The End.

It's something personal.

It’s almost 4 am, 1st of december. It has been a while since I’ve written something. Not sure if I’m still good or even decent at it, I guess I’m about to find out. I’m listening to some Gorki, a pretty respectable Belgian band. The lead singer died this weekend. A man who we all expected to live forever, didn’t. The end.

14 year old son

Luc De Vos was his name. He wasn’t perfect, as far as I know. Some rock ‘n roll left and right probably took a bit too much out of the otherwise very gentle papa bear. But despite some flaws he was a pretty popular fella. He wrote a couple of very melancholic songs which had “campfire” written all over them. If, at some point in your life, you were staring at one of those, chances are extremely high some guy was playing “Mia” on his slightly out of tune guitar. He will be missed, but we’ll always have his songs, his performances, his legacy. We’ll manage with what he left behind and move on.

Sadly enough, his oeuvre wasn’t the only thing he left behind… A wife and a son, the latter turning 14 the day his father passed away. They lost the same guy, same writer of songs, same bringer of joy, but also a husband and father. The main character is roughly the same, yet the story that they’ve experienced is far different and richer than ours. And while the ending of our book left a big impression on most of us, it is nothing compared to the ending they have to deal with. My thoughts are with them.

15 year old manga

I know, we’re off to a pretty depressing start. This wasn’t my initial opener mind you. But as I was finishing up, I couldn’t help thinking about it. Talking about beginnings and endings means that there are also bits in the middle where stuff randomly happens. I wish that stuff was a tad more lighthearted… but alas. Now I want to talk about a different ending. An ending of a story that had a direct impact on NINDO itself.
The story began roughly 15 years ago, when a young mangaka Masashi Kishimoto started Naruto, a manga about an orphan ninja kid who was cursed with the power of a giant demon fox. I first discovered the animated series and then the manga. At the time I was about 16 and it had ninja’s in it, so obviously I was hooked immediately. I will not go into great detail on what exactly it’s about, but here’s a very short summary:

Basically Naruto grew up in a ninja village where pretty much everyone hated him because of the demon fox sealed inside of him. That fox almost killed the entire village one day and the only way to stop it, was to seal it into a baby. Which happened to be Naruto, the son of the village leader at the time. Both his mother and father where killed by the fox so he was a very lonely kid. But he was also a very stubborn kid. He always swore he would someday become the village leader and have everyone acknowledge him. That was his way of the ninja. OR, as the manga describes it, his nindo. Since that moment, “nindo” was a term that would always linger in my head.

“I WILL NEVER GIVE UP.
THAT’S MY NINDO, MY NINJA WAY.”

As the years went by the internet became sort of a big deal and everyone started to take on “online identities”. I myself was starting a blog. It was a little playground where I would go and do whatever the hell I wanted. Most of my talents are flawed in some way, but I always had a knack for entertaining people with idiocy. And when the moment came where I had to decide on a domain name, I guess it was pretty obvious what it would be called. And behold, the first NINDO was born.

While the first iteration of NINDO is long gone, it’s successor is now complete. In a sense, this NINDO is pretty similar to the first one. It is still a platform, an expandable comfort zone in which I can build, destroy and rebuild whatever I want. Only now it’s also serving as an online portfolio, displaying the works of my sister and me. Every once and a while we make something we’re particularly proud of (be it for someone else or ourselves) and now we have a neat little cabinet to put it in. Mind you, alot will go down on our Facebook page also, but to avoid clutter we will keep the fancy stuff in here and the casual nonsense on the socialist medium. That’s roughly the plan, we’ll see how it turns out.

And how’s Naruto doing in the meanwhile? Well, it was kind of a funny coincidence because after a whopping 15 years the manga ended a couple of weeks ago, about the same time this NINDO was finished. 700 chapters of ninja battles, friendships, loss, grief, hope… reached conclusion while my new project came to life. I won’t tell you how Naruto’s adventure turned out, but I will tell you it was quite the ride. It had its ups and downs storywise, grew out of it, had to go back into it, was a real hassle sometimes. But all in all, I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it.

1 day old adventure

And that’s pretty much my goal here. For me to enjoy creating, for you to enjoy my creations. I was given the chance in life to do what I want to do, so I goddamn better grab it with both hands. And I know it will end someday, everything does eventually. It’s inevitable. But when it does, I want to be able to look back and think: “There I was, with some kind of vague talent, did the most I could with it and people acknowledged it.” It’s pretty much what anyone wants in life: Be good at something and get credit for it, which then turns into a little something called “happiness”. You can be a skilled mechanic, a life saving doctor, a great mother, a valuable friend or a respectable ninja village leader… doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you get the most out of it and have people around you that appreciate the things you put your everything into.

And I know, this post is getting really mellow and heavy. I mean I started with death and grievance, then turned to a ninja kid who will never give up and now just talked about our quest for acknowledgement. Where are my balls, right? But it’s important to me, and for you to fully understand NINDO. And I completely accept that not all of you will like, agree on, or even respect the things I say, do, will say or will do. And that’s fine. I’m fully aware that, when all is said and done and I look back onto something I’m really proud of, there will be people who’ll be like: “… WHAT THE HELL IS THIS BULLSHIT!?”

As we both read the NINDO book, my story won’t be the same as yours. And the ending I will have experienced won’t be the same as the one you’ll have. There is a chance you’ll see this as nothing more than just some “film & photo thingy”, while I will fondly remember the lovely moments, the hard times, the great achievements… that I experienced while making the “film & photo thingies”. Or perhaps you will remember a few good songs from my discography and one or two funny jokes, while I will look back at it like a 14 year old kid who had to say goodbye to his father, but will ultimately be very thankful that he had such an awesome dad and so many fond memories of him. And after the melancholy fades away, we move on, on to something new. Because we have to, it’s our nindo. I heard Kishimoto is starting a new manga next summer, so that’s a thing to look forward to.

“WHAT THE HELL
IS THIS BULLSHIT!?”

One last thing I want to underline and… well as a matter of fact I actually did underline it, are the “people around you”. Who are also known as “family & friends”. You know, just those two most important groups of people in your life. I want to take the time to thank a few people. They all have something in common: They attributed to the person who I am today and I would be a lesser man if they weren’t around.

  • My parents: Obviously. They put me on the world and kept me safe when I was little and weak. Then continued to keep me safe when I was big and stupid. They never told me what to do and while I’ve made some dumb mistakes, they’ve let me learn from them on my own. At the same time they were and are always there when needed. Textbook parents.
    At the end of the year my old man is going to retire from his police job. Years of fighting crime, day and night, combined with raising four kids together with my mom (also day and night) take its toll. And that’s not even taking into account the cancer that he beat a couple of years ago. So saying he deserved his retirement is an understatement. And behind every strong man is an even stronger woman they say. Well, “they” are correct.

  • My siblings: Not going to spend much time thanking my brother and two sisters, because… you know… I’m the oldest and they’re still my little brother and sisters so I’ve got to keep my cool or I will lose my reign and authority over them. Johannes, Jasmijn or Marlies, if you’re reading this: Shut up.

  • Yves, Gov (and your wives), Leslie, Jensie, Saey & Benji: My boys and I go back as far as kindergarten and every now and then I have the feeling we haven’t grown up at all since then. We are a bunch of really big kids (some of them already have really little kids on their own) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re all about playing games and geeking out over movies and whatnot. They are the best friends a big manchild like myself could ever wish for. Stay golden.

  • Tim, Joris & Gilles: My shready buddies. Oh what good memories I have with these idiots. We’re nothing alike, and when we are a man or two short, we are more than often lost. But combine all four of us and there’s nothing we can’t do. I’ve spend the best 4 months of my life together with them and even though we’re all going our separate ways now, somehow I feel that sooner or later we will once again combine forces and bring the ruckus… or almost. A special thank you goes to Tim and Gilles, because they made the acquisition of the nindo.com domain possible.

  • Mieke: Mieke and I got to know eachother on the radio while I was driving around newspapers and she needed someone who could call in the headlines around midnight. Later we met again when my local bakery was closed and I happened to step into hers during the period she worked there. I just had to meet her I guess, and so very glad I did. She was a very special person in my life when I started to work on this site a year and a half ago and is still my number one supporter. Even though things have ended (through no fault of her own), we know by now that endings aren’t necessarily a bad thing. She was and still is a crucial part of my life, be it in a slightly different role. I have the utmost respect for this lady. She never had an easy life and yet she always manages to find the positive, always taking on the next challenge head on. She was there when I started this, when I had doubts, needed advice on grown-up stuff or a stern talking-to… always. She is as strong as they come and everyone should have a friend like her.

And then there’s Dennis, Pieter, Eva, Evy, Filip, Rippe, Soetkin, Luca, Rik, Susan, Tim, Elise, Sara, Line, Jolien… and many, many others… If you read this, you know who you are and what you mean or have meant to me. If you don’t, let me know and I’ll remind you.

By now it’s already 8 am in the morning and my can of Monster Energy is empty, so I’m running on fumes. My sister is already up, on the verge of running late for work. I realise this is a very open post, but I will never force anyone to read it nor like it. I will however do whatever I feel like. And I deliberately made it somewhat heavy on the personal stuff because I know myself all too well. If I go lightly over this thing I created, I will take it lightly. If I’m serious about it however… I will have no other option but to take it seriously. Because the last thing I want to do is make a fool out of myself. Unintentionally, mind you. I will at some point make a fool out of myself intentionally. That, you can count on.

Now after all this you probably still wonder what it is exactly I’m going to do here. Well, if I had the answer… Nah, I still wouldn’t tell you. You’ll just have to find out. Just enjoy the ride and when it’s all said and done, we’ll look back on a thing or two I made and we’ll try to figure out what it is I have done exactly.

Looking forward to the end already,

 

Sander
CEO of NINDO