day.
In 1983, at my final year of study and thesis writing, the crash was apparent in the confrontation with the new Rector. He refused me my sport accommodation inside the university building as he considered all boxing a low-class sport and all participants criminals. A head on collision could not be avoided. My thesis was used for other purposes and my bull send to my parents. Leaving me without a job. My resentment against institutionalism only grew through this event. But I was left with a good two years of monthly payment to buy me off. Later I did understand that he sold my thesis for a lot of money.
Losing the job and having enough to spend on a monthly basis made traveling easier and I went to China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong Kong and other places while writing my books and travel articles. As entrepreneur I did help travel agencies to get new customers, set out more exiting trails and went to discover places that were just opening up. The great China and the closed Vietnam showed me a new stage in their development of change. Through the years I have seen them change from virtually pure poverty to economic powers and reasonable to good living situation.
During the years 1983 till 1997 we travelled extensively and as often as possible carrying my children wherever it was possible. To me, traveling with my children, was the best time of my life. Living under a constant varying living condition was a direct challenge to survival and connect people stronger than living in comfort and luxury. My squatting experience has always brought me more positive energy. You do not need much to be happy. Often with more you are less happy.
In all the years of traveling I did continue my training. I spend many hours in all kinds of gyms, was confronted with teachers and trainers of different personality and did learn a lot of life lessons. One of the most important lessons was that people who consider themselves an expert are often the most ignorant and are closed for the opinion of others, no matter in sport or science. It made me cynical for change and improvement of earth and people.
One of my major interests in life is how we age. Can we age gracefully, healthy, and happy, or is life always a suffering? In my studies, which brought me a temporary appointment to Professor in China, I discovered that a personal influence in your own aging process is essential and crucial. Many people really can control the way how they get older. One of the main actors in this process is the personal discipline. What do you do with your life? How do you do it? What are you willing to give life to get something of benefit in return. In the part Age Control, I get back on this.
My resume contains a lot of events, diploma’s, important achievements books, articles, economic success and failures and travels. Having past the point of 60 I know that life is only about the moment, living and loving, experience and what you do with it. Positive thoughts can make you keep moving. But I did discover people who did live in hate, negative emotions that did consume them and still could live long lives. This all implies that we have to find our own way and not look at others in envy but to learn. Accept the difference and learn is one of my mottos. The other is that there is always a road ahead and looking back cannot change the past. This is our live and let we live in it with open-heart, wide-open eyes, accept what comes and goes, learn from every experience and people, breath the air of today and breath out tomorrow.
Live a life, love to do it and enjoy doing it. Share it with who ever comes around.