Growing on apart – together

 

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I don’t like cats. But because my friend likes cats and pink, this picture was taken. 

 

‘Growing on’ is not really a well known expression. When thinking of the title Iwas doubting between growing up and moving on. Yet, growing up has a lot of connotation to childhood, and though my argument for today has as well, I thought it to be too narrow of an expression. In another way, moving on sounded quite loaded to me- often when we are talking about moving on, we talk about moving beyond something negative. What I want to talk about today is about growing beyond something, and for that reason I choose the words growing on. This brings be to the second part of the title apart- together. Recently I connected with several ‘old friends’ from different parts of my life. For an afternoon or even a weekend I connected to people I do not connect to on a daily basis. We, in a way grew apart- no longer in the same classes or school, towns and cities have seperate places where we grow. Yet, all stuck in time we moved on, developing ourselves along the way.

 

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Photographs are like old friends- you forget what happens but regognise yourself again. 

 

It always marveles me how little we change. To say it with the great words of the poets of coldplay ‘We Never Change, Do We?’. At the same time, we do grow on. In their video about ‘old friends‘ The School of Life suggest that even though we might not truly be friends with our old friends any more, or wouldn’t be again, we can still benefit of our contact with them because they remind us about previous versions of ourselves. Although intresting and relatable, I found the last few encounters with old friends, and one in the years before much more valuable and hopeful. Moving on and developing our intrests, skills and experiences I now had more in common with these people than before. It strikes me as truly marvelous that despite not having spend time with people that much, the reasons of connection turn out to be more eleborate than previously expected. Appearantly we intuitively connect to like-minded people, so that when we grow although we are apart, we grow towards the same direction.

 

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Stuff are like old friends- although you lose and add some, move to a new house, they stay familiar. 

 

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This road is my life. – The way home

DSC01459When we talk about roads in our life we often talk about the decisions we made, the paths we have chosen in our convictions, relationships or careers. ‘Road’ or ‘Path’ are two short words that as metaphors can easily describe the complexity of our lives. These words suggest a direction, movement, a restricted area where we move along that is surrounded by things that are not the road itself, but rather the things we discover alongside our path. At the same time, the word road and path can mean something very specific: a particular road or path, or ‘our road’ compromised of many different paths along the journey. Even though the words path and roads are wonderful metaphors, today I want to talk about a more practical side of these words.

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Throughout different stages of my life, I have walked many roads and paths, and not just the metaphorical ones. The path to my elementary school, ‘the chestnut lane’, my road to the bus and the bus ride to my high school. The different road to a different bus stop when we moved house. From that time on I remember for the first time describing a certain journey as ‘this is my life’. Being a child from a broken home ‘a.k.a. cycling from one part of town to the other with lots of stuff’ I felt that these moments on my bike from one house to another were a practical and metaphorical image of what my life was like. Yet not only the way from my moms to my dad’s house and the other way around, but as well the usual route with our dog felt like ‘my life’. I thought of how sharing this particular walk, a line on a map would be a very intimate activity- sharing a road where I had so many different thoughts.

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As life moved on, I have as well moved houses, no longer in a small town but a big city, the roads have changed, but the concept has not. Every place where I move I have journeys that I take every day. Small pilgrimages from home to work, home to school, home to a church. No matter how often I take these roads, every time they evoke something similar and new to me. I find myself thinking of a certain song when I pass a certain part of my way to high school because I listened to it often there. Or I think of a conversation I had. It is curious how physical roads can bring your mind to things that you would not think of when you wouldn’t be there. The same stories, the same words drift in my mind.

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Truth be told I still walk most of these roads alone, like a pilgrimage I might meet people on the way, and we might walk together, yet I do not truly share my path. The feeling that has been build up from the walking the same path over and over again cannot be transferred by walking the road together once. One of my philosophy teachers once told about Heidegger’s concept that language was like the home in which we live. A powerful and beautiful metaphor,  I think. I would like to suggest something else: Our life is the road that we take.

 

The Bigger Pictures- Lost in the details

 

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Lost- one of my favorite lyrics incorporating the word ‘lost’ is from Newton Faulkners ‘Lullaby’, From his first album of which he made a 45 minutes video where he plays all the songs in his house- lullaby is the last one. The lyrics tell ‘If you’re not lost, I guess that makes you found. The last few weeks with shortening days and no clear goals I must say I felt a little lost.  At a point, I actually watched part of the first episode of lost- because I did not know what to do with myself. This week is a first of very structured weeks- work early in the morning- afternoon and evening off- though I must say these evenings are easily filled.

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Today, however, I do not feel lost- inspired by a roommate who spends her last days before work starts again with improving the house, I finally also executed some of my plans. cleaning out my room and throwing out things makes it possible once again to see some order in the chaos. I even re-arranged some of my work on the wall, and to keep this blog visually interesting I took some photos.

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Everything might still seem a little bit chaotic, but lots of things, including me, are no longer lost. I guess that makes me found.

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Taking care of kids as tool for becoming an adult

I haven’t written on this blog for a long time- somehow through everything, I thought about writing but did not actually do any of it. However, as I asked a friend who wanted to write some years ago if he was writing he said- if thinking is writing, then yes. Interestingly enough being a weird kind of extrovert who thinks while talking, for me, I have been writing, not even in thoughts but in conversations. Conversations with like-minded and different people, people from my age, older and younger much younger.

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Abandoned kids stuff makes for great compostions 🙂

These days I spend my morning babysitting some wonderful kids. It is so interesting to see the parallels between grown-ups and children, and how your role as a person changes when you are the designated adult. Spending my time with the kids both makes me feel younger and more grown up, which is an interesting dynamic. As the designated adult I monitor and coach the children- and at the same time, I think of games or lego constructions more playful than some of the kids. Oh, the joy.

Today the constant ‘I understand, but these are the rules’ and ‘lets now do this because this is what we need to do’, seeped into my unorganized grown-up life. I found myself in the first hour of being home talking to myself as I do to the kids- exhausted as I was -I’d rather just not do anything, but I nudged myself in the right direction like I would the kids.  ‘I understand, but lets just now put everything in the washing machine, and then later in a bit, you can have some tea, and some sweets’, but first, do your chores. Perhaps, after a few months of making sure the kids do and don’t do the right and wrong things, I might even find myself being  a mature grown up 🙂 🙂 .

You should do Death well.

It is always a little strange to credit or quote yourself. To claim something as your own idea or philosophy. I will do it now though. One of my ideas and philosophies in life is “that you should do death well”.

 

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A colleague took a photo of the Flag on the West Tower

 

Yesterday morning it became clear that the mayor of Amsterdam had passed away. We had known that he’d been sick for months, and he also recently announced he abdicated. The death was no surprise. Yesterday morning I learned the news because a friend posted: ‘An Amsterdammer has passed away’. The rest of the day was quite emotional, even though I didn’t really know a lot about the man, it was touching to see, every hour that I would climb up the tower where I work that more flags where hanging half post, acknowledging the loss. Soon people would come into the tower almost angry demanding to know why we did not have a flag yet. And soon there was someone to indeed put a flag on the tower. What does one do when someone passes away? With public figures like our mayor, loved like our mayor, the memories are recounted. The documentaries shown again, the friends interviewed, and I, who knew little of the men except for his name, and his illness, investigated. It is strange how when celebrities die you all the sudden get to know them more than you did when they are alive. Honestly, since it is such a tradition to show an elaborate documentary on television when someone passes away I once wrongly assumed that a person in a documentary had died.

Going trough the material to be found online about this man it is almost strange to think he has passed. Getting to know the things he did and said, and being so insprired by them, gives more a feeling of making a new friend than saying goodbye. In my personal life, with different losses, I have also experienced this, although different as well. Death for me causes a clear vision on the life of the one who has passed. And, how I loved them. Death, as final as it is has taken another persons life, and at the same time, I feel, I should do death well. There is no better moment than death to say to life: “You know what, let’s just look for a second what you brought us”. The emotional rollercoaster, however unexpected, is something I unapoligatically step into. Life might have a tendency to get in the way, but death breaks open the road, to truly look at what it means to be alive. Doing death well means taking all time for all what’s going on- the love, the despereration, the crying.  the writing. The watching, the looking and the thankfulness for life- the hope that the life and the vitality of this person brings beyond death. The strange solemness of grief.

The being set back and eyes opened and filled with tears, a heart with a crack so the lights comes through. There is not such a thing as no grief- and with grief I mean any emotion inspired by death and loss- there is only post-phoned grief. One of the things i greatly apriciate in life is being emotionally sabotaged, lack of sleep, for instance, sometimes helps me connect to feelings that i could otherwise not reach. Death is the ultimate emotional sabotage- the very essence of life unhinged- you might as well take advantage of it. You might as well do death well.

The being set back and eyes opened and filled with tears, a heart with a crack so the light comes through. There is not such a thing as no grief- and with grief, I mean any emotion inspired by death and loss, there is only postponed grief. One of the things I greatly appreciate in life is being emotionally sabotaged, lack of sleep, for instance, sometimes helps me connect to feelings that I could otherwise not reach. Death is the ultimate emotional sabotage- the very essence of life unhinged- you might as well take advantage of it. You might as well do death well.

Beyond Imagination.

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Every once in a while, a day is so full of inexplicable wonderous moments, that you have to stand still record it, so you can save it for later.  a little bit of sunshine for a later day. The wondrous moment when you find yourself trying to climb out of your room over strangers stuff and have a dear fictional character lend you the hand to climb into your house that you agreed could be confiscated by strangers for a day. The moment that you stand next to a stranger, both locking your bike, feeling strangely connected though there is no conversation and never will be…

The moment a colleague guesses wildly and guesses right about who was in your house that day-  The moment that you realise that the ultimate safe and scary childhood figure, men with white beard and red dress is looking at you- silently. Seeing and hearing someone you have been listening to for ten years, realising it is all you love (shout out to Newton Faulkner :)). The empowering feeling of going somewhere alone.

Being cut off from wifi which allows you to do in an hour what you haven’t been able to do for more than a week. The moment you are reminiscing and travelling on auto-pilot realising you are somewhere you haven’t been before, not entirely sure how you got there. the moment you find a note on your laptop, realising a guy that you kind of liked went into your bedroom, and wrote his number name and that he will probably be back next week. the moment you write your reality as were it fiction, realising how deliciously creepy some of the statements sound.

Now. Time for bed. Off you go!

Writing something intelligent

I have written about writing a lot on this blog. I’ve been exploring why I write, why I think it matters, and what I write and how what others write helps me. One of the reasons I write is to document some of my feelings. Sometimes these feelings do not last, solely the products of the feelings in the forms of poems or rants on paper. However, when these things re-occur, I can go back to my writing to understand how I felt about something, and perhaps how that changed. Growing up in a strong Christian tradition we quickly learned how people often remember only the good things about a previous situation if something goes bad. The Israelites when in the desert after being freed from Egyptian slavery reacted to a lack of meat with the words: oh but in Egypt at least we had meat, forgetting that they also had masters that knew no mercy. Similarly, I am always critical about my own recollection of events: was it as good as I remember? Or was it a bit more nuanced than that? Was it much better?

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‘U Voelt Zo Dicht Weg’- ‘You Feel So Close Away’

Reading back helps me understand sometimes, but first, it has to be written. Sometimes, struggling with what to think of feel about a certain event I long to write ‘something intelligent’ about the matter. Hoping that words will help me understand something that feels quite uncertain. In fact, this is also how I pray sometimes. I hope that somehow I could address some meaningful words to God, to connect when I feel disconnected. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it does not. And so to improve my meditation on the words I could address to God, I decided to sew a prayer. I started embroidering with my sewing machine again a few days ago and after some trials, i thought of combining the meditation of sewing and praying. I started to sew: God, U bent hier, maar u voelt zo- (meaning god, you are here but you feel so- ), I  wanted to continue to sew  ‘ver weg’ (meaning ‘Far away’) however, wandering in my mind I started to write Dicht ‘(meaning: close’). To be honest to my first intention I decided to compromise: I finished with ‘weg’. resulting in : ‘U voelt zo dicht weg’- ‘You feel so close away’. It is not correct dutch or English and a word play between far away and close by, yet this felt like something very intelligent to write. It is beautiful and also helped me to understand how I was feeling these past days- not necessarily about God but about some things around me. These things felt ‘away’ but at the same time to close to let go. To remember what I wrote, I restitched the last part of my prayer: ‘U voelt zo dicht weg’. I pinned it to the wall to remember that something letting go of thoughts and accidentally straying can give beautiful insights.

 

how words help

I think it is time to write again, nonfiction, non-poetry. Thoughts. I was stumbling around today and I tried to figure a subject, and I thought of something yet I forgot. I just moved houses and this always entails a process of settling and finding my way around the house, even more so when it is a surprise move, and work and social obligations make it difficult to focus. I think that aside from ‘love’ home is one of the most common theme or word in the songs that I know. Moving house always makes me rethink home. Jon Foreman puts it beautifully ‘Ooh I’m going home but I don’t know if home is a place,  I can still get to by train’. In a way, in this digital age my digital little world, my computer, my facebook, my email and my blog are just as much my ‘home’ as the other stuff I collected throughout the years. At the same time, there are many proverbs about home, for instance ‘home is where the heart is’ referring to the people important in your life. I would say I would like home to be the place where my heart is safe. Whether it is safe because of the fact that the people I live with are kind, or because the walls of the house keep intrusion of strangers at bay. Hanging out with self-proclaimed introverts, I have found my own introversion in the last few years. Perhaps, all who meet me would be sure I am extroverted- I talk a lot, to friends and strangers no different. In fact, I sometimes get my self into trouble for being so outspoken. At the same time, I spend most of my time alone and after a day full of people I need some time to recover. To settle down and hear my own thoughts again.

The title of this post is ‘how words help’ I have found that although it is sometimes difficult to talk to others about how you feel, whether it is because they do not understand or because you don’t have the energy or the space to connect to other people, words of others can help. If only to prove that you are not the only one who thinks this way. In fact that is what I love about the whole ‘social media’ thing, instead of hearing only a few voices, all voices can be heard or found, which in itself to me proves the point every time that everyone’s opinion is valuable, even if half the time wish I would just shut up, or at least hope that everyone forgets I said anything.

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Vermin, mess, and teddy bears

How did I now find me here

In this world of ever growing

People coming to our yard

 

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crash and bike

 

 

Bike rides from my home to work

And back again

And I remember when

I did just start cycling down the street

Holding the handle bars so tightly

Still falling down having the biggest scab I ever had

Right there on my elbow, and the joy of it.

And the joy of it.

The freedom that I found

Let me find it once again.