Kees van Veluw

Column: Thinking

Mahatma Gandhi. I love that man. Such fantastic one-liners, full of deep wisdom and insight. This quote, for instance, caught my attention: ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’

This is the last Resource of the academic year and I’m growing desperate. Panic is enveloping my soul. Resource will be no more after tomorrow; what should I write about today? It is at times like this that the important becomes disentangled from the unimportant, the genuine from the false; that the essence of our Wageningen life reveals itself. What is our City of Life Science for? What is the Sower sowing in front of the Atlas building? Try explaining ‘One Wageningen’ in one word. Why are those pots there between Atlas and Orion? And that tree in front of the Forum? But then my brain cells spring into action with the same force as the evacuation alarm that propels you out of Radix, proposing a core concept after all: sustainability!

Learn as if you were to live forever.’ Thank you, Mahatma, for the second part of your quote. It calms me down: my adrenalin levels are falling again, my brain cells are at ease and my soul is slouched on the sofa. That second part promises a future. Sustainability. Eternity. WUR?

An old, wrinkled Ghanaian village chief once taught me that everything in life has a material dimension, a human dimension and a spiritual dimension. So that includes sustainability. Something for me to ponder during the holiday. It could all work out in the end. ‘A man often becomes what he thinks.’ Another Gandhi quote. Let me know your thoughts on the ‘three dimensions of sustainability’ and what you learn during the holidays. Enjoy!

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Mahatma Gandhi

*Kees van Veluw (57) teaches Permaculture and is active in organic agriculture networks. His vision stems from his work with African farmers, his networks with Dutch farmers, his family life with his wife, three sons, dog and chickens.

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