Monthly Archives: May 2016

Love and Happiness

  

The feeling of being connected is love. This connection means acting as an open source: receiving energy from around and at the same time returning this energy. Beaming with energy, you know. The way someone suddenly radiates. What fresh lovers look like or new born mothers and fathers. That’s the picture. 
Animals and children are more open to this ‘everything around them’ then grown ups. Children and animals are more connected to everything around them including nature and other beings. They rely upon and surrender to much easier then grown ups. It explains why children can also be easily scared. Monsters, insects or the neighbor’s dog; they haven’t (been able as yet) to construct a fence of defense around them. The more a human being has been able to built that fence, the more closed up he or she is, the lesser energy is felt (not energetic) and the lesser love is felt. Energy and love are two different expressions of the same thing. It explains why the more esoteric part of the population talks or sings about ‘love is all’. Everything is energy. And if energy and love are the same thing which I’m starting to find out it is, then everything indeed is love.
Why do human beings close up? Actually I shouldn’t ask this question and instead just concentrate on openings. But there’s a co-incidence that has to be considered. Pavlov researched how beings start reacting automatically upon specific input. Ring a bell and at the same time give food to a dog. Repeat this for some time. Now only ring the bell and water will drip from the dog’s mouth because of the assumption of food being served. The information has gone into the eldest parts of the brain, the lizzard brain. Bell and food come together. The availability of food has become part of the experience of hearing a bell ring. The parts that make one act as if on auto pilot enable you to drive a car while mending your kids in the back and at the same time contemplating upon the amazing deal you just saw advertised on a billboard along the road. The lizzard brain is educated by experience only. It’s way beyond reason.
When love is accompagnied by hurt repeatedly and then after some time you take the hurt away and bring exclusive love in, that very love will invoke a feeling of pain nevertheless.
I was being asked what love means to me. It’s a therapist’s trick to open up to positive experiences instead of lingering over negative ones. What does love signify to you? Freely associate, uttering all words that come to your mind. 
Okay, so it started out nicely: love is deep, love is bonding, love is happy. But then it deteriorated instantly. The words that came to my mind, I didn’t want to utter them. I felt love wasn’t meant to be like that: 
‘Love is hardship, love is steel, love is pain’
‘It’s okay. If that is love to you, just say it’ 
‘Sure?’ 
‘For some people love is challenging. For others it’s demanding’
That definetely is interesting but it doesn’t convince me of being or doing fine with my personal associations of hardship and sorrow. On the contrary: I am baffled! I realize the first few honey sweet ‘love is’ mantra’s come from a more cognitive part of my brain; the learning society side of it. The latter harsh ones come from an unconscious much and much older part of my brain. It’s exactly that part that makes sure I can drive my car without thinking. I wonder how love and pain can be like a horse and a carriage. And I wonder whatever happened to the much desired happiness factor.
Am I expected to accept and embrace my pretty sad interpretation of love? Yes I am expected to because it’s how it is. Past experiences have made it so. Looking back doesn’t do the trick to turn things around. What does turn my perception around? New experiences! In order to overwrite the old program with totally new bits and pieces. The bad news is that if we consider Pavlov, these new love experiences have to be repeated for quite some time before the prehistoric parts of the brain will adept to the new associations. Also what triggers the old association – love is pain – should be avoided to de-activate it. Easier said then done.
A life worthy of living evolves around experiences. Explore and challenge the big world outside, preferably the most extreme and remote parts of it. Apply for work in a certain field, and it’s experience that is inquired after. Instead of the ‘old school’ family name and place of birth. This year I will turn 48. I’ve done my bit of discovering the world, working and submerging into different states of mind and body. 

Suddenly silence and awe come over me. Now that I’ve left my childhood far behind. Now that I’ve become experienced in protecting myself from the big world outside. Now that life and it’s opportunities have become manageable. Now it happens to be so that I am setting out on a path of turning the experience of love around. Which is impossible. Apart from the fact that even if it were possible, I haven’t got a clue how to achieve it. 

There’s just one thing I know. 

Not-knowing is an auspicious recipe.

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Villa Castelletto

  

Most of the time Google maps doesn’t work. For some completely legitimate Italian reason. Communications and emotions are not yet outruled by cyber activity under the bright blue Tuscan skies. Human interaction is what’s being asked for. Trapped and nowhere else to look for it, I take to the small village’s main piazza, heading for the local bar. It’s the first of May, a beautiful day. A few locals hang around enjoying the fresh sun. Upon entering the typical bar gelateria, I am well aware of the impression I make. Being elegantly dressed, foreign, with long blond hair and wearing my most charming smile. The owner eagerly starts to explain how to get to the commercial centre where I am supposed to go and do my daily shopping for the week to come. 
Go down the road, take the second turn left. At the first stopping light turn right. Continue the road until you see an underway, leading to the other side of the railway. Follow the road for some four hundred metres, turn… That’s where I gave up. At the next cross roads, I look intensely to my right and and to my left, hoping to grasp a sight of the Coop supermarket. Big sigh. You bloody service providers! What’s the use of smart apps if they don’t work when you need them? A black and yellow little Smart car pulls over at my right side. The left side screen is being lowered and an Italian man in his fifties politely smiles at me. ‘If by any chance I was looking for the commercial center?’ he asks me. Wow! And he offers me to follow him. I am delighted. Like he himself is as well, so I presume, now closely followed by an elegantly dressed foreign woman with long blond hair and a most charming smile. 

After quite some turns he points me out the sought after Coop supermarket, stopping his car to receive my warm and happy mille grazie’s. He smiles and waves me goodbye with the most charming air kiss adressed to me in ages. 

That evening I cook pasta pesto with pinenuts and rucola for a starter. The main dish consists of artisinal Tuscan sausages served with a salad of lightly pickled fennel, zucchini and roman lettuce. As dessert bread&butter pudding.

Day three of an amazing experience, being chef in Italy for one week. In Tuscany surrounded by Chianti vineyards, not far from some ex patriots supporting me where ever they can and in the company of Kenneth from Kenia. Without his assistance my endeavours wouldn’t have been as succesful as they materialize, day after day.

We did it all: Saltimbocca, pasta frutte di mare, minestrone, lasagna, vitello al Marsala, biscotta al arancina, salmone, risotto prima vera, pizza margarita, carpaccio, panzanella and much more.

I give myself completely to the thirty members counting family I cater for. Gaining the world is my reward. An exceptionally priceless experience to be carried along my path for a long time to come.

The material reward is an offer to teach cooking classes in New York City. Gratefullness and placid contentment overtake me. If there’s anything I wish for it’s the continuation of the perfect present moment. It won’t get any better then this. Grace!