Tag Archives: connect

Smaller then I remember

In one of the two rooms up in the attic a folding camp bed was parked for me. The other room was scary. It was more of the real atticky part of the top floor in my parents house. It’s where my grandparents slept when they stayed over for the night. A fascinating orange and black tube containing brilliant cream that my grandfather used to comb through his hair in the mornings, made me cautiously sneek into that room. But if that marvellously intriguing object wasn’t laying around, and it hardly ever was since my grandparents peacefully lived at the other side of the country, I wouldn’t dear enter that real attic and happily sticked to my own better illuminated quarter. 

Every evening I’d align next to each other all my dolls and teddy bears, neatly tucking them in under the bed cover. Although the newly acquired barby dolls weren’t comfortable to share the bed with due to their edgy ligaments, they’d concurred themselves some precious space as well because I loved playing with them so much.

I sat on my knees next to the folding camp bed, cautious enough not to sit at either end of it after several collapses that got me, bed and everything on it, high up in the air. There was no place left for me under the neatly folded bed cover. Occupied as it was with all scattered pieces of emotion symbolized by playful doll faces and soft dark teddy bear eyes. 

We project our own set of habits and emotions onto the other. Actually this someone functions like a mirror. We think we see the other. But we only see what we know and that’s ourself. That’s us. We start with non complex single message emotions as featured by dolls and teddy bears and hug happily ever after with our first girl- and boyfriends, on and on with our partners, husband and wives. In fact we never stop hugging ourselves. If we do it right! 
Young at heart we familiarize with pure loveliness. As adolescents we get into more punky sets of emotions. Contrasting, complicated and intertwined, as unintelligible as we are ourselves. Growing older we start to assimilate personality traits and become more and more aware of complex sets of emotions. Our emotions as they are being triggered by a variety of cultural or natural expressions, are into exploring different layers of recognition through art, food, music, nature; touching beyond the skin. Still it’s in the other we see ourselves. It’s in the other we recognize our own mistakes, frustrations, loveliness and anger.

And this is exactly what happens to our dolls and teddy bears when we are kids. We project our own interior onto something outside of us. Representation, reflection, projection, you name it; what we see comes from deep down inside ourselves. As long as we’re not aware of the content inside of us, we project it outside. To make it clear, to visualize it before our own eyes. 

This little girl is arranging her emotions neatly side by side. Abundant as they are, there’s no place left – or no space yet – for her individual self; to lay down her own physical head on the pillow. 

During the same time this little girl starts giving her dolls names. In particular the beautiful big baby like doll with the eyes that open and close following the movements of the head. If you put her down, she’ll sleep. If you lift her up, her eyes spread wide open. The little girl is proud to own this big doll and at the same time she finds the big doll scary. Secretly and just a little bit she tells herself. Fact is that the plastic doll is hard headed and by far the largest member of her extended doll and teddy family. The name giving practice is pretty endless. This however is mainly due to the fact that every next morning she’s oblivious again of the names she’d came up with the preceding day. Until one day she remembers the big dolls name. It’s Victoria. The victorious and voluptuous plastic doll bears that name until today. 

How does a four year old girl know what victoria means? Has it been a way to concur the slight fear for her doll? Finally finding a suitable name, the one and only that lasted. Naming is the start of acquainting, of finding ways to get to know and eventually handle. In this case frightening and loving feelings at the same time. Victoria is overwhelming to the girl, is the victorious one to the girl and at the same time she loves the doll a great deal. Never in history Victoria was surpassed by another doll and until today Victoria lives on in the girls memory.

Somehow I managed to acquire a space in my bed night after night, surrounded by all my emotions, neatly tucked in next to me, well taken care of. And when they had silently fallen asleep I could rest my physical head next to them.

Lolita or Dolores, Part II

Nothing is required. It is very well possible to protect oneself against all the love and all the pain and to live a perfectly traumatized or phobic life. Running up- and down to duties, solely entering spotless spaces, closing eyes to injustice, abstracting culture by bringing it down to one-monthly visits to musical performances and museum cafés. And last but certainly not least: we are very well capable and will for sure silently bear those unexplainable little fears of heights, flying or other secret threats that come along with disconnecting. Opening up and closing down is like breathing in and out. We keep on doing it all the time. Aren’t we? Automatically? We’ve escaped or rescued ourselves from the rat race. And now suddenly we find ourselves settling down into another formality, soothed day after day by nice glasses of wine, interesting reads and the decent fantasy of making this special challenging trip, next year.

We live in a consumer paradise. Unfortunately it’s not only the material stuff we purchase exactly how and when it suits us. We got into the mode of wanting to feel in doses as well. Comparable to selecting our groceries from the shelves of the supermarket. We want the ingredients of what we’re about to feel, to be well advertised on the packaging. We actually even prefer to pay for it because it enables us to circumscribe pretty exact, restricted and narrow, the amount of what we get and to specify in terms of money what we can afford to spend in order to acquire exactly the amount of desired satisfaction. We want to enable ourself to open up the box of Pandora at a suitable time and close it when we’ve had enough. We let feeling in at command. Like we do when acting as if we control our kids, our garden, our weight and the traffic: ruling and out ruling feelings upon a whim. There’s rules and how-to’s for everything. How to (over) rule what you’re feeling is a main target in everyday life. Feeling tired? Grab a coffee. Suffering from a headache? Take a painkiller. Feeling down? Seek distraction. Fall in Love? Play hide and seek. You’ve only got to stick to the civilized manuals and guidelines and you’ll stay out of trouble. Social and outward trouble that is. As opposed to inward trouble which is lulled to sleep or anesthetized by French wine, moments of wellness or acquiring some must-haves.

As we speak I realize that we do not at all want to feel our everything and all that’s around and about. To the contrary! We’re trying our uttermost best to not feel next to nothing. We’re trying so hard to not connect!
Connection is advertised as something you experience while sitting on a yoga mat with your fingers crossed. Tuning in at the sound of aum while keeping your eyes and all other senses closed and shut up. We call this connecting with the inner self. What we’re doing is forcefully silencing thoughts and emotions to make space for nothing. After a bit we pretend to step into a sudden energy flow by elegantly moving from one asana into the next. Set and done we feel satisfied with what we’ve just done, more then with who we are and continue our daily lives as human doings instead of beings. Continue, maintain, proceed, keep up with it.

It starts to dawn at me that this can’t be the real flow of energy, contained as it is without any transforming or reborn power at all. This won’t lead to transforming the energy called pain into something else that can be released. Transforming despair into hope. Transforming knots into unwinding nests of loose ends. Why do I want this, if it doesn’t make me run harder, if it won’t give me back the control in life. It results in the opposite. It stops me from running away from the chaos. And it makes me stay put. Yeah! Finally.

To have your energy flowing for real, it takes connecting to a real source of power. Something mutual and universal I suggest. But it doesn’t really matter. As long as it is bigger then yourself. Who cares for connecting to your own level of apprenticeship? Move on up is what we’re in for. Progressing, growing and deepening the senses by broadening them and foremost alluding to the understanding of it. Keep away from it for too long and the engine is running on empty, stagnating and eventually it fails to ignite at all. Our attempts to reinforce ourselves by cursing, drinking or working hard failed. Pursuing authentic produce, spending expensive time in silence retreats or developing our own personal trainer programs actually to be honest, don’t do the trick either. You know what? It takes a hell of a lot of stopping, sitting in and letting go offs to see through that exact same window that opens onto the beautiful things in life. Lolita, Dolores, are you still with me!

Lolita or Dolores, Part I

Dolores or the mother of grief is Lolita’s real name; agent-provocateur of a whole complex of sexual pursuit and inhibition embodied in a novel by Nabokov. Feelings of attraction and guilt personified by and cheerfully nicknamed Lolita. Dolores being her real name, dolor Spanish for pain. Lolita is about the pain inflicted by Western civilization, bluntly imposing sex as not a good thing to have between a girl at the age of twelve and her stepfather. Lolita or Dolores would probably be called Felicita in a real world where mature girls are allowed to be mature when they are and real men are allowed to act upon their impulses, swift and resolute that is. For that’s how mankind survives.

Back in our not so real world: how do we act upon our instincts? Or do we not act at all but re-act, obstructing energy, merely giving way to feelings of pain and remorse. Pain that is inflicted by something bigger then ourselves: the rules of society, laws that protect the weak, administered authorities. I rather make companions in suffering for the things that are too big to carry around by myself, then bluntly act upon my instincts. Because if I do, I will be outlawed, out ruled or imprisoned. Hence, I unconsciously share and make fellows in carrying the pain, creating my own keepsakes of pain. Until the pain can be turned into something else like tears or grief and as such can be harmlessly released. It’s not the soul or whatever word you prefer to describe the essence of being in general and human being in particular, that’s crying. Souls, like boys, don’t cry. Actually boys should cry a little bit more. To keep them from doing more harm then preventable.

The body cries and sheds tears, not the soul. If ever, souls merely weep. The soul doesn’t get tensed, the body does. Souls just are. Beings. Not running, making love, eating nor the act of crying make them exist. Souls simply are. There’s one thing they do. They mate. Souls mate and make soul mates. In doing so they produce more soulful material. Let’s say they reproduce. To cut it short, when I’m crying it’s a form of pain release; it’s not my inner self that expresses itself. It’s outer tension turned into something else. Be it tears, laughter or rage, it remains energy, just neatly enveloped in different wrappings. Energy is energy. It only takes on different forms to manifest itself: pain, love, a tree or burning flames. It implies that pain cannot be dissolute. Dolores might be a pretty heavy name to carry – imagine giving it to your daughter – actually it’s what it is and what we all do. From friend to friend, from parent to child, from neighbor to neighbor, from driver to pedestrian and the other way around; we carry pain.

Talking pain, it’s universal. It’s all around and all about. The guy that jells at me in traffic, the parent that accuses me, the lover that hurts me; they all suffer themselves, not being able to digest the pain. It might be against all odds but pain simply is not to be digested. We say we digest pain like we say that male love goes through the stomach. Which symbolizes something essentially immaterial. What is digested are the keepsakes of pain and love. We turn them into something else. Into grief, hope, laughter, fantasies or sorrow. If we’re able to! We transform pain or love if we or others allow ourselves to do so. Then we release it. Pain in the form of tears, love in the form of tenderness. If not, if we’re not able to transform the pain, we’ll inflict it upon ourselves causing mental and physical illness or upon others in a faint attempt to get rid of it, understandable but extremely sorrowful. What happens if we’re not able to transform the love? Well look around and see for yourself.

Let the body release. As far as physical and mental barriers or boundaries permit. And this is why, even without consciously being aware of it, we crave to open up. As much as possible. Not so much to receive the love that’s presumably all around. Please keep looking for magnificent flowers and beautiful butterflies. See the beauty of it. To open up to all kinds of instant provocateurs of the senses. But be prepare to cry now, to feel horrible, down and outworn. Pain and the lack of love manifest. Transform to release it. It simply is a package deal. Once you really connect, you connect with everything around you. Love and injustice, misery and marriage; it’s all like horses and their carriage. You tell me what’s abundant: is it love or is it pain? And Lolita asks Dolores: ‘what is in a name anyway?’

Free of

Which content to share first? The exploration of free-of-animal-products-lunch-options in Amsterdam? An adventure an old friend of mine came up with. Like myself, he turned vegan almost two years ago. We share our experiences over vegan or even raw cheesecakes, banana bread and complete gourmet lunch deals. Appetizing yet remarkably more difficult to pursue then one would believe in the free-est city of all: Amsterdam. Really exploring a certain field needs persistence. We set out primarily every other Wednesday. This might change to every other Thursday. Along side persistence features structure. Indispensable assets to take off with.

The other interesting subject I am longing to share with you is a small little treatise on the difference between attachment and connection. This is more of a group travel. It’s the first time for me to make up my mind about the difference between attachment and connection. To do so I’d better be in your presence. If not I risk loosing track. The suspected major importance of the difference between attachment and connection (attaching an electric wire, plugging in for connection) holds me back a bit. I feel it to be difficult to grasp it’s full meaning. As opposed to the adventure that evolves around the ‘free of’ food-trip. Simply drawing upon some sort of rationalistic point of view and behaviour guided along a clear – free of – etiquette. Or isn’t it that simple? Am I oblivious of the important subconscious impact my friend and me make by eating vegan and the drive we feel to follow it through?

Let me quickly share some first results of our comparitive research into the vegan lunch options, just to give you an idea. After having had lunch at Dophert, Wagamama, the Alchemist Garden, Deshima and Lavinia -all being day time restaurants located in Amsterdam and offering good lunch options, we agreed upon the best lunch deal at Deshima. We do not take into account the bill. Price-quality relation isn’t the first thing to consider in this new type of sports. We take into account: the quantity of vegan options at the menu, the genuineness of the chefs’ vegan drive, the authenticity of the ingredients and the energy we got from the food and it’s location. We discovered ‘the Amsterdam way’ isn’t appealing if it comes to vegan cooking in particular or serving food in general. We feel best if our servings are honest and made with an amount of knowledge, love and attention that surpasses our own. The establishments with a kind of non-commercial feel, really focusing at the food, in an environment that’s not exactly cosy, hip or outstanding we like best: Deshima and Alchemist Garden. Lavinia makes a nice day break by presenting their products and menu in a customer friendly way, up to date yet low profile. Unfortunately the so called Amsterdam way rules. The awesome looking cakes at Lavinia all contain refined sugar. So far for the outcome of the research into vegan lunch options.

‘Free of’ features easily as the main adjective for 2015. The best adjective according to my humble opinion being no adjective at all. Free of as an adjective is coming close to this minimalistic best. There’s all kinds of free from. Free from as opposed to free form, is restrictive, bordered and contains a lot of no’s. Instead of freely forming – or going with – the flow. Alas! we do no longer go with the flow.

Yet at the same time we’re meant to accept all that is. No no’s, no resistance. At least that’s what mindfull or wise people are telling us. Forget your ego, don’t let your mind rule your behavior. This contradicts big time our efforts to live consciously by saying no to almost everything our bodies crave for. Or does it not? Acceptance versus resistance: it leads me to grasp for a solution hidden in the difference between being attached and being connected. Saying no to the good taste, nice textures and satisfaction derived from animal products, results in testifying to me and others that I am not attached to these animalistic seductions. Instead I connect to my body. If I really connect to my body without the fear of loosing what I like – being attached – I find out what I really need. However if then I discover the body cries for ice cream, red wine and sashimi, I am set back. The mind says: ‘that’s wrong!’ To make things even more complicated, we get to the explanation that if the body yearns for unhealthy stuff, it means the body is not in balance. Would it be in balance, it would crave for mere water when thirsty and carrots or beans when hungry. Pretty daunting and much of a disillusion after having prioritized food in every possible way for the past thirty years.

Where’s the exit? Experience! To go through it all. To find out that listening to my body doesn’t actually start with listening to my body. Conscious living and eating both start with the mind. Hence mindfulness. First I tell myself or let others and pseudo-scientific studies tell me, what is good or bad for my health. A good first step into this thousand miles journey is for example: Timeless secrets of Health and Rejuvenation by the late Andreas Moritz. The journey continues by saying no to almost anything that is easily available, palatable and payable. Hence the exploration of alternative, macro-biotic, ayurvedic and vegan fields to find out what suits my taste. Then developing proper recipes, creating a personal daily routine and new cravings. Along the way this most exciting revelation pops up: I can actually make the body crave for green tea and date balls covered with shredded coconut instead of glasses filled with Sauternes accompanied by butterscotch chocolate, not to mention the terribly wrong foie gras. It takes a couple of years and a lot of don’ts. But it works!

After all I am not so sure if real connection is coming in. I’ve merely just changed my patterns and habits. Because the mind and others made me believe my former patterns and habits were unhealthy, making me stressed, tired and old. I was able to transform my attachments. Which is an important step into the direction of being freed from attachments. But it isn’t the same thing. Sometimes I really am able to feel the body, to connect to it. The funny thing is, when it happens, I am happy. The inner body doesn’t talk back telling me what to resist.

With special thanks to my friend Michiel Oudakker and awesomeamsterdam.nl

Ik-woord of ik word?


Mijn boekenkast staat er vol mee: geschriften over ik. Het begint met dwepende romanfiguren, breidt zich uit naar filosofie en wordt aangevuld met self help literatuur. Zelfs een boek over het gebruik van het woord ik in het algemeen, in gesproken of geschreven tekst, tref je aan tussen deze studies of the universe, mijn persoonlijke universiteit.

Daarna zijn ‘Overstijg Jezelf’ van neurowetenschapper Joe Dispenza en teksten van de Dalai Lama de planken in mijn kast komen bewonen. Ook een interessant boekje met de titel The Cutting Edge (Bjørn Aris, 2012) verstopte zich tussen de geleerde en wijze woorden. Over menselijk potentiëel en hoe het zich op z’n best manifesteert. Hier vormt zich het begin van Life beyond the concept of me.

Hehe, dat lucht op!

Het grote geheel.
Energie en waar het vandaan komt.
En zoiets als liefde, wat is dat?

Van individuele aanwezigheid hier is eigenlijk geen sprake. Ieder individueel ik-je is, oftewel bestaat, überhaupt en enkel en alleen bij de gratie van de relatie met zijn of haar omgeving in de breedste zin van het woord. Een omgeving waarvan ‘de ander’ van Beauvoir, de wil van Schopenhauer, Freuds verleidelijke theoriën, Jungs archetypen en Tolstojs gecompliceerde en paradoxale karakters deel uitmaken. En waar concepten zoals verleden, heden, toekomst en de maatschappij gewoon projecties zijn van het vermoeden van een groter geheel.

Ik-jes zijn deeltjes energie zoals alles. Vestig je aandacht erop dan materialiseren ze. Waarbij de ik-energie steeds geconcentreerder wordt: ik word. Concentreer je je er niet op dan blijven ik-deeltjes in de potentiële fase, niet meer of minder dan hybernating onderdeeltjes van het grote geheel. Hybernating is wat je computer doet als je het toetsenbord een tijdje niet aanraakt. En het is de Engelse vertaling van een winterslaap doen. Het grote geheel waarin we dan tijdelijk ten onder gaan wordt ook wel omschreven en/of gevisualiseerd als het onbewuste, de goddelijke eenheid, de zee of het universum: feel free to choose your own destination.

Al die relaties samen met de moeilijke, lieve, eerlijke en poëtische woorden die ze met zich meebrengen hebben één ding gemeen: het zijn sta-in-de-wegs voor communicatie, voor het maken van de verbinding. Nu weten we waar het christelijke gebruik ‘ter communie gaan’ vandaan komt: communiceren. En wij maar denken dat dat een modern begrip is! Als relaties en woorden communicatie in de weg staan, en je dit logisch doortrekt, kom je tot het interessante resultaat dat het ik-woord in de weg staat van ik word. Want minder ik-zijn leidt tot meer zijn. Hier is het complexe en paradoxale karakter van Tolstoj’s Anna Karenina niets bij.

Hybernaten en regenereren hebben met elkaar te maken. Het doet denken aan mediteren. Etymologisch gezien is mediteren verwant aan mederi (genezen) en aan het woord meten. Het overpeinzen waard! Want hoe heet het als mensen hybernaten? Mediteren! Je afsluiten van de bewuste wereld om je te meten aan het grote geheel. Als het ik-woord negatief is, is ‘ik word’ positief. Samen vormen ze een mooi plaatje, als een foto. Dat als je er even bij stil blijft staan (meditatie) komt tot regeneratie.

Woorden vormen dan misschien obstakels in het communiceren, mooi zijn ze wel! In potentie…

Fairy Tale & Voodoo

Daar staat ze. Op het bordes voor Museum van Loon aan de Keizersgracht. Ze draagt een classy Audrey Hepburn zonnebril en een sportief-elegante kaki broek. Hier is ze gisteren getrouwd. Met de zachtaardige, slimme krullenbol die naast haar staat. Zijn vader blies het ‘Daar Komt de Bruid’ op een bugel, een soort trompet maar dan mooier. De tonen, dieper en melodieuzer dan die van een trompet, weergalmden over de gracht. Bruid en bruidegom kwamen gearmd aangelopen uit de richting van het Amstelveld. Glazenwassers hielden stil, de toevallig aanwezige bezoekers van het Museum stonden ademloos in de hall. Pa was emotioneel en miste een toon hier en daar. Wat het nog mooier maakte.

Na de ceremonie zijn er taart en bubbels in de binnentuin van weleer gelegen tussen het Museum aan de Keizersgracht en het koetshuis aan de Kerkstraat. De Russische familie en vrienden van de bruid dragen hun hoeden met linten met dezelfde overgave als dat ze drinken van de Crèmant de Bourgogne. De Nederlandse afdeling speecht. De bruidstaart in drie lagen witte fondant gevuld met fijne frambozen, crème en cake is klassiek gedecoreerd met roosjes en trossen van wit suikergoed en wedijvert lustig om het predikaat eervolle vermelding met de wit satijnen mouwloze bruidsjurk, voorzien van swaroski ’beslag’ en een sleepje.

Simpelweg de sprookjesachtige dream of the big day come true.

Aan het einde van de middag gaan we allemaal zoetjes aan over tot de orde van de dag. De Nederlandse gesprekken komen op de Mc Donalds en de Burgerking. Niet veel later vertrekken de gasten voor een diner in een restaurant één gracht verder. De taart is op, de Crèmant bijna, we ruimen de laatste cateringspullen in mijn auto. Ik laat iets vallen. Het is de bruidegom. Degene die bedoeld was als ornament op de taart but never made it there omdat de witte rozen van suikergoed daar op zichzelf zo mooi rustten. Het gipsen beeldje wordt door de val onthoofd. Ik schrik. ‘Dat is voodoo’, roep ik uit. ‘Nou ga dat maar ‘ns googlen, hoe je het effect daarvan ongedaan maakt’ roept mijn collega.

Hou ik dan niet van trouwen?

Niet van mannen?

Niet van andermans geluk?

Ik schaam me. Vooral omdat ik geloof in de realiteit van wat er gebeurt. De volgende dag word ik gelukkig verlost. Fairy tales & voodoo, same same is het besef dat ‘t ‘m doet.

Als ik nu dan bij het statige bordesje aan kom fietsen vanaf de kant van de Vijzelstraat, daalt het prille paar af van belle etage naar straatniveau. Het neemt de paar overgebleven flessen Crèmant van me in ontvangst en ze overhandigen me een mooie tip. Ik ben ze dankbaar en van emotie pink ik een traan weg. Niet veel later rijd ik weg van het sprookjesachtige Museum. Ik keer terug op mijn eigen weg, richting de Vijzelstraat en zij op de hunne, richting het Amstelveld.


Voodoo heb ik even opgezocht. Ik lees geïnteresseerd dat Benin het enige land ter wereld is waar vodou (Franse spelling versus het Amerikaanse voodoo) de nationale religie is. SInds 2003 is het ook in Haïti, waar vodou vandaan komt, een officieel erkende religie. Het woord stamt vermoedelijk af van ‘vous deux’ (jullie twee) wat ik direct in verband breng met de twee gedaantes van mens en pop, maar wat geïnterpreteerd dient te worden als twee-éénheid: ‘mens en god’. ‘Going together like a horse and a carriage.