The shower water feels soft on my skin. The Maltese people I meet seem soft. Which is rather strong as opposed to weak or the opposite of brave. They come across as soft hearted, soft personalities and care-ful. My skin feels soft. There’s not much water pressure which makes the water sprinkle gently on my soft skin. The water is just a little too warm but I prefer to keep it that way. As if it intensifies the sensation I feel on my skin. I enjoy it. I need the gentleness. Soft because of the lack of pressure. It’s what I came to Malta for. Without knowing it. When people are not under pressure, they are soft and gentle. When people are under pressure they get edgy and hard. Senses that need to be sedated or distracted to not suffer from the pressure. Senses that crave to engage with the natural flow of growing plants, rolling waves and floating clouds. To escape the pressure. A slightly too warm soft sprinkling of fine water drops on my skin is today’s resolution.
Next to the Hotel Windsor I am sitting in the sun behind glass. It feels much like being at a Dutch beachcafe early in the season. Only some elderly people take or have time to drink a coffee in the first warm sunrays of the year. Well protected against Northern winds by glass window panes. Cafe Excello’s window panes are made of translucent heavy plastic. The sunlight that shines through has a golden lustre. This is down town city business centre Melbourne opposite the public transport hub Parliament Station. A brisk autumn clarity with the sun shining bright and the usual late morning hussle and buzzle. Which in down town Melbourne is almost as easy going and soothing as the sight of a sunflowerfield in Southern France.
Another time, which now seems ages ago, another life time even, I bided my time in the same cafe. It was during the last hours I had to spend by myself while waiting to go to the airport, to return to Amsterdam, where I still lived back then. While I write lived, I realize I wasn’t alive in Amsterdam. At least I wasn’t alive in the way I am alive here. Is that because my heart had moved here already and everything else was yet to follow? Or had I stopped living in Amsterdam way before I met the love of my life and before he enabled me to re-take life? Revisit it like I revisit Café Excello now. The transition that took off upon falling in love with him confronts me with a lot of unfamiliarity, with feelings of loss, being lost and a loneliness because of no longer being alone. Which seems to make no sense. But only because of the presence of a significent other one distinguishes what it is to be alone. I reckon new beginnings involve a lot of death and dying. What isn’t aligned with my heart ceases to draw me in. No more compromising, no more compromises, all cards on my lucky number. In order to get started, to only get started with playing the game, with living life again. I engage. First with him. Then slowly to slowly with other things that form part of my life. I vibrate. Sometimes in terror and agony but more then that, I feel again. He allows me to. The moments I spend with the love of my life make up for the losses. It’s as devastating as it is a sumptuous release without precedent. It’s excellent.
I guess we suffer for love because love wants us to. True love really is too good to be true. So at least it needs some re-balancing by agony, hardship and warfare. Basically it demands unconditionally all we are able to throw in: the highest most exquisite pleasures versus the lowest darkest hours. I have started living again. Feelings of bliss, gratitude and falling completely to pieces alternate, making their way into homeostasis, the new balance, him and me. It’s the most satisfying and challenging journey I’ve been on, throughout my entire life.
Back in Café Excello after two years. My heart manages to get things aligned. It does need more time to get it all done. Meaning more hope, expectations and set backs to live through, but I trust the process. I just listened to a talk about trust. I didn’t agree with the speaker. It’s about finance and ethics, organised by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne, hosted in The Windsor Hotel. We were less then thirty people. I did feel maybe for one of the first times in my adult life, part of an association, of a group, having recently signed up as a member of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Australia. There’s no commitments or responsabilities involved. It’s just because I am, here to stay. After I followed my heart. Which is enabled and allowed by the love of my life. Bringing forth feelings of intense gratitude. Revisiting Café Excello leads to the awareness of a spark of excellence, with golden beams of sunlight reflected in an empty waterglass at the table in front of me, stricking beauty of life, of love and of the magnificent power of the heart.
What’s an agreement and why does it take time and sometimes effort to reach an agreement? Is an agreement basically a compromise? I like red. You like white. Is the agreement we drink rosé? No. That is a compromise. If I don’t get what I want you also should not get what you want. Both maneageable unhappy is what we call a compromise. A compromise makes us survive. As opposed to truly live, be happy, be angry and reach agreements out of disagreements. It seems to me we tend to focus on compromises. Today the ‘flow of things’ is important and should not be obstructed, at least not completely. In our personal relationships we say yes to what ‘the other’ wants in order for the other to say yes to what we want ourselves. The constant deliberating, debating and dealing becomes the dynamic of the relationship. We find it more important to be heard and our wishes and desires to be taken into account, then that they are being met. We compromise ourselves eagerly. Dealing, debating, arguing, resolving matters is a dynamic and to me it seems one of the most common forms of relationships between individuals, governements and most important, couples. If you say yes, you agree. If you say no, you disagree. Disagreement calls for war or desertion into the dessert of one’s own self. Are you comfortable being alone with yourself in disagreement with the world outside you and/or with your significant ‘other’ ? During puberty we are. After that we are supposed to no longer (be) like that. So we compromise. We compromise our wishes and desires, we compromise with each other, we compromise the past, the future and the present. It goes without notice, no yelling, no tears. So much better then reaching an agreement over things you don’t agree upon. Or is it maybe worthwhile to sweat, cry and express yourself, to retain your sanity through confrontation, to wade through mud, master dragons and suffocate in order to reach the destination of The Agreement as the defenite and purposeful ending or resolving of the habitual disagreement. We’ve all got our own agendas, fortunately. Like humanity got into a spur because of differentation of professions, we might want to adhere to our differences of opinion rather then forging them into badly fitting merges by way of compromising.
– soft whispering in the background:
Soft and snappy: ‘This is so not peaceful’
Esoteric and melodious: ‘It goes entirely against the flow’
With a sigh: ‘Unheard of’
Further away: ‘Indeed! Unheard of…’
-until the mumbling fades
I pick a rose on my way to the airport. A few hours before you arrive. The first sunrays and pieces of blue sky come peeking through the white clouds. Just before coloring into layered strokes of baby pink and baby blue. I wear blue jeans and a leather jacket. The high heels are compulsory. They are my favorite ones. Made of purple suede. Three minutes away from the pretty rough beach, surrounded by vibrant nature, I enjoy the inapropriate me-outfit. This part of New Zealand’s beach reminds me of The Netherlands. It’s the texture of the sand, the color of the seawater, the wind. At 9.30 pm I walk down Pandora street, towards Beach road. The lush rose seduces me with her color. I approach it. To stick my nose in it’s velvety petals. Her sweet strong scent blows me away. It’s as heavy and deep as it’s bright. Just like it’s color: fuchsia rose. It’s for you.
Because the feeling I’ve got for you is the same. Deep, heavy and bright, like fuchsia, rose, beautiful, no sharp edges, velvety, no over excited tantalizing shivers. As fantastic as they are and as wonderful they form part of us. For now the edge is replaced by something complete, equally alive, equally real, but almost placid. You are my rose.
My love for you opened a box of Pandora. I contemplate as I walk to the end of the street. But only muddy earth full of shit, is like fertile grounds for a beautiful rose, an unique deep, heavy, bright fuchsia one. The bus arrives. It travels to the central bus interchange. There I wait 30 minutes. Before hopping on the 29 bus. Nine more minutes to go before the airport. And some more before I see you again.
It took a long time before I could surrender to the yoga practice. This monday morning where the world is grey, at peace and beautiful. ‘Why did I not ask you what is the matter? Surely something is, otherwise you wouldn’t have called me’.When I manage to let go, I am surprised by how agile my body is. Mind and body manifest the same tightness. When the one breaks loose, the other does the same. It does needs a mental breakdown during the practice right after you’d called me and I’d hung up on you, to make me aware of it.
Before I realize it my thoughts become agressively imposing: ‘Reina, he’s simply looking for distance, you also need to hold back’. ‘No, you’re just saying that because you didn’t see him yesterday and will see him only for a small amount of time today’.’You better move to New Zealand Reina. His whole divorce thing is going to take at least another year. You better use that time wisely. And if he eventually pulls it around and comes along, be happy. You can’t depend or rely on him now. He’s far too worried and preoccupied himself now’. Terminating the train of thought with: ‘We will not have breakfasts together, we will not go out together, we will not spend time making a new life together anywhere soon’. My body stretches furiously, seeking to expand, become one with the surrounding space, tapping into the group energy. Meanwhile I find myself in a semi-continuous state of being on the verge of crying. Until three oms finish it off and I step outside the world of body and mind.
I don’t want to let go of it as yet, deciding once more to visit a massage salon. To relief pain in the neck caused by a serious car accident I got me and my two daughters into some weeks ago. But each time I let myself be distracted, thinking it’s not important enough to pay attention to and so I didn’t make it to the recovery table yet. I am heading for The Vigorous Thai, passing a promising Turkish grocery store. The produce on show make me happy. I let myself be lured in, ordering Bulgarian sheep cheese, medjoul dates and kalamati olives. When I pick mint and cilantro out of a cooled show case, the owner stops me and asks me to follow him to the back. We enter a large dark and cool space right behind the store that looks like a giant mechanic place more then the storage of a foodshop. From card board wholesale boxes on the concrete floor, he pulls out freshly delivered neatly binded herbs and hands them to me. The scent is lovely. Then he quickly sends me back into the store: ‘Hush, before you give me a heart attack’. I laugh and thank him. ‘I not only sell you the ingredients, I’d cook them for you too. Just to keep you here’. He follows me back into the shop, uttering more compliments: ‘ridiculous, you should be forbidden’. His words energize me. Leaving the shop, I have forgotten about the massage and I finally sit down to text you.
On Beyond Zebra is a beautiful children’s book by the infamous Dr.Seuss. My second daughter Mahdee is reading it with me. Every letter invented as a continuation of our alphabet beyond the letter Z, she points at and excitedly exclaims:’wow, that letter is beautiful!’. We indulge in Dr. Seuss’ fantasy of ‘a List of Letters for People who Don’t stop at Z’. We marvel together at the Yuzz for Yuzz-a-ma-Tuzz, the Fuddle for Miss Fuddle-dee-Duddle and the Spazz for Spazzim.
Life has got the capacity to go on beyond the edge of the end of the alphabet. To me it seems to shift into another realm, surpassing common sense and exploring the whereabouts of unique sensability. I read back the ‘About’ page of this website. It talks about living in the present moment. Like we all do nowadays. I pledge to somehow differentiate from ‘something else’, my five senses, i.e. how to experience life solely based upon the impressions generated by the senses.
How can we experience life other then through our five senses? I am talking about experiencing life through the mind. Which ridiculously enough opposes mindfulness. More on that later in life. Experiencing life through the mind goes by applying filters. Filters that tell you how life should be, as opposed to how it presents itself in her naked form. Superego, religious paradimes, legislation, society and it’s set of rules and ethics; all are examples of filters. It’s all like taking a camera and viewing the world through a lens, manipulating the edges, the brightness and the sharpness-depth of what we are exposed to.
What does life look like beyond these manipulations? What does life look like beyond the controllable frames? Words fail to communicate. We can share in words what is known. We can’t get the unknown across, other then living and witnessing it together.
Let’s just be difficult. And challenge our fellow souls who successfully demonstrate the purpose of traveling rather then that of reaching a destination. So let’s just be annoying and ask ourselves the question: ‘what if the beginning and the end are contrary to current wisdom, all about the destination rather then about the journey? Just for the sake of it. Or to be brutally honest, because reality has it that sometimes or suddenly, life, or at least my life, is all about a certain, specific destination. Which wonderfully leads me to the realization that without realizing it, at specific yet undefined moments the present is presenting me with an endless, continuous journey.
‘What ifs’ bring me in a wondrous world of fantasy and imagination, seducing me straight onto the way out of a sound and surrounding reality. Exit, green signs pointing towards flights of stairs. The ones you physically find next to and metaphysically as opposed to, the elevation mechanism called a lift. What ifs generally don’t have the tendency to lift you up. What ifs often lead to a place where it isn’t about logic and cognitive abilities. It makes me browse another reality. An inner reality of inside stories that float and rave upon the waves of feelings, cravings and longings. It made me tattoo at the back of my shoulder: ‘dreams are wishes of the heart’. A reality where satisfaction hardly is possible, yet always just around the corner. A reality shaped by the rhythm of a constant pendulum of frantically searching and researching at one end, while at it’s other extremity finding balance by blockage and deprivation.
Let’s assume that the concept of destiny equals our so called point of satisfaction. We assume things the whole day. In particular about other people’s thoughts, emotions and intentions. So now let us assume something about our own conception. We do have the capacity to feed ourselves with whatever it is we want, to such an extent that at a certain point we say: I’ve had enough, I am done, full, satisfied. At that point we experience a sense of satisfaction. But then, as chance unsurprisingly has it, we quickly find a new spot at the horizon to reach for. And so we accumulate a wealth in experiences. We diversify the richness of our taste palette. We widen the scope of our possessions, let them be made of material, bare power or fulfilling relationships. Eventually we end up being experienced, rich and possessed. But are we ever really satisfied? Or let’s put it this way: does satisfaction actually exist? It makes me compare a sense of satisfaction to the concept of destiny – or there being a destination in life.
What if? I bluntly put forward that a destination does not exist other then in our mind. That the concept of destiny merely functions as a tool, an apparent focus point, allowing us to thrive, move forward, push along, using, or driven by, forces of nature comparable to water whirls, blazing winds and striking lightning. We need our destination and our point of focus as an excuse to flow with those forces of nature. The conceptualization of a destiny, a point of focus and the idea that it is due to our own doings, that it’s us ourselves getting us there, give us a sense of mastering those forces of nature, that we control and that we lead instead of being led by human nature. Why do we call such a vast thing as nature, human anyway? Smells like an effort to master or at least control The Force.
We assume the continuous development, proactively unrolling, dynamically pushing like sprouts do, is led by our own genius. And it’s exactly this assumption that tricks us into being haunted. As human beings, we turn into human doings, restless, never satisfied, always (de)parting, never arriving. And you know what? To stop the motion is not an option. Stop, hold back, like pulling the reins of a galloping Arabian horse, resist the race, back out of it by trying to repress forces of nature that are so much bigger then a bit of consciousness wrapped in a human body. Inertia makes us wonder about the difference between repression and depression. Inertia leads us to believe, have faith, divert into the realm of dreaming, finding distraction and the ephemere satisfaction of multiple addictions. Closing the circle I like to put forth that the absence of a conceptual triplet evolving around being destined, destiny and destination frees the way to literally realize what it actually is that the present beholds. I assure you it’s more then just cruising along.
The light is beautiful Monday morning in my bedroom as I finally open my eyes. I find myself enveloped by a concrete ceiling, three white plastered walls and reflections of sunlight at a comfortable duvet cover and an iron bedroom doorpost. At two instances the bright white light is broken up in an array of rainbow colors, caused by the way sunbeams are broken through the sliding double glass of the small bedroom window.
At 8 am my youngest daughter is walking in almost as if she’s set on fire, the sun reflected by her white blond hair that bright. She clenches her eyes, turning her head away slightly as to not be overwhelmed and blinded by the magnificent sunlight, ‘I am hungry’. I ask her to join me in bed for a minute. She doubtfully agrees: ‘I am hungry’. But she smiles a lot as usual and tells me her hundred little stories. I yawn, unable to pull myself out of the reflection zone.
I sent her, happy with the full permission of getting the strawberries out of the fridge herself, down the stairs. Within the time it takes me to write the above, she’s next to my bed again: ‘what’s more for breakfast?’ I have to get it over with. I want to resign on life. But in fact there’s nothing to resign upon. Bits of gray concrete, stretches of immaculately white plaster, possibly showing an overwhelming bright white reflection and as luck has it, that bright white reflection breaks up, momentarily unveiling it’s true colors. The wandering mind, the coloring light, no more then reflections.
‘At 10.15 am we have availability for a 60 minute massage’.
‘That’s perfect. My kids start surf classes at 10 am. I like to book the massage at 10.15 am’.
After processing the credit card payment by phone and a long intermezzo about booking the family baths at the hot springs for tomorrow with the kids, no clay experience because this isn’t available for kids and kids can’t hang around the ‘family–bath-hot-springs’ without supervision.
‘Well all is done. Please make sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to your massage’.
‘Please make sure to arrive 30 minutes before the actual starting time of the massage’
‘That’s complicated. I will drop my kids at 10 am at the beach and then come to you’
‘If you are late it will reduce your massage time. Our massages are back to back’.
I just paid AUS$150 for a massage, the most expensive massage I ever booked, I think but I don’t say it.
‘You need to be 30 minutes early to fill out the necessary paperwork, get changed into a robe and make your way to the treatment rooms where you will be seated to wait untill you are being guided to your massage table’.
‘Could I maybe save some time by filling out the so called necessary paper work already tomorrow? Since I will be at your hot springs then with my kids. Small effort for me to drop by your reception shortly’.
‘Unfortunately, that’s not possible’.
Our conversation lasts the necessary amount of time it takes me to become familiar with the impossibilities of a luxurious life style. After I turn and shake my world a bit, my kids on Wednesday are going to be dropped off by me 45 min ahead of their surfing class at the milk bar. Where they will be picked up by the van of the East Coast Surf School. I like easy going people. So that Wednesday at 9.45 am sharp I enter the reception lounge of the spa area at the Hot Springs. The paperwork to be filled out consists of one A4 with seven questions about allergies, age and gender. By 9.50 am after having fulfilled my writing tasks, I am changed into my robe and escorted to the treatment rooms uphill.
‘Would you like some tea? This is Hester. The two of you will be treated in about 15 minutes. Please make yourself comfortable’. Hester takes up a magazine and asks me one or two questions about where I am from. She glances through the glossy while talking to me. She’s from Melbourne, aged around 60, a summer house at the peninsula and trusted with a remarkable memory about Amsterdam, my home town, which she visited in 1977. Walking arm in arm with her husband, he was being propositioned by a girl at one of the streets where girls find themselves inappropriately dressed standing and wiggling their hips in red illuminated windows.
‘Melbourne must have changed a lot over the past twenty years?’
‘Oh well, since I am living in it, I don’t see the change. Aside from the grafitti that has gotten way out of hand. A pity that the streetview has been contaminated in such a way’.
‘Really? Just recently there was this article in the NY times about the extrordinairy graffitti in Australia and New Zealand’.
Shortly after I decide to rest my case and silently wait for my massage saviour to come rescue me.
Helen is being collected. Another woman that meanwhile had come into the relax room, is being collected. Finally Leia comes rushing in, accidentally smashing the door close behind her while apologizing for being a bit sweaty: ‘the hill is steep you know’. I like Leia although I think her demeanour is not very professional. She explains me some things about the ingredients in the oil that she is using. I tell her my skin is not prone on heavy scented creams and oils, essential or not. Obviously she forgets about this soon enough. The amount of very cold oil splashed on my skin without being warmed by her hands first, is quite excessive. The temperature in the massage room already being cooler then comfortable, most probably due to the fact that Leia herself is a bit overheated and let’s the aircon cool her down. I decide I don’t want her to get in a bad mood and keep my mouth shut. Bite your lip Reina, and endure. The massage itself literally doesn’t make a big impression. I think there’s no chance at all to improve the experience. I decide once more to keep my mouth shut. Leia finishes and asks me to wait for her to return so she can let me out. I wait, realizing my cloths are in the dressing room down hill. I wonder why I am left to wait. I think of my children who must probably be towards the end of their surf class by now. After several long minutes I step out of the massage room. Planning to visit the toilet but discarting the idea when I see four women waiting in line for 1 single toilet. I want to make my way out of here as soon as possible. And then I almost bump into Leia again who is hurrying with a large pile of towels on her arms through the corridor. She manages to set me up with a small little double folded card that says: treatment plan, while I apologize myself as polite as possible under the pretext of kids waiting for me to be picked up. ‘Don’t wash the oil off’, Leia concludes insistingly. But I can’t wait to wash the excessive amounts of oil off. I’ve got trouble finding my way back down hill to the changing rooms, paths being restricted by ropes preventing a free through way so that the non-privileged can’t trespass the more exclusive parts of the premises. With some assistance I make my way down and quickly into a shower to shortly afterwards pass by the reception, where I wait, hesitating a moment, not knowing what to do with my locker-wrist band, the girls behind the reception all engaged in phone conversations. When I am just about to hurry on, I am being asked in a generous tone: ‘How was it mam, did you enjoy your massage this morning?’
At the end of the day I read in my treatment plan: ‘discount on products applies, next recommended treatment: Morrocan Cocoon’.
In Bhaktapur’s busy bus station’s street, the pavement is swept immaculately clean. Big chicken are foraging, most shop owners with a damping cup of tea between the palms of their hands. It ‘s not that cold, 8.30 am. I change bus on my way from Nepal Yoga Retreat in Telkot to Kathmandu, on my first day off. Quickly taking a super sweet black tea at a little café outside. I am not into sugar. Maybe because I used to like it too much I try to avoid it now as much as possible. Not today. I am excited to be where I am. I order a second tea right away against any mindful objections. Not much later on the bus to Kathmandu I feel pretty sick. Sugar overload on an empty stomach. But feeling sick in an overcrowded bus in Nepal is somehow the way it should be. I accept my condition. No regrets. I love being here.
Ayurveda favors eating with your hands. Aside from seeing, smelling and tasting food, one should feel it as well. Makes perfect sense to me. And certainly to my kids. Can’t wait to tell them. It is awkward though, sitting in a quality food café – a name much preferred here for lunchrooms – where the food looks absolutely delicious. Instead of sandwiches or a salad, here lunch is served as a plate of rice with a variety of condiments, freshly made, freshly ground, lovely scents. Some use a spoon. Most eat with one of their hands. Mixing rice with sauce or curry and aptly shoveling it up into their mouth using three or four fingers. Although the garnished rice sticks all over the hand, it does look quite civilized actually.
This will make my kids very happy.