Changing of the Seasons – Changing of the Mind?

After a long summer, autumn is here now. This summer had had a slow start in the Netherlands, and when the summer holidays ended and school started again end of August (I know, really early – but that is 6 weeks of summer holidays for you…) many people said there had been no summer at all. But as soon as the kids sat in their classrooms, the weather switched to warm. Switched to hot even. We have had the hottest September since they started recording the weather (1901, if you are in for the numbers) – during the second week we even hit the 30 degrees Celsius. And so we had beach afternoons after school – my kids were even swimming in the North Sea, which they had not done the whole season – picnics in the park, water fights in the garden.

But it seems that at one point the weather realised it was behaving strangely. Temperatures have been going down slowly, and one can feel a difference in the air. We will still have 20 degrees today, but the mood has changed. Autumn is here.

So I spent some time in the park last Saturday, sitting on a bench on my own, looking at the trees and the grass and the sky. The leaves start to turn yellow, but I think that is more because of the dry weather we had (I have been watering my garden the last weeks, something I normally don’t have to do in September). The sky was still very blue – enhanced by my sun glasses.

I sat and looked and thought.

It seems that especially the change from summer to autumn touches something inside.  At least inside me. If affects me differently than the other seasons changes do. When winter changes into spring, I am all bouncy and happy, start working in the garden, dream of sitting outside in the sun. When spring changes into summer, I am busy hunting for my summer clothes and the sandals in the cellar, drag the hammock outside and eat salad a lot. During summer I hardly find time for writing blog posts, although I continue reading posts (luckily not everyone is as lazy as me). But when it gets cooler, the air smells of falling leaves and there is that special chill returning to the evening, I start getting philosophical. Suddenly my mind wakes up and starts asking questions. About life as such and my life in particular. About ageing and priorities. About what I am doing with my life.

Is it because the change to autumn already hints at the next change, the one to winter? Not that I don’t like winter – I think every season has its charms, although if I could, I would probably shorten winter a bit. (Maybe having three months of spring and autumn each, four months of summer and two months of winter?) But autumn and winter, they always remind us that nothing lasts forever. Of course after winter, there will be the next spring… but what if not? Would we still like it, embrace it?

As I said, autumn brings thoughts into my head, they tumble around like the leaves in the wind.

But as I look outside, the sun is edging around the neighbour’s house to greet me. It is a bit chilly this morning, but the sky is still blue, in the afternoon it will be pleasantly warm again. So let’s enjoy the beauty of autumn, while it lasts (I am sure we are in for enough of the grey-misty-cloudy-wet days too).

Summer was good. Now choose autumn. And be.

 

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The Sun is Shining!

Yes, the sun is shining today – and it looks like MySestina has nominated me for the Sunshine Award 🙂 Thank you!

It does remind me of those chain letters that where around when I was in high school (yes, written on paper, can anyone still remember them or am I really getting terribly old?)… but it certainly is one of the nice ones. (Not of those that went: if you do not send this on, some terrible accident will happen to you… I always threw does away, and later, when things like that came via email, I deleted them without finishing to read. I do not like being threatened, thank you.)

Anyway, it says that you are supposed to answer some questions from the blogger who nominated you and then in turn nominate some bloggers and think up questions for them to answer.

The “criteria” (which sounds a bit formal) for nominating someone is that the person inspires you and brings sunshine into your live. Ok, here we go, my inspiring sunshine-bringers:

DebWasHere – e.g. On Stars and Bright Lights – for telling great stories full of depth and fun and sometimes sadness.

Filosofa’s Word – e.g. What Have We Become? – for sometimes making me laugh, but always think.

A Holistic Journey – e.g. Lessons From the Dying Brain – for being scientific as well as poetic and really sharp.

Writing for Myself – e.g. growth – for sharing her deep thoughts, for honesty (and beautiful pictures too).

Of course there are more blogs that I could list here… but I guess the whole thing is about choosing some of them, right?

Here are the question I was supposed to answer (plus the answers):

  1. Are you a Hero? – Seriously doubt it. Probably more Miss Caution. But, you never know, depending on the situation, I might choose to become one... 😉
  2. How does writing help? – Writing provides a way out for all those words in my head. Otherwise it gets too crowded and the words get grumpy. Can’t have grumpy words in your head, can you?
  3. How far could you go to be heard, to be recognised? – Not very far, I think. I don’t like to be the centre of attention.
  4. Do you think we are alone in the universe? – Looks like there are a lot of other people around anyway, right? No, seriously, it would seem arrogant to think we are the only ones. But they probably do not want to have anything to do with us.
  5. What is an achievement? – To get one step further than you already were. To widen your horizon. To choose.
  6. Do you read as much you write? – More.
  7. What inspires you? – Different lives, new thoughts.
  8. Do you follow to lead or you lead to follow? – I try to find my own path. Anyone who wants to follow is welcome.
  9. What could you possibly give to the world? – Two great kids, plus my feeble little efforts to be helpful and friendly to anyone around me.
  10. Do you let your failures drive you? – I hope not, but they do tend to linger in my mind.
  11. What’s the one thing that you would you change about this world? – Have everyone feel respect towards everyone else and act accordingly (ok, that is already two… but still)

Now comes the fun part… I am allowed to think of some questions myself… (I guess that is really the reason for those awards: that you can fire your questions into the world!)

  1. Where do you get your best ideas?
  2. What is the most annoying thing that can (and will) happen while you are writing?
  3. How do you handle 2. ?
  4. If you look at your list of priorities, at which number does writing come?
  5. Are you happy with that number?
  6. What situation would justify to sacrifice your computer with all your writings on it?
  7. If you could choose a belated birthday present now – anything! – what would that be?
  8. If you could “beam” one person to your side at this moment, who would that be?
  9. If you could choose one person in the world that would be “beamed” to an inhabited island, who would that be?
  10. If you could recommend one book, which one would that be?
  11. Do you like the person you are now?

Looking forward to the answers you guys come up with! 🙂

Ok, the sun is still shining, it is late in the morning here in Europe, and I choose to go out and mow my grass now! 🙂

Have a lovely sunny day, in spite of all the things that are on the news – which I deliberately have not read yet. That will come later. Now I will enjoy the spring day.

 

… and still there is hope

If you look at the news these days, it is easy to feel pessimistic. So many things seem to go wrong.

There is war. And terror.

And so many people in need.

There is the everyday stupidity and racism and self-centredness.

Not even mentioning the way we are polluting this planet.

 

And still.

Today many people around the world are celebrating Easter, a day of hope and love and life.

In spite of all the terrible things happening, let us not forget the good things. We need to live our ideals, need to continue to hope and to love.

Let us make this a good day. To show everyone that we are not despairing, that we believe we can make it happen.

Happy Easter!

– And tomorrow, let’s get up and fix this mess! If everyone starts with the little things right in front of them, we can achieve a lot.  🙂

 

 

Judgement

Normally this blog is the home of my random thoughts. I don’t put anything here that you would describe as “fiction”. But yesterday evening something happened, probably triggered by recent events. Words bubbled up in my mind, forming a sort of story I felt needed writing down. They bubbled up in English, so I wrote them down that way.

So, here you go, a strange little piece of I do not know what. Probably just a piece of my mind.

 

Judgement

A flash of lightning.

Darkness.

Greyness. The man whose finger had been on the trigger slowly got up. He looked down on himself. Although he could see his clothes, arms, hands, could recognise them as his, they had a strange shadowy quality. He looked around, at the bodies lying on the floor. Men. Women. Children. A little boy.

The man took a step forward, and the surroundings began to fade, turning into mist. More grey mist. In front of him, the mist solidified into a shape. Dark robes, a hood concealing the wearer’s face. The shape gestured with one arm, while words turned up inside the men’s head. “Come.”

The man hesitated. “Will you lead me to paradise?” he asked. He had imagined this differently.

“Paradise?” The voice in his head was flat, expressionless. “I would not call it that way.” He lead the way, and the man realised he had no choice but to follow.

They walked through the grey mist.

After a while the dark shape stopped  He stretched out one arm. “Go. Your questions will be answered now.” Strangely enough, this did not sound reassuring.

The man took one more step and saw something taking form in the mist. It seemed to be a swirl of movement, a mixture of dark and light. Power radiated from it so strongly that the man did not dare to move any closer.

“Are you…?” he asked timidly.

Again words turned up in his head.

“I am.” The man was not certain if that was the answer to his question or just a statement of facts.

He almost did not dare to speak. “Will you reward me?”

“Reward you?” The voice inside his head sounded almost surprised. “You have destroyed life. Why should I reward you?”

The man started to shake. “But it was only the unbelieving…” he began, but the voice cut him short.

“There are no believing and unbelieving. There are only living and dead. I cherish life in all its forms. It needs to be respected and protected. Not destroyed.”

The man stared at the thing in front of him. It was moving more quickly now, and he thought he could see different shapes, human ones. Male and female, old and young, tall and small, with dark hair and light hair, with white skin and dark skin, and everything possible in between. He tried to concentrate more, give the shape some more distinct definition, but instead of clarifying, it seemed to become even more varied, including shapes of animals and even plants. It had began to pulse in the colour of the rainbow and now the shapes began to fade, leaving only dancing light.

“What will happen to me?” The man was confused and scared.

“I will let you see”, the voice answered. “I will give you a shred of my knowledge, so that you can see what you did. You will see why it was done and what the consequences are, the small ones and the bigger ones. You will see the whole picture and you will also understand your responsibility. This will be – your reward.” A wisp of rainbow-coloured mist trailed around the man now, and were it touched him he faded. After a few moments the rainbow around what had been the man dissolved, leaving a small spinning shape, rapdily changing forms.

A scream pierced the mist.

 

The little boy walking besided the robed figure stood still. “What was that?” he asked. “It sounded scary.” He hesitated. “Is someone being punished?”

The hood bend down a little. “Don’t be afraid.” The voice seemed softer. “That is just the moment of realisation.”

“Realisation?” Still the boy did not move.

“When you suddenly understand everything. Don’t worry. There is nothing for you to fear in this place.”

They walked on.

A little while later the robed figure returned alone. He walked, then stopped, turning his head as if waiting.

Laughter cut through the mist. Pure joy.

The robed figured nodded. Then it walked on.

The Beach and the Power of Calm

Today I treated myself to another walk on the beach. It was a bit cold, but sunny, without wind, which is rare. There must have been some wind active further out on the sea though, because the waves rolling in were quite high – much to the pleasure of a lot of surfers who did not seem to mind the cold at all.

As it was a normal weekday morning there were not so many people on the beach, just some solitary walkers with their dogs, a few couples and even fewer mothers with small children in rubber boots who tried to play tag with the waves. The surfers were all out in the water, from the distance they looked like seals in their wetsuits.

I walked for a while, looking at nothing special, just feeling the warmth of the sun on my back. When I finally turned around to head back I walked a bit closer to the water line. The tide was low, so low that first I thought it must be at its lowest. But when I stopped and watched the coming and going of the waves I realised the water level was still sinking. There were a lot of fresh sea shells lying around, and of course I started picking some of them up. I never leave the beach with not at least one or two special ones, or an oddly shaped stone. I kept on looking, saw the water flowing out of the little sand pools, trying to get back to the sea. Now and then one of the bigger waves refilled them a bit, but all in all the beach was growing bigger. You could actually see the sand getting drier where the water had left. It did not glisten so much in the sun anymore, growing darker and softer looking.

I stood and watched and felt calm. Where all attempts to meditate regularly fail, sea and sand easily succeeded. I stopped thinking, I merely observed. I was.

 

 

We, the fortunate ones

There are things you know on a theoretical basis, they are like a background, just part of your general view of the world. But sometimes, the reality of them hits you in an instant. I just had one of these moments.

Husband and I were sitting in the kitchen and enjoying the laziness of a Saturday morning. We had just finished breakfast, but lingered on, with a last cup of tea and the morning paper. Entrance Older Boy, telling us about some science news he heard – the theory how the moon used to be a part of Earth and was “born” when another planet hit Earth. As we talked about it, the word “isotopes” fell and needed to be explained. When I got up from the table, Husband and Older Boy were bent over a picture of the periodic table. I left the kitchen smiling.

And then the thoughts came: How fortunate we are. I mean, between Husband and me, we got the world pretty much covered. At least the world that needs to be explained to children up to teenage level. Very cliché, Husband will do better with mathematical and scientific topics (although I am not a complete loser in that area either), while I can provide a lot of info about things like literature, history and art (and fairness commands to add that Husband does know his share here too). Issues of current politics and society we try to do together.

My point is: our children can come to us with their questions. We are fortunate enough to have the knowledge and the urge to explain, to show and to teach. What we do not know (loads of things, of course), we can look up in an instant. In this house, ordinary homework often sparks discussions growing wider and wider circles.

But how many children are left alone with their questions? How many, if they don’t understand what they read in their school books, can only ask their teacher (which does not mean that asking your teacher is a bad thing!)? Even in our privileged world I can sometimes see it in the homework projects other children bring to school. You can tell it where the parents are involved and where the children plod on their own. (Not that I mean the parents should do their kids homework, or even help too much. But you can see in which families the whole project was discussed broadly, ideas shared, alternatives offered. You just see it.)

I am happy and grateful we have the means and the time to do this. I love to explain the world to my kids. But today I am also very aware that we are living in a bubble. I love my bubble – but oh would it be wonderful to let it expand over the whole world.

 

Everyone out there in the snowstorm – hang on!

This is really weird: I walked around in sunshine and mild temperatures today – the little bit of “winter” we had in the Netherlands (meaning a few degrees below 0 Celsius) was washed away by the rain yesterday. The birds are singing, there are loads of green buds in my garden, and I have the feeling that spring is on its way.

And then I switch on my laptop and look at the news: snowstorm in the US…. definitely not looking like spring over there.

So, everyone across the Atlantic, hang on tight! If I could, I would sent you some warm weather to make all that snow melt… but as it is I can only send some warm thoughts.

Take care and be save!