Jo Goossens (1955-2020)

November 2020

It is with great regret and great sadness that we at shiftN have to announce the death of our friend and colleague Jo Goossens.

From our eulogy, 6 November 2021

"It has been a privilege to work with Jo. And I've said a lot with that simple sentence. Because in our collaboration we not only strive for societal relevance and professional excellence, but also for opening and experiencing a context in which each person can meet the other in all openness and vulnerability. Trust is the key word. Jo has always embodied that trust in the most exuberant way. In those fifteen years of intense cooperation there has never been any conflict or friction, no substantial disagreement. Only an uninterrupted experience of collegiality, generosity and humanity.  

What force animated Jo? A month ago he wrote us the following:

"The ascent is a beautiful motif - almost something sacred: beyond the purely human state. I have always interpreted it as excelling, fanning out, strengthening or transcending the normal, or even: beyond the imaginary. For me it is linked to the fact that every initiative involves a learning process in the sense of 'creating a path by walking it', which goes beyond what is logically foreseeable. Somehow for me, the awareness of this happening is also part of 'going with the flow'. Even yesterday and today, when I spoke with project partners and a potential new shiftN colleague, I experienced how things come about and happen simply by having this state of mind, namely the awareness that 'thinking something' also means 'doing something and being something'. 

Jo evokes here - in his very own, passionate way - a movement 'beyond the imaginable'. A movement of surrender from within a consciousness that we are shaping the world at every moment from our deepest intention. Can we thus begin to give the inexplicable a place in our lives? Jo indeed leaves us with life-sized questions, with questions that transcend life. Why? Why this impassioned human being? Why now? And also: could we have done more?  Those questions will never have an answer. They are all we have.  

We, his colleagues in shiftN, have jointly decided to accept the questions as a gift, as an invitation to look in our lives with even more gusto for what is good and true and what is really precious to us, and to lean forward from there into an unknown future. We think that in this way we can radiate the spirit of Jo - his exuberant, serving, noble, oh so beautiful spirit - into the world. This world needs it more than ever.

Photo on the left: Jo on the glaciers of the Karakoram, 2008