From my window I notice the boring, grey day. It doesn’t look very inviting. The past two days I delivered an intensive training; being out there and passing on a lot of my energy. A walk in the woods would help me, feel the ground under my own feet again. The forest is near and I have the time. But I don’t want to, I don’t feel like it and I am also just tired. What is this? What obstacle lies there in front of me that keeps me from doing what I know to be good for me and what I usually like doing? To have the ability but to be unwilling. In another, emotional aspect of my life I feel an unwillingness and an inability. That has to with letting go, for which I am not prepared. And then there is a willingness but an unability with my light smoking addiction that bothers me. I have bookshelfs full of sensible words but they are not helping if I don’t feel where my resistance lies. The words only serve to show me where I am not, that it is not good and that therefore I’m still not good enough. On impulse I get my tarot cards out. Let them show me what is in stead of what should be. Miraculous things, these cards. They do show me what is, in the here and now. Brieflly (without the deeper personal subtleties that the card adds):
Able, yet unwilling: devotion and discipline
Willing, yet unable: the natural restraint
Unable and unwilling: calmness and surrender
The cards give a fresh and unexpected view on the here and now. Now there is silence, quiet and peace and I am ready to go into the day.
Able and willing: go for a walk 🙂
“Sooner or later we have to admit that the importance does not lie in finding something, but in being found”
The forest is busy with lots of people getting some fresh air. I too need some fresh air after the social events of the holidays, that also sometimes kept me from finding the silence in these days. I overhear many conversations. I hear a lot of anecdotes, facts and opinions. We find a lot, I hear and are quite busy convincing others. Perhaps that’s the way in which people manage their space? When the drizzle starts the forest empties out, most people don’t like walking in the rain. In the now quiet nature there is no opinion. Nature is. It doesn’t ask anything of you. When you entrust yourself to nature it gives. In the images, the sounds, the smells and the moving through. In the silence and the wonder that happens then, new thoughts and considerations come to you effortlessly. You come back to yourself. Another wonderful thought is that nature, in the here and now, exists only for me. If nature were conscious, then I were there solely for her as well. It was made for me, as I was made for this forest. We are part of each other.
What if we could share like this with another person. To just be in the wonder of our being. When you get to know the other person, you also learn about yourself. In vulnerability and in fear, in attention and in despair, always lovingly. In this deep surrender to the other you also learn to know your deepest self. Perhaps you fear to lose yourself but in giving yourself deeply, nothing is lost. You are being found, you become who you are in your deepest being.
Suddenly now I see the link with my last blogpost. Love’s gift lies in acceptance, rather than giving. In being found, rather than finding.
“Love’s gift cannot be given, it waits to be accepted.” (Rabindranath Tagore)
It is a calm day under a wintry sun. Over the forest and under the trees lies an air of quiet stillness. The life of the trees has retreated to their roots and they seem dormant in the quiet of the day. Trees are also reflected in the puddles of last days’ rain. The waterways and gullys are still dry, however. To recover from last summers’ drought we would need 200 days of rain like we had yesterday, I heard. It doesn’t seem like that is going to happen before next summer.
It’s a gentle, still day, that invites to be silent and reflective, like the trees. It invites us to connect to our roots through our dreams or meditations and to connect yet again to our soul’s longing. Maybe there is a thought or a reflection that you would take into your dreams to be seen in the soft light of your soul’s wisdom. Mine would be the lines above this text, by RabindranathTagore. What might be yours?
The early dark of the winters’ evening invites me in, invites me down…
with silvery droplets of yesterday’s frost
The river gently, softly flowing
Where we sat on that summers’ eve
Everything flows, nothing is forgotten
“For millions of years, before you arrived here, the dream of your individuality was carefully prepared. You were sent to a shape of destiny in which you would be able to express the special gift you bring to the world. Sometimes this gift may involve suffering and pain that can neither be accounted for nor explained. There is a unique destiny for each person. Each one of us has something to do here that can be done by no one else. If some one else could fulfil your destiny, then they would be in your place, and you would not be here. It is in the depths of your life that you will discover the invisible neccesity which has brought you here. When you begin to decipher this, your gift and giftedness come alive. Your heart quickens and the urgency of living rekindles your creativity”.
“Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved. Friendship is always an act of recognition. This metaphor of friendship can be grounded in the clay nature of the human body. When you find the person you love, an act of ancient recognition brings you together. It is as if millions of year before the silence of nature broke, his or her clay and your clay lay side by side. Then, in the turning of the seasons your one clay divided and separated. You began to rise as distinct clay forms, each holding a different individuality and destiny. Without even knowing it, your secret memory mourned your loss of each other. While your clay selves wandered for thousands of years through the universe, your longing for each other never faded. This metaphor helps to explain how in the moment of friendship two souls suddenly recognize each other. It could be a meeting on the street, or a party, a lecture or just a simple banal introdcution, then, suddenly there is the flash recognition and the embers of kinship glow. There is an awakening between you, a sense of ancient knowing. Love opens the door of ancient recognition. You enter. You come home to each other at last…”
I am on an evening walk. It is dark but not too dark. The full moon shows its face every once in a while through the clouds that are gently drifting in from the south-east. Walkin in the dark is very different from walking in day time. You walk in a more feeling way, more in a hearing way. It is quieter, I can hear my breathing. Sometimes there is a rustle in the leaves. The light of the moon in winter time is different from summer time.; softer and more quiet. It colours the trees en the shrubs and the leaves on the path in many different shades of grey. In me it gets quieter and more still as well. The moonlight that colours everything in these beautiful, soft shades of grey invites me to look and listen inside as well, to the grey shades of my own body and soul.
I was at the IDFA festival today with my colleague coaches, where we saw the documentary “Sheep Hero”. A hard headed sheep herd who has to stand up to cutbacks and reorganisations. You also saw straight away that his stubbornness was the reason that he couldn’t make any choice other than following his heart’s direction, untill the inevitable end. We heard and saw him making his stubborn choices and we could predict the end of his story from the start. You can do that because you have some distance to him. I wonder who can predict my choices, who can already tell the river of my story; gently, softly, with all the twists and bends. Who can tell your choices and story; gently, lovingly, almost without questions?
John O’Donohue writes a beauftiful piece about making choices in his book ‘Walking in Wonder’
“That is one of the fascinating things in going through the world -you wonder at destiny, at the way that life actually flowes and moves and grows. I have a great suspicion of of an awful lot of what is paraded as moral decision and moral rectitude and moral recognition, I think there is a beautiful morality of possibility to be written, because placing all the emphasis on moral choice is very limiting. Choise is always about loss; you choose one thing over the other several things. And maybe the soul doesn’t want to do that. It is a very interesting question: whether in the course of your life, you had to choose one direction, if in actual fact, in the unknown area of your life, your other unchosen lives might not actually travel with you as well. Maybe one of the great surprises we will get in the wonder moment of after-death is that when we wake up and straighten up in that new kingdom, we will find that all our unchosen and unlived lives are there to welcome us as well”.
It’s an early Sunday morning. The first frost on the fields slowly disappears under a clear, cold sun. Geese huddle together. Enthousiastic church bells try to lure the last of the faithful to the service. In the forest, two woodpeckers signal each other from a distance. The last of the yellowing leaves hold on to the branches. It’s a very different atmosphere from what I remember from my childhood. The evening fell quicker then, maybe because there was less light and less business in the evenings, maybe because I was a child. The headlights of my bicycle beamed through the mist and the dynamo made a zooming noise. But the reception of St. Nicolas hasn’t changed. With my school class behind the band to the big hall in our village, where a few children, the very good or the very naughty were seen by St. Nicolas. I was never one of them, always with the majority in the back. Not that I minded, I wasn’t looking for attention. St. Nicolas was still a severe albeit just person and Pete was still the helper with the rod and the sack. I was more afraid of the severity of Nicolas than of Pete’s rod. And then, in fairy tales it is always the younger brother, the unnoticed and the servant that turns out to be the real heroe. At the end I would walk with a brown paper bag in which there were an orange, some ‘pepernoten’ and a marzipan frog to my aunts’ house where the adults were watching the first black and white tv set. The rope that I had dangerously slung across the road in front of our house in my youthful ignorance however did make into the Saint’s red book. In a house call he made I had to confess and promise never to repeat this. I then got a handful of pepernoten from Pete. Yes, Saint Nicolas was very Catholic in those days; do penance and receive a reward.
People now want change, I hear and see. People long for change and safety in an uncertain world, a feeling of home. For some that is going back to their childhood, for others it’s a place in society. I have no longing for the days of my childhood. My longing is for belonging and love in the world of today.
Yet I find beauty in the way people project their longing for and the safety of home on Pete. Not on Nicolas the Saint, but on Pete the helper. As in the fairy tales it’s the helper that becomes the symbol of everybody’s hero. An encouraging thought.
In the afternoon the suns slowly disappears in the lowering clouds. It gets chilly and a bit darker. The forest floor is strewn with fallen leaves, the same colour as the trees surrounding me. Sometimes it feels like there is no up or below, only my feet that intermittendly touch the ground tell me that there is a path. Now that I can’t see the sun anymore I easily get lost in the forest. All of a sudden I realise that I am back at the same point where I was an hour ago. I have walked in a circle, even with the red/white markings to guide me. Later, the autumn light turns to a milky grey covering the fields and the forest. Everything becomes one-dimensional. It brings me back to my walk through the vastness of Germany, three years ago. It was a deeply unhappy time. On rainy and even on cloudy days I felt the loneliness and sadness pulling me almost irresistably toward a desperate and dreadful void. I needed every ray of sunshine to distinguish my path. Lots and lots of sunshine and a big dose of willpower helped me get to Passau that year. Some days you really need the sun and your ego to go further than just walking, even if it’s a lonely journey..
The morning starts with a hazy sun over the heather at Hoorneboeg, the moors south of Hilversum where I start my walk towards Amersfoort, some 30 kilometres. Colours fade in this light, they become soft and diffuse. So different from the bright sun that lights everything up, that marks and distinguishes the colours. Today they mingle, interact. Today I feel the colours rather than seeing them. It makes me think of the how we often use the logic of words to differentiate. The flowing of the colours lets me feel and shows me how we may also use words to connect to a place where everything comes together in softness and oneness. No more ‘you or I’, no more ‘this or that’, but a place where that distinction is no longer needed, no longer exists. It is slow language, I notice when I try to use it. We are so used to use words for protection, for attacking, for differentiating; afraid as we are of loosing ourselves. Words that connect, that takes searching, explaining, hesitating. Looking for my vulnerability again and again because the connection can be so naked and I stumble into my protections so easily. Slowly I am learning it; the soft language, the nakedness and the vulnerability. Also in my masters study, where I am allowed to reflect softly and read a lot about inclusive language and servant leadership. I still get this feeling that sometimes it is being used as a method, an instrument. Words like ‘excelllent’ and ‘outstanding’e are used a lot and that makes it sound distinguishing to me. (There may be a slight allergy towards authority and pride here on my side ;). A law in constellation work tells us that everybody has their place, everybody is unique and nobody is special. When there is a place for everybodey, for you and for me, then there is no need for distinguishing, then everybody is ‘excellent’. Servant leadership takes place where the connecting is, where softness and oneness are allowed.
The grey and the diffuse, the loneliness and the connection lie close together today.
The very last day of summer. There always seems to be a new last summers’ day these days. I am walking along the little river Linge, surrounded by orchards and trees on fertile soil, left behind from the times when it was still flooding the surrounding lands. It’s a friendly river now, we have tamed its’ wildness long ago, the way we tamed much of the water and the landscape here. Water is the source of all life. It feels like coming closer to that, walking here. Water can be clear and calm and inviting. It can also be frightful and destructive, as we can see in the images from Indonesia these days.
Things that are tamed have their energy controlled, lessened. I wonder, where does the original or excess energy go? Does it evaporate, does it disappear? Or does it go underground, to the shadows, as I’ve learned from my own taming in childhood. To come out with destructive force, when we least expect it. We have for so long been trying to tame this source of abundance. To rule and regulate. I recognize what it brings us, this taming; more prosperity, contentedness, longer lives. But does it also have a downside? Is it possible that we control largely out of fear for death and sickness, where they are part of life? I compare the flow of water with the flow love, also an energy that we have tamed by subjecting it to rules and regulations. If you take away the flow, you take away some of its’ original and unique qualities. It grows stale, like a pool of water that has no outlet.
This glorious autumn day also has an uneasiness about it. It scares me a bit how I almost take this for granted, this beauty and golden autumn, knowing full well that this is also a sign of things not going well. The ploughed lands are dry, grey from lack of moisture. It’s not how it should be, we know and are told daily in the news. The beauty of the day also makes me feel uneasily privileged. It’s always the ones in power that seem to escape the brutal facts of life, and it makes me one of them. How about the people affected by floods, earthquakes and hurricanes? It makes this day feel like the calm before a storm. What can one person do about this? Oh yes, I support in little ways. I hardly eat meat anymore, buy seasonal veggies, but they are still wrapped in plastic. I don’t buy vegetables from far away countries, but I do fly to the UK regularly for work and study. My heating is off most of the time (which is easy with this type of weather). If I can’t solve it for myself, I am also not going to criticise other people for doing what they do, but it’s a hard to solve dilemma and I know we are not doing enough to stop the storm.
It would seem like mother Earth is revolting against us. We have tamed too much, maybe. Maybe there is a price for taming and preserving. Christianity holds the belief that we are stewards of the earth, but we behave presumptiously like her masters. In the Andes, according to the ‘Pacha Mama’, people see us as her children. I like to think we are intrinsically part of her. Much like Goethe wrote: “Would the eye not have sun like quality, it would not be able to see the sun”. Or take our dreams, where our feelings are translated into images for us to understand. Maybe in the same way our senses experience the earth as a translation of the energy she and us essentially are. Mother earth will survive, I don’t doubt that at all. But will we? Will we still be here to admire her beauty, be fed by all she has to give and show us?
It’s not hard to imagine with the prospects of climate change that the Riders of the Apocalypse are near, according to some. Yet I would say they are not coming to us from the outside. They are inside us, coming out of us, like the untamed parts of ourselves. In contemporary language, their names might be righteousness, arrogance, contempt, and indifference. We all have parts of them inside us. You can’t fight them with their own weapons. All you can do is bring untamed softness and love into the world.
At the end of my walk, on a terrace in a small town, I treat myself to an icecream. It’s good to be kind to oneself as well 🙂
We have been promised warm and sunny weather today. Maybe the last warm day of the year. I took a whole day off for this, a whole day of idling through the dunes and the forest. It is still early when I arrive, a bleak almost full moon shows up in the western sky. There is quiet, all you hear are birds, the forest breathes morning. My lower back and leg muscles enjoy the movement and my spine happily moves along.
A couple of kilometres down the path, a man is intensely busy taking pictures of a bunch of mushrooms. He lights the scene with a lamp. I can hear the repetitive click of his camera. How many pictures can you take of a bunch of mushrooms? He doesn’t notice the walker. A schoolclass also comes into the forest, under strict guidance of their teacher telling them to behave, I imagine that if they still want to have fun today, they just have to be naughty. At ten o’clock I hear churchbells on the wind, they don’t sound like funeral, more like wedding bells. The path is strewn with early and unfullgrown acorns. They are still falling where I walk. How big is the chance that one will fall on your head? How much chance do you have that a bird shits on your head? Or that you get a tick bite? None of which has ever happened to me. The one of ticks may be viewed as a small miracle, seeing as how I walk so much and rather carelessly through shrubs and forests. The chestnusts are also early this year. I gather them for my chestnut dinner later, in November. They are also rather small thanks to a hot and dry summer. A summer that as far as I am concerned could have lasted till Christmas. On the free roaming path for dogs I meet my eternal adversary; dogs and especially their owners always get to me.
Thoughts come up; about the choices that I make, about how I am going to shape this intensive masters that I started, about customers that I still need to contact. They come and flow away again. Some emotional ones stay and ask for a bit of attention.
In the afternoon I find a nice hill where I stretch my legs and almost naked enjoy the warmth of the sun. There is quiet around me, only in the far distance can I hear the shouts of children. It is a conscious joy; this could be the last warm day of the year, after all. Late in the afternoon, when the shadows grow long, a stillness comes over the dunes. A deep stillness, a golden stillness in which you don’t have to think or judge anything anymore. I listen to it. Slowly it permeates my skin and settles in my inner being.
I leave the dunes before the setting sun reaches the point where loneliness begins. And luckily also just before a large gang of loud (male) MTB’s makes their presence known.