So I almost got divorced the other day. Let me explain. Me and my best buddy Paul were in this tattoo shop in Brussels (because that's how we roll/get down/boogie/out our secret gay love triangle/start our career as Dutch national soccer players/ah hell, I guess you know what I'm going for here/because I don't really/are you still with me/I was going for… oh, right, because that's how we roll/or whatever rockstars say these days/I haven't watched MTV Cribs in ages so you just have to imagine that I am saying something cool here, with a # or something) and there was this female tattoo artist there (her customer almost ran away after he saw me fall over (it's ok, the freshly tattoo'd arm took the impact and that already hurt so it was kind of efficient), she ran after him screaming "That doesn't happen to all our customers! He just has a deadly disease!", and she got him back so I can tell the next part) who was tattooing a customer that almost ran away and then we noticed just as Paul was trying not to scream (it is amazing, our guy was so soft and sweet and small but the moment he got a needle into your flesh he was super super intense (and you try not screaming when a tattoo guy gets intense)) that she had a portrait of Tom Waits tattoo'd on her arm (we even asked "is that him?" and she said "of course, who else?") and I of course had no choice but to propose to her but I am married and I am just realizing that Iris reads this as well, so. So, we went to Brussels and got inked together and it was cool.
I got my first tattoo about, I think, 15 years ago. At the time, I knew only one other person who had one; my sister. The question I heard most was: "Why did you get one?" Now the first question is: "What does it mean?", and if your answer isn't philosophical enough, beware. Gone are the days where you could wake up with a hangover and an odd itch on your chest, and discover a bird or anchor there, permanently (this neary extinct cultural idiosynchracy was nicely paid homage to in the cult classic "The Hangover"). So my latest tattoo has four parts, honouring the evolution of public opinion in the western world over the past century or so (I just made that up, but it's actually quite fitting). One part was conceived years ago, marking both a milestone of sorts in my development as a zen buddhist as well as a unique artefact of the friendship between Paul and me, as well as being a joke that is understood by very few and found funny only by me. One part was conceived months ago, and narcistically is about one of the greatest compliments I received, which I want to keep reminding myself of as I think I'll need what it stands for. One part was thought up on the spot and the prettiest part was made up on the spot.
Maria has kindly agreed to write a guest blog about the second part, the compliment, which is the rest of this post. I would give her a proper introduction, but this paragraph took me an hour to write already, and I'm about to throw this eyegaze thing out of the window, so Maria, the floor is yours:
A “thank you” rather than a farewell
It was almost 4 months after the first time I met Garmt. After several “milestones” had been reached within the ALS initiatives running in the company, he wanted to organize a get-together dinner to thank all of the people that worked with him in his effort to kick ALS in the balls. It was also a bit before little Zoe would come to life, so it was a good occasion to spend some time with the whole team, before he would take some time off to focus on his most valuable team, his family. And so, his favorite restaurant in Utrecht got reserved for the whole night, we (the “company team”) arrived around dinner time and the wine started coming
What Garmt didn’t know beforehand, however, was that we also wanted to prepare something for him and, as the Dutch saying goes, put him in the spotlight (still not quite sure that he didn’t know, though – this guy seems to know everything going on around his teams). The plan was to make a piece of art on-the-spot for him. The idea was that each of us had a word or expression in mind that best describes Garmt. Our task was to *somehow* describe all these thoughts on a paper/artistic way and put them all together in a mobile that Garmt could take with him. Keep in mind that we are talking about business people that were asked to create art, and you can get a picture of how the “describing” part went; colors all over the place, glue around tables, and engineers wondering what is the best way to glue a candle on a horizontal position (true story, don’t ask). But, behind all of these improvisation efforts, there was something that all art in the world could not express clearly enough, and this were the concepts that people came up with to describe Garmt.
So this is why you are reading this post right now. When Garmt asked me to make this blog post for him, it was because he wanted to make sure he can remember all these words that people said about him and the meaning behind them. So I will be as analytic as possible about describing the word that I used, even though I know that generally he would insist that it’s best to say things in short points.
The word that I think of when I think of Garmt is the Greek word “θάρρος” (thárros). It is not easy to translate it in just one term, you could say it means “courage”. But it also includes a number of other things, such as guts, bravery, ardour, dignity and -possibly- a bit of arrogance as well (in a good way J). I was lucky enough to work with Garmt as my first manager in my first job, and these are all the things that he taught me and the reasons why I look up to him. He is fearless to cope with all difficult situations and he never gives up, needless to say. But he also inspires others to “go for” things and see life in the same way; it sounds like a simple deal but, if you think about it, it’s not.
You could see all these attributes of Garmt reflecting on his “team”, the people that were there for dinner at Utrecht that night. Garmt was the one who wanted to say “thank you” for our support, but I think -eventually- it was a “thank you” from all of us to him, for all the inspiration he gives us. Garmt also supported back each one of us individually through this course of time and, probably, he was not even aware of that.
What I will keep from this event is that it was meaningful and it was fun. It was a sober way to say thank you for simply being there. The “piece-of-art” may have not been the prettiest thing in the world but it is clear evidence of how one man’s courage can touch so many different people’s lives and the reasons why we will always be thankful to him.
As a closure, when we say in Greece that someone has “tharros” it means quite something. If you search for the description on the Greek wikipedia, “tharros” translates as “the strength that someone has so that he can cope with dangerous situations, either without fear or by winning over this fear”. And I believe that this is what Garmt always does.
Maria – Garmt’s team member J
The first letter of Tharros