A Sponsor’s Story


Hans van de Louw participated as a sponsor in our crowdfunding campaign ‘100 meters of wisdom’ and wrote the story below. Thank you for your sponsorship Hans and your beautiful entry

Why sponsor 100 meters of wisdom?
As strange as it may sound from this place, but I am writing this text from the train. Comfortably from first class, that is, on my journey from Copenhagen back home to Nijmegen. I often look out of the window and see various landscapes passing by me. I travel along water and along land, I pass cities and villages and I meet birds of paradise and meet people who seem to live purely according to the issues of everyday life.

The etymological meaning of the word pilgrim has its origins in Latin.  There a pilgrim is called peregrinus, a word composed of per (through, over, beyond) and ager (field). So a pilgrim is someone who travels through or beyond the fields. Often alone and very occasionally to believe Boudewijn de Groot accompanied by “two rabbits with a funnel on their heads.”  

I peer outside again and see countless fields pass me by. Am I also on a pilgrimage now? Can I also call myself a pilgrim during this almost half-hour train ride? From a purely linguistic point of view, I meet the definition set out above. Purely intuitively, however, I would like to answer this question in the negative.

For example, there is that enormous speed at which I now pull myself through those same fields. A train goes, in most cases, many times faster than a human can walk. This must do something to people, just like the opposite. If it is true that the more you focus on something, the more you will see more; What about the opposite? The longer I look outside now, the more restless I seem to become. It’s going fast, too fast,  to be able to take in all the impressions. How different is that when you walk outside past the same field of farmer Janssen? Not in an amply 5-second span, but half an hour or more. I distinguish the horses from the foals, hear the flow of a stream and smell the scents of the blossoms in the trees. Experiencing nature at its best. You are here and not somewhere else.  Between me and nature there is no artificial thing in which I am currently placing myself. Get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The famous French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau has spent his life walking in the beautiful nature of Switzerland and France. In addition, he has written down his musings and published them in his latest book ‘Musings of a lonely walker’. In one of the passages, he writes that “as soon as I have escaped from ‘that band of wicked people’ and find myself under the trees, in the midst of the greenery, I imagine myself in the earthly paradise and feel an inner joy as if I were the happiest person in the world.”     

Anyone who regularly goes for a walk will recognize a feeling like the one above. As you slowly move your body and feet, you start to think, doubt, ask questions, and finally organize your thoughts. The storm in the head is channeled into concrete, workable ideas and views.  Organizing your thoughts while walking is not new. The list of wandering philosophers is therefore long. Immanuel Kant is known to have taken a walk through his hometown of Köningsberg at the same time every day, after his lunch. In fact, he was so punctual that the story goes that he only skipped this walk for 1 day in his later life. Because that day he had received the new work ‘Emile’ by  that other walker Rousseau and could not put it down.

Wise people, full of wisdom. And now for the walk of wisdom. Wisdom, a big word, but what does it mean to me? And above all, how does it coincide with this beautiful walking tour through the beautiful Rijk van Nijmegen? This one word, “wisdom,” immediately reminds me of the well-known expression of “having a monopoly on wisdom.” Leased, so  in your possession, but not in your possession. You have a monopoly on it and you have it temporarily in use by someone, something else or just maybe even by  higher powers.
Perhaps, in the words of Frank Westerman, I have been an infidel pilgrim all my life. But what is the pilgrim looking for?

Happiness, love, wisdom?  These questions crept up on me during my adventurous hikes through Nepal, on Kilimanjaro and in Patagonia. But not only far from home, these life questions and their possible answers also rush through my head when I wander through the woods around the Duivelsberg, climb the hills of Groesbeek or meander over the dikes along the Maas and Waal.  A hundred meters of wise walking, I wholeheartedly sponsor it. After all, a sponsor supports an initiative, reaps the benefits of it occasionally, but she will never pretend to have the exclusive right to the property. Wisdom belongs to and for all of us.

Under the golden sky, in the silver sun
Always plays the concert band in a large rain barrel
There he travels over the hills and through the big forest
The procession into the mountains of the circus Hieronymus Bosch for good
And we talk and we sing and we all laugh
Because there behind the high mountains lies the land of Maas and Waal.


Johannes M.P.M. van de Louw


With a tenner you can make 100 meters of the Walk of Wisdom possible. Will you join us?