The birth of new things


Musical instrument: anything is possible within the limits of imagination.

It is no surprise that I don’t like academics very much. One of the most typical things that should definitely be said about it is that I don’t like it very much because for me it doesn’t come naturally. Curiosity comes natural, excitement about other peoples ideas comes natural, and connecting these ideas is life-giving. Writing them down in such a way that is acceptable, not so much.

One of the main struggles I have with academia or ‘science’ in general is that rarely anything new happens. This is of course due to the inherent structure that we have decided we should follow: Anything can only exist if it is proven, or rather if it already exists. You see, it does not matter how much experience has taught you, if someone hasn’t said the same thing you are thinking before, it is not valid. If you say something and someone else said it first and you don’t credit them, it is plagiarism. The only time that you can say ‘something new’ is if you somehow got the credentials to back up your claim. Not the facts, just the credentials will suffice. What you end up with, in many niches, that there are one or two primary authors, and that de rest of ‘us’ all basically write what they have written, often without even fact-checking, since someone said it before, therefore I can credit them, therefore it is viable, thereforeI’mm a credible academic. And so the cycle continues. The theory of academics is nice: “Don’t shout something that you can’t back up or cant have someone else agree on”, but often it results in a toxic environment where it is incredible to make any progress, because 90% of your time is spend backing up your own ideas by those of others, instead of really grounding your own ideas.

Like I said, I do love ideas, insights, and theories, life-giving things. I happen to have many very intelligent, observing and curious and insightful people in my life. And honestly, I just want to celebrate that. I don’t know how to give these people a stage yet, but there is so much academic, self-help, philosophical and motivational bullshit out there, that I’m longing for a place where so many different voices can be heard. Not only those who have credentials, or basically a big mouth, but people who inspire you to do life differently, or understand life better. I’m not much of ‘challenger’ in that sense, I’ll just leave my thoughts and then you can be challenged by them or not, but I would challenge you to think of the last time you were inspired by something somebody said. Not online, but in real life. Something where you thought: I have never looked at it this way, but this gives me tools, perspective, life. Who are the great thinkers around you? Who would you want to give a stage?


Pain, give yourself a name.

Pain, give yourself a name
Call yourself contrition
Avarice of blame
Giving isn’t easy
Neither is the rain – Daisy- Switchfoot

I thought it was such a beautiful thing to say. To say to pain to give itself a name. Sometimes when I write about something, think about something or hear someone’s story, I can only name it pain. But what if the pain has a name? Like loneliness, losing or home. I love how brené brown ‘reverse engineers’ pain. According to her, we are a world in pain, not because we experience this pain, but because we have so many practices in place that numb what we feel- addiction, consumption, distraction, dehumanization. Perhaps, if we can name our pain, we can be more loving towards what is hurt and heal.




Some of the things I found in the boxes with my childhood stuff.

One of my favorite movies is Boxtrolls. It is a magical stop-motion original story that aside from completely brilliant costumes has a truly heartwarming message. Everyone should totally go and watch the movie, and also all the documentaries about how it was made. One of the beautiful moments in the film is when Boxtroll eggs is confronted by human girl Winnie that he doesn’t look much like a Boxtroll. Boxtroll eggs is offended and goes on to explain that actually, he is simply having some rare decease and speech-impairment that makes him look and sound like a boy. The scene is truly beautiful and an example of how other peoples views on our way of living can kind of shake our foundations. Not because they say completely new things, but because they formulate the things that are in the back of our minds clearly, and not so subtlely.



The magic of bad taste.


That brings me to the second reason why this post is called boxes. A while ago I was explaining someone how starting something new, and feeling comfortable doing it always kind of messes me up. And at some point, he said: “You know, the way you explain it just sounds that you have so many boxes to fit in everything you feel and experience- but maybe you should just- let it be.”(hope I paraphrase correctly). But it was quite a correct observation of what was going on. When I am insecure about something, or overwhelmed, or just stressed I make it my mission to file these feelings and happenings under some kind of label. These labels range from ‘this is ok’ or ‘this is not ok’ to ‘this is normal’ and ‘this is just part of life’ and ‘you can do this but not that’ and ‘things you can better not want’. It is rather energy consuming, but it seems easier than to just let everything happen and feel things without crystallization. These lables aren’t even things to better understand myself, but rather rules I impose unto myself, or that I use trying to make sure the new experience fits in with my pre-existing idea about what the world is, what it should be and what is impossible.


These days I try to pray for things I don’t believe are possible. Not because I want or need I miracles necessaryy, or because I feel that my faith is not enough, but because I believe I can learn so much about myself by experiencing the things I thought could not happen. The things I do or don’t believe are what make up the boxes I get so stuck in. And that brings me to the third reference in the title ‘Hokjes vakjes’ – ‘spaces, boxes’- although ‘spaces and boxes’ sounds way more spacious than ‘hokjes vakjes’ does in dutch. ‘Hokjes vakjes’ is the start of a refrain in an Elly & Rikkert song prevalent in my childhood: ‘Hokjes vakjes, we stoppen iedereen in hokjes vakjes, als ze anders zijn dan wij’. The song, with different relatable ‘case studies’ illustrates how we are often eager to reduce something to a box, a space, or blokjes, plakjes – cubes and slices. We cut things into pieces in order to reduce them to something we have power over. Something bite size things that we can swallow hole.

These days I hope to not be so eager to cut all my experiences into bite size portions that help me to swallow it, but rather I hope to honor these things, to look at them, to taste it, and to share this meals with the ones around me.


Lent: giving up damning.


the magic of little things when you open your eyes.

It’s been eight days since Ash-Wednesday, the first day of Lent. This is the first day of the 40 day period before Easter in which people traditionally vast from something.  Now I was brought up very protestant so even though we had Wednesday evening services for the day of prayer (start of the farming season) and the day of thanks (end of the farming season), we had no Ash-Wednesday. However, I think two years ago I went to an Anglican church and I got myself a black cross on my forehead in honor of the start of Lent. I must say to me seemed both ridiculous and quite special and brave especially because it was so ridiculous, the black cross on your forehead, there for all to see. This year once again I wanted to go to an Ash-Wednesday service, but the friend I wanted to go with wanted to do something else, I decided to go to Mezrab, and I ended up telling a story. And so “my lent’ was off on a rocky start, or so it seemed.

Since I was still aware of lent- and it was all over the place because it just started, I thought about doing some kind of fasting myself. But honestly. All the things that were on the list were things I really enjoy doing and wasn’t God a God of joy too? I mostly also wasn’t really sure what to do with all the time gained by swearing off facebook, movies, food, and who knows what. And then I remembered what a friend of mine said during Ramadan: there is no use in fasting if you don’t pray. And as a horrible child of God  I was not really sure ifIi would enjoy ‘spending more time with God’ asIi always forget that spending time with God doesn’t have to be so boring.

Somewhere I heard that lent was also a time of introspection and I figured: at last something I’m good at and enjoy. And as I move on from Ash-Wednesday I noticed how often I curse things I find scary and challenging. Basically, I throw around the g’d dmnt.  And for some reason, I figured, that although I didn’t really want to spend time praying, I could change the prayers I involuntarily say anyways. What if instead of asking God to damn something, I would ask him to bless it. And considering the idea I realized how the cursing was not only a habit, but also was actually focusing on things that I found hard, difficult, irritating, and scary, all the things where the intervention of God seemed needed because I felt uncomfortable. But what if I asked God to not take away the things that I found uncomfortable but rather I would ask him to bless it, to let it be and let it be good. What if I would every time I got frustrated and cursed reminds myself that God uses all things for good, and makes all things new?

And so a little over a week in, I feel like the resolution already opened my eyes to how I see the world. And how much could be gained if all things were blessed instead of cursed? And the thing is, I don’t stop cursing. I basically use the cursing to identify the frustration that I then ask a blessing for. Who knows though. Maybe, in the end, I’ll respond to challenge with an open mind and prayer for a blessing instead of anger frustration and a curse. It already for me has changed something, and who knows how well it will go, I have 32 days more to practice.


Trauma worth writing about

And as we stood outside looking at each other with a

‘what the hell just happened’ face I said: this is going to be

a ‘great’ story. And she said. yeah. You might really

need to write this one out of your system.

And although being fearful of a scared cat that acts

seriously violent -is a tellable story, most of them aren’t

and even when the story is funny, the feelings you felt

when it happened are not. How do stories work

when talking, telling and writing about things seems impossible?


the dark lines seem like the ones in our minds, but the silver lining however small gives hope.



Re-reading Jonah


Blurryness of where we are sometimes

In my ‘line of work’ or at least my academic discipline, when there is a question, a mystery, you will just keep on looking what is there but maybe hidden in an object, and at the same time you gather different sources that might help you understand what you see, as well as you mentally and physically  reconstruct what is now only traces of history. This morning, although the academic mystery that I am currently researching is not yet solved, I have another mystery begging for some answer. As with any kind of research I formulated a question that might not get me to the ‘right’ answer but will help me on my way- this question prompted because I was in a strange space of mind and time. The question was: God, how can it be that telling one story, is such a big deal? Obviously I considered other reasons than the storytelling for my current state of strangeness- lack of sleep- time of the month- time of the year- spring leaves me breathless rather than restless… but these were all factors that were both beyond my control ánd in my bones- since I cannot get rid of my bones that easily, and do not control the time of year, another more answerable question came to mind to direct the research: What was that one story that I told?

Soon, I realized there were multiple layers to what I had told- easily enough I figured I actually told 2 stories,  my version of the book of Jonah, and my view of the book in a form of a poem. I decided to go to the book of Jonah to see what it was about, to actually understand why this story and telling it might have touched me.  It is interesting when you tell a story by heart, how much you change- telling the story of Jonah, I kept the main things, the boat, the storm, the fish, Nineveh, de tree, and Gods answer. Yet some details, not in the least because I forgot them, I did not explore, while other aspects that are hardly mentioned in the book I elaborated on because  I could make jokes about them, or because they seemed to make the story more interesting.

In between the formulation of the research question and the reading of the story in one of the many bibles that are in our house I was reading up on the ‘8’ on the Enneagram- the ‘boss’ type that  controls situations or people because he or she does not like to be controlled- and of whom one of the main expressions and emotions are anger and frustration. Reading the story side by side with the Enneagram I saw that Jonah had quite some ‘eightness’ about him. He did not enjoy to be told by God what to do so he made his own plan to hide, to control the situation, but at the same time, he knows when it’s time to stop- and lets himself get thrown overboard. what happens next is that he goes on to Nineveh, and Nineveh repents.  One of the things I love the most and in a way lies in line with my view of the 8 type character is when Jonah gets upset with Gods decision to save Nineveh- and he says to God: Well… no surprise here.. you know what, I knew that this would happen when I was still in my country, that was why I fled on the boat because Iknow that you have pity, and mercy and you are patient and rich in love and you are always prone to regret the doom you have placed over someone.  And then, because Jonah is a bit of a drama queen he says: you can take away my breath because right now, I love death more than life. It is marvelous to see how upset Jonah gets because of seeing God being loving and kind and merciful and seeing him come back on his promise of doom. But this actually makes sense when you look at Jonah with the eight number on the enneagram- love, kindness, mercy is all weakness that the eight tries to avoid. God’s reaction to Jonah’s anger and his disapproval of his goodness is precious: ‘Is there really a reason to be so upset?’  we get no answer from Jonah, but interestingly enough he does take his time to stick around and watch what will happen to the city. And this is when God uses Jonah’s passion ‘against him’ or rather to broaden his horizon. He gives Jonah a tree to be in the shade and to calm him down a bit- yet in the night the tree dies and being on the east side of the city the sun rises and Jonah soon finds out that he lost his precious tree. Just as well there is a terrible wind that makes Jonah so depressed he once again longs to die. And he tells god: I now love death more than life. God asks once again: Do you really think there is a reason to be so angry about this tree? and Jonah answer is simple and passionate: Yes, I have all reason to be unreasonably angry about losing this tree. God now has Jonah where he needs him to be to listen- filled with his passion and acceptance of the anger over the loss of a simple tree- but God calls it something else than anger. He says- ‘you are caring deeply for that tree‘ I wonder what the look on Jonah’s face and the feeling in his heart were, seeing his anger for what it was- not just selfish anger but the sadness of the loss of something beautiful. That anger was actually a very vulnerable emotion. Now having jonah know that caring deeply about something can completely mess you up to the point of wanting to die, he continues his  awnser: so you felt that storngly about a tree, that you did not plant, that you did not take care of, a tree that bloomed and died in the night – would I then not, care deeply about this gigantic cityof nineve wher there are so many poeple more than thousands and thousands, people that don’t even know the difference between left and right, and all the animals?

The book stops here and I think that is good, I think after that day Jonah was a broken man. Not because God saved the city, but because realized that he was not so different than the God he so despised for being weak, and he himself is just a man had no way of feeling secure in power as the almighty might have. In my poem about Jonah I find myself an even more cowardliness man than Jonah- where Jonah still had the passion to run from a God he thought to be too merciful, I would have gone with that God, but always on a distance- would I be broken down and moved beyond the point of turning back at the answer God had for the angry Jonah? In a way reading the story of Jonah did was different than the way I told the story a few days ago, yet it helps me to understand and accept where I am now. What the story of Jonah taught me today is that it is not a terrible thing to be overtaken by emotions and to let things play out, angry or not- this is where God talks, and speaks, and shows himself, in the mirror.


To tell a story

So I wonder and wobble


All the layers I stare through- or rather stare too.

around the edges in writing

and making while people

tell stories.


And I over observe and

measure the worth of

what I find slowly and slowly


A person can only share themselves

so many times, but can he share

a story with anyone? whose

are the rules and what are the parameters

of what is here and not?


And beauty is there but seekers

are too and I wonder what I am

an observer slowly meddling

and perhaps unwillingly sharing

who I am.


But if I am the fly on the wall

the eyes in the back, the words

written down. perhaps

I could be even more silent

invisible and observant

only when knowing what it is

I see and experience,

I can judge the real for the fast

and easy. Long story short-

I’m still in the middle, exploring

and carefully hoarding impressions

words eyes and expressions

collecting and sorting

making my own of a new home.

If want it to be, If I want it to be

I have to figure out who is me,

In here. In others, what bothers

what can and cannot but also what

I want to be, share, hope, believe

feel, exist.