No lesser God

They call them ‘challenged’ and when confronted, eyes will lower, and  feet will sidestep, voices hush and some get nervous, a slight panic even. It strikes me, in all these years of education, we have never learned how to behave among people who are a little bit different. It is not hard to understand why we react so defensive to everything that is a tad little bit away from the ordinary. Gays, immigrants, homeless buggers, gypsies. Stay out of my castle, go back to where you came from. Go home. And we lock ourselves up in our stone brick castles and we throw away the key and we putter on, unaware of the beauty that lies beyond our selfish, self-content, hypocrite, pitiful, miserable, vain, little lives.

And then my daughter invited me to a play, where half of the cast are a little bit different.

And the two halves begin to play together and she is a nymph dancing on a water lilly and she sings in a mesmerizing low voice, and conjures up a storm that fans out over fields and mountain tops, until it lands in a far and unknown kingdom,  where it shakes the barley and where it wakes, from a deep slumber, Pasqualis, the colossal and tremendously wise King of Dawns.
The King lifts his head, and then his hands, and then his all mighty body. He twists and turns to find the source of this siren’s song. The voice leaps over his groping hands and jumps down his ears into his head, where it dances on for fourteen days and fourteen nights until the King can take no more. He sends out his scouts to find the owner of this enchanting song. Enchanting? Bewitching? What lies beyond, the King does wonder. And when at last the news returns of promised lands where all are equal and none forgotten, where wolves sleep with lambs and the time is now forever, the King decides without a quiver: ‘ to just DO it” and orders his page to saddle a horse. Without goodbye’s to queen or princess, he departs his kingdom and rides his steed out of the valley of Dawns. He crosses the barley and climbs high mountains and enters into the deep dark forest to let his life begin again.

And the plot unfolds and I look at this mighty King and how he dances with my water nymph, in perfect circles,  in perfect balance.  And the rest of the group chimes in and they play and they fight and they growl and they stumble and they huddle and hush and howl. And seamlessly, in perfect unison, two halves become a whole.

Applause. Of course, well deserved. And then  I see some tears, and I understand them well. For even though I am not sure about one God, I am sure however that there can not be two.

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Berlin

I’m on a plane to Berlin with a suitcase full of questions. I didn’t pay overweight even though the questions were really heavy.  When I studied veterinary medicine and was treating pets I gauged myself completely irrelevant. I wanted to treat world hunger, not a dog’s flea itch. And then I specialized in livestock parasitology and became a buffalo doctor. And after that I went into the pharma business and brought new medicines to all corners of the planet. Eventually I saw less and less animals of sorts and increasingly more people of sorts. And along the way I solved some of the questions in my bag while adding others to the pile. One specific question posed itself increasingly louder and became increasingly harder to answer.  To stop its nagging and gnawing at me, I decided to travel farther and work harder and meet even more people of sorts. And I met many people who were arguably very important, and then I met many people who were arguably very rich because they had always been arguably so very clever, and then I met arguably happy people. OMG! How arguably  happy these people were and what arguably interesting lives they all had!  Pitiful poor little me! And then I spent sleepless nights and weeks and months trying to be just like them;  I stopped saving the world or anything or whatsoever and focused hard on being very important and having money and happiness and pretending to be oh so clever.

Yet the question lingered.

And here I am sitting on a plane to Berlin. The city where my mother was born on the eve of Crystal night and where my grandfather held her tight,  crouched under the dining table, while bloodthirsty animals of sorts ran havoc in the streets below. And I was thinking how incredibly relevant it was that a grandson would go back there and work and dine and sleep in these very same streets and that a grandson could make his voice be heard in this very same place that had tried so hard to erase us, to deny us, to wipe us from existence.

And two seats away from me  I recognized a young Belgian musician called Stromae, who is famous in my country and well on his way to become famous in the rest of the world too.  And just beside me sat his manager,  Dimitri. They were friendly and easy going fellows and we started talking. So they told me about showbiz and I told them about buffaloes and about pig business and in the end our jobs didn’t seem to be too different.  And we talked about our travels and I had seen more than them but they had been seen more than me. And we talked about our children and I had more than them but they were just starting. And then I thought about Berlin and about my grandfather and I told Dimitri that I was proud of him and proud of  Stromae because they had united Belgians of all races and languages and beliefs. And he thanked me and he brought his hand to his head as if to support an idea that was too heavy for words alone. And suddenly, there it was, leaving his lips and hovering midair between the palm of his hand and his forehead; the question that continued to weigh down my luggage ever since I left school twenty five years ago. Dimitri had almost whispered it, more to himself than to me:” It is all about how to keep the passion!”

And I will continue to travel, searching for relevance and meaning and I will meet people of sorts and new questions will come and some will get solved and most will never. But to know the young and the bright around me sharing this same quest with the same hunger and ambition is just great! It is simply and not at all arguably “Formidable”!

Alors on dance!

Black hole

There are no doors in a black hole

Only nothingness,  blackness and gravity.
It must be very scary to fall into as there is absolutely no way out.
It is like falling into a mirror. Not through it, to the other side of it, but into it, into the inside.

Imagine you would see your friend fall in, reaching out to you while he gets sucked in further, his outstretched arms reaching for your outstretched arms, and all your fingers can touch, is the cold, cold glass.

Black holes scare me much and there are three lessons I’m trying to teach myself so I can steer clear from them.

My first lesson was the hardest but I think I finally have it down! It is “to never chase your shadows”.

The only  useful rear-view mirrors are the ones on a car. Gone is gone, done is done. Cherish the sweet memories and bury the bad ones. The good ones adorn your dreams while the best thing about the bad ones is that they belong to the past.

The second lesson I’m in process of learning right now is “to live from project to project.”

As long as there are new projects to realize there is a future to be had. Yes, I thought I had to build a cathedral so that I would be remembered. Now I understand that even termites are better builders. Their constructions surpass our wildest experiments, we are mere ants compared to them.  Now that I understand that, and I curse myself that it took me this long, I  let you keep your houses and your careers, your titles and your money. I now know that I chased them only for hapiness but that they only bought me comfort. Now I’m going to turn the tables around. I’ll take that bit of comfort I worked so hard for all my life and I’ll use it to to buy me what I really need for my soul: a sun setting over the Marmaris sea, to follow the  condor’s flight over the Golan heights, to greet the giant fish in the blue ocean and to kiss the snowy mountains of the Alps. I haven’t been around much and I am not a great adventurer, I know that, but I feel privileged and grateful for for every chance I get.

Finally, I’m still a long way off but I will learn it, I will learn ” to die a happy man”.

I remember a moment in younger years when I was quite ready. A moment when I realized I had accomplished some childhood dreams. A moment just before the rest of my life caught up with me.
I hurriedly tried to find some new dreams to chase, but what is prepared in  hurry, is mostly shallow and meaningless. At last, I became hungry for real dreams again, and hunger sharpens the mind.

So here I am, on the road again. I have chosen my companions, I have readied my bags, I have mapped the course.
I’m ready and when I die somewhere along this way, I know that I will die a happy man.

Have you never felt it, flying over the snow covered mountain peaks, shining like a thousand suns into the clear blue skies above? Some days are good days to die, even if you live on for another hundred years.

So if you ever walk past big pools of murky water, with surfaces full of dark shadows that mirror nothing but itself;  be weary and stay clear and remember;  there are no doors in a black hole.