07 de juny 2017

The magic of the 4 word STAY

Fraiser Island. Einzelgänger. Dispersa. Absent. Empanada. Peroxided, clueless.

Hit by the force of a very simple statement that haunts me constantly. That word that has the most impact on me, freezes my blood and gets me back to that Ferry ride to Cairns. That changed my outlook and changed me forever.

A four letter word: Stay.
Inspired by AFP's structure of her addictive "Bed Song" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sW4dwXXX7Q, the story of the word in key points that made me leave my birthplace in a cloudy mess of unmanageable emotions, as it does:

Exhibit A
You sit and enjoy the company of old friends. And it comes again. And you have to repress an incontrollable torrent of emotions that you are absolutely incapable of controlling. That controls you. But the brain kicks in to explain that. And fails miserably.

S-t-a-y

Exhibit B
Four in the morning. I get new audio message. It ends with the following words:
"I need you in my life. Please, don't go again. Please stay".
It burns my eyes, I am going to blow off from so much love. I can't manage how I feel, I have problems managing my emotions, I am somehow crippled in letting some feelings just be. I just can't deal with it. Because I don't know the way to make it stop. Because I am not ready, I don't have that emotional vulnerability to process it.

Exhibit C
Two days later. Sitting on the garden table. Girlie day. Beauty session. We are all giggles, 3 generations, the lightness of the being.
I might be so touched by the 4-letter word because I am the one with most impediments to comply...
Ouch, it falls on top of the audio message at 4 AM days before, like a recurring message I need not hear. I take a picture of her covered in chocolate, she takes a picture of me wearing a rubbish bag with gloves on. Laughs, it's about to come... looks at me and says:
"I feel grounded since you are around" "A part of me makes me feel safe" "everyone who knows me has noticed it". "I so would love you to stay".

You won't read this, I know. l though I rationally verbalised how deeply it touched me and managed to keep my face composed, taking the happy part of the statement.  You didn't realise of the background processes loading. Fraser Island, 4Am, emotional crippled chosen self-punishment to feel alive, even that night in Waiheke after watching "Being John Malkovich"... 
Because I would so love that very moment would be forever now. and because I know I won't...

....s-t-a-y

... For now. Until all my lives align in one place. If ever.

Ferry from Fraiser Island. I have just changed a plane ticket to fly off the same day, because I can't process the intensity of new discovered feelings. Because I had never believed the in the"stay" concept. Everything I was experiencing was so new and so scary, I had to go away. And then you said:
"I have never felt like this before" "I need you near" "please stay".

And I stayed, and I never regretted it. I was willing to stay forever. It seemed so easy.
And forever lasted what forever does, short, nothing is eternal. And only after I left again I realised how good it did to stay.
This word haunts me.

And that was all it took for me to do it. To stay, to stay committed to be there. To surrender to the urge to flee all those emotions before they sank in. You asked me to. And I stayed once. 
It was so easy. I felt grounded. I had an island, the peace of belonging, a life support.

I wish I could say that once. I wish I would mean it. I wish it could be real. I commited to stay in my soul place, tried all options, sacrificed career paths, sold my life to government rules and it didn't work.

Maybe there is not a place to stay. And that made me ponder of collecting all those stories of people who feel home is a temporary place to gather energies to move on. 

12 de març 2017

You are not going to get on the way to my happiness

It has been some solid weeks of unexpected showers. But also an opportunity to connect with strangers (Random acts of kindness, sharing a cup of coffee made on a camping stove while keeping shelter under the pouring rain. Two strangers: me, on the scooter, him, coming from a boat at sea).
So there is sometimes a bright(er) side of rain, which is always great to our friends, the trees. So at least something wins.
Museum days, reading, eating soul food in company and a lot of laundry that never dries. In a place where rain is not the rule, everyone starts feeling down and apathetic. Kind of like when Dutch experience more than 5 days of +25 degrees, unbearable heat fills all topics and they doubt if there is life beyond the shadow line. 

And even then, when the patience threshold reaches peak and you even walk away before parading at Mardi Gras, even then... The love grows. 
Sydney has been voted as one of the least exciting cities in the world and I like the bad rap. Unexcitement: more daytime activities and business people too busy to see beyond their suitcases. Ergo: get a liberal job and enjoy the quiet outdoors on office hours! 
Now that kids are back to school and backpackers move north it is time to continue my love affair with this city. 
My happiness finds a lot of happy places here!

I felt the dopamine. I was high on love. In love. Enjoying my lunch at the Art Gallery, seeing colourful parrots being cheeky. Absorbed, hoping the moment never ends. Butterflies, warm fuzzies and all the shebang.

And then something happened. I was happily collecting graphic evidence of my blissful time. 
Per below, I took a picture of a wall size poster of a young Warhol, part of the exhibition. It impacted me at first sight.
Right in the middle there was a lady eating a pie. I was only aware of her presence after taking the picture, but she was part of the moment, I guess.
I don't remember what indigenous group it was that has an issue being photographed or caught on video because they think you take their soul. 
The lady seemed extremely unhappy of being caught on camera and it made me think of that immediately (and I wandered off in my mind again while she was addressing me...) 
She was unhappy. I understood. I wish she would have stopped shouting to listen to me. We all have been caught involuntarily on someone else's shot. With the availability of devices and the frequency we record things it has become a common fact to have our souls taken. We are more exposed and we take it as something that has come with modern times. 
So I was with her. But I also was flabbergasted at her exaggerated reaction seen my kind predisposition. I came closer, I smiled rather incredulous of the absurdity of the issue and at ease with the simplicity of its resolution. I was going to simpatise and ask her about her day. But she went on, and I really lost track of the ongoing blurb (mind wandering off and wondering what indigenous group doesn't like pictures...). 
She must have had a bad day...


And then, still shouting she asked me to see the picture. And I showed it to her. At that point I had a chance to talk and I offered to delete it. And she obviously agreed. In an upbeat tone I asked her if she would let me photograph the poster without her on the frame, then. 
And the shouting began again: "Oh, so now I have to be out of the picture?"
An argument gone wrong. I went silent and walked away, picture undeleted. I had a moment to look around and see people taking pictures everywhere. I couldn't agree more with the lady. I loathed being on the other side. And, most of it, I was in such a loved up stage I wasn't able to comply any longer, because she interrupted my dreamy state with an aggressive confrontation.

And here is the happy learning out of it. When in a confrontation, my body gets very tense and I always avoid conflict trying to find many ways to give the other party part of the reason, as I know, it is all a matter of perception. 
If the conflict goes on personal attacks I do try to find what I've done wrong, but it haunts me. 
We all make mistakes and we will never make everyone happy with our choices. We all get hurt in some way from verbal confrontation. We can also decide how much we want it to affect us.
So here's that. I shook the tension, the guilt feeling and made my way to a video art performance. I managed to calm the bad stomach. The dopamine was gone, but I also stopped the adrenaline to take over. I felt calm and more focused and promised myself not to let me ruin the day. It wouldn't have otherwise. But I would have finished it to sulk on how things could have been dealt better. But I didn't. And I went on to the video exhibition and the Aboriginal Art.

And that's how it works. 



01 de març 2017

see with your heart

   
Life in Sydney continues, and now it is same old new at my then-place of residence in Vaucluse: Clairvaux. 
I once attempted to keep a diary of the life in this house, but sheer amusement and happy times kept me rather busy from writing about what a roller-coaster it was to share your domestic life with 18 people under a hilarious pseudo-tyranny.

I am not going to look back, not on this post at least. Demographics have changed in the house and it is quite interesting how millennials view the concept of sharing. But, I am not going to lie, many of the originals stayed in a two-dimensional quest to saving money and in the meantime purchasing all those things they thought they needed. 
The happy moments outweigh the different views and the meaningful connections have made my life much richer.

Yesterday was a meh day. You know, you sometimes have those. You don't jump out of bed in excitement and want to make love to the world. The only idea of getting up was too hard to bear. Although the weather forecast said it was going to be rainy all day the day started so sunny and gorgeous I had to listen to my inner voice say:

"This morning is a gift, you will miss such days"  

subsequently, I peeled myself off the sheets... rather meandrous.

I have set an Instagram account (@selvetchen) and I am keeping track of a visual diary to record my life on the other hemisphere. A dream that came true in 1998 and has made me feel part of this side of the world. But yesterday I decided to ditch the camera and make it a "see with your heart" day. 
Choice of running field: The Hermitage walk with the idea of going for a run + swim - the perfect plan to wake me up.

I still have sore hamstrings since "the ripping" in September and I had tired muscles from the run the day before. The road was all downhill, thus heavy on the joints, so I decided to walk instead. 

All that I saw... 

Mushroom viewing! After some evening storms there were huge mushrooms everywhere by the trees. But, being in OZ, they couldn't be just regular shrooms, they had to be weird psychodelic phantasies. One of them opened to show an interior worth a sci-fi creature, but I couldn't google out what I saw. I did find a video of the colour-changing one. It was so much fun. Look!

quite amusing!

On my way to the beach a storm hit us. It was beautiful to stand there and see the sand get wet, my clothes get wet, the sea change its colour to a pearly grey, people running, the smell of the sea lurking strongly under our noses, the misty pavement. 
I took shelter in the old bath house and continued my trajectory. On the way to the southerly beaches I found a couple of big lizards and many baby ones, which are oh so adorable I always feel compelled to talk to them. 

When I arrived to Hermitage Beach the best surprise was there to greet me: The fun dance of a school of fish. 
As I was sitting on the dock, watching the clouds dissipate and the sky start its reddish dawn ceremony a baby manta ray decided to emerge and dance among the fish. I was there witnessing it all, thinking that the best things I have enjoyed have never been caught  on camera. 

I had been listening to Anita the day before talk about some holidays she took to Greece years ago and how dead the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas are.
While watching a manta gracefully swimfly with fish I thanked again being on this side of the world and being able to see so many living beings I unfortunately can't see in my sea any more. Go figure right in the city. 

Back home to a chai and no footage. Indeed:

                                           on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur

20 de gener 2017

Life in Sydney. Life again

I sometimes wonder why I need to keep these memories. Writing puts my thoughts in order. It grounds me, it rescues images and adds the emotions. 

On my arrival I was in the airport with bits left of the post-Christmas munchies, looking for some Aussie yum to bite on, despite not being hungry at all. I had had processed sugars throughout Christmas and -maybe not belonging in this post- I can tell by comparison the devastating effects in your body and your appetite. In the infinite time I need to keep enjoying life one of the things I want to give back to the community is my body-mind wisdom. I might not have the heart-mind bit all too well adjusted. But my body-mind communication (and cognitive ressonance) is quite impressive.

I rode the eternal ride from the airport all the way to Bondi Junction. On the way I thought how quickly one adapts to the known environment, using my opal card again, which is called OV in NL, which is called T10 in Barcelona. 
In the Junction I bought a pair of sunnies and reactivated my Aussie number. Ready! 

I went down the road from the bus station to be picked up by my Angloaussiesraeli family in a quiet café, which was closed. I was hoping to grab a deliciously vegan friendly coffee.

Ever since I arrived I have noticed the good heart of people living in this city. While waiting to be picked up I was running out of battery and a guy just opened his office to me to pplug the phone in. He was happy to leave me there while sorting a delivery. I find it natural as my natural state is to trust and be trusted, but it is not always the case wherever you go, so worth mentioning. I have had countless shows of random trusting kindness and I must say that part of who I am is thanks to the lessons of trust learnt in my communal life in the Vaucluse area. 
One reason to fill the love tank and to feel that I belong here. 

My Anloaussieraeli family arrived. It was amazing to be picked up and see all the girls in one car, love gushing into the tank. 

We spent the day catching up, we went to the library to get some books and we had some yum dry-frozen strawberries coated in dark chocolate. 
I went to visit Anita afterwards. I was determined to stay awake until the sun went down. My voice was getting weaker, although when we saw each other we couldn't stop talking. We had to leave it for another day. The cousin showed up. Amazing how little I see him but how closely related I feel to him. It has been years of connecting with the Gisborne-Wellington whanau. 
In a heartbeat we agreed to arrange a family lunch shortly. I had no energy left. 

My following days were filled with jet lag and exhaustion. In short I was preparing myself to take more pictures, more videos and deliver proof of the reason why life here suits me like no other I know. 



17 de gener 2017

The faces of joy

My life in Sydney has restarted. It has restarted me, after doing a system upgrade.
I utterly love my life here to a level I can't describe. How many times I think I should have my family and close friends here... Damn! I should have been born here.
I am on Winter hiatus, still recovering from Jet Lag and my mind /update 2 weeks post-arrival/ just sort of stopped doing funny things.
****** This bit is some linguist geeky talk, so skip if your brain starts to swollen up. ****
Until way past jet lag, my head was still in different language zones. I am such a useful case for research... Because I had slowly recovered what we call the "European Accent" = undefined English learnt from all English speakers, native or not--, I could hear how I would pronounce certain words depending on how often I had used them in different countries. I just heard myself slip up Dutch-influenced words/grammatical constructions, fluctuating from Kiwi, Aussie and European at random. I was doing this analysis while having lunch and chatting up with my Aussie/Kiwi Whanau. 
I had just aarrived. We were four people, four accents: a neutral Kiwi accent (the equivalent to mine, but down under version), a full Aussie accent, a full Kiwi accent and my hard to define European accent with a fragmented Jet Lagged brain across linguistic zones. 
Then listening to my interlocutors, matching up and adjusting (the sounds, sentences and words I uttered were worth a case study).
 What an amazing brain of immersive/kinaesthetic learning I have! I have to give myself credit for that, my grandmothers both died. They understood little linguistics. 
Our kind is rare. It takes years of crossing language zones. Constantly. 

******** Now you can go back to reading more emotional writing, next posts will have more anecdotes, promise, there are enough ***********

So, geekisms aside, I can't stop crying these days. I don't know what it is. It must be sheer happiness and it is scary. I remember how I didn't shade a tear of sadness on the prospect of moving back to NL and I am blissfully, maybe intentionally, uninfluenced by it in a sort of "don't mention-don't feel- fashion.
I go on with my happy self without thinking too much that this is my only life and I need more time so I can enjoy it even more. Maybe others don't feel this way, or don't relate. Maybe they are happy just so, because they only feel home in one place and my tears are a consequence of global awareness and chronic Fernweh, damn!

I realise, in OZ, I reconnected quite quickly to my usual activities and people with less difficulty than in Europe. I guess I was only gone a year here, so things don't change so much that you have to find your space again. 
It took me a while to do so in Amsterdam. I always join initiatives on my own and often feel awkward if it is about regular group meetings, because it seems everyone know each other, I am the smiling intruder coming from nowhere and I don't know how to measure my level of sociability or enthusiasm, if that is a concept. I stopped thinking I am too weird to fit in, because I am weird enough not to fit fully anywhere, but shy at times to make it a smooth transition. 

Something has changed, though... And I am meeting new people. And experiencing the craziest coincidences.

I opened up an Instagram account, following a friend's advice in trying to befriend the camera after a Christmas conversation. It has helped to share with close friends what my life looks like down under.
Instagram ID: selvetchen. 
I am not a good photographer, but it is my approach to a visual diary. Bear with me, I am not used to it. I have to force myself to take the camera and take pictures, but once it is done, then it will be a visual memory... 

Since my arrival I have been non-stop giving and receiving love to and from friends, and the uploading pictures has won time to the writing, as it takes less time and reflecting. And right now I move from social gathering to social gathering. It is Summer after all.

But so many fascinating things have happened that I need to share, that I'll try to write short posts with the day's experiences/learnings.