Sunday, June 8, 2014

An Archaic Smile:

Here I sit, outside, on my balcony yet another time this year. It's my new favorite place in the city. Today the sun has been fully turned ‘on’, that is: the sun is shining and it’s shining bright! It’s as if the days have completely changed here in Amsterdam, and perhaps in more ways than one. This city has been cold and dreary throughout most of this year–there have been the occasional spouts of dry air and strong sun-shine, here and there; but for the most part the weather this year has been dismal, at best. Not so since last week; a tropical heat wave has hit the Netherlands, with the occasional short shower that passes in about an hour, just to cool things off, from time to time. All this had held true for about the past week. Though who knows where next week will take the country's, and the world’s, weather. It seems as if the days have changed in other ways as well, beyond their literal level of illumination.

Over the past three months or so, I have not been in my adored Amsterdam for perhaps half of those month’s weekends. This is fine, as my sense of separation anxiety is very developed and is therefore subsequently almost non-existent; my heart can pine and I can comfort it, because I’ve already done that before. And, Amsterdam should almost always be here when I return. What I was seeing instead, were the street of certain cities in Turkey, Scotland, France, and Norway–all of them harbored riches to explore. Seeing new surroundings with the same set of eyes is one of the best ways in which to open the mind–to new ways of doing and being–in my experience. When I’m in an unfamiliar landscape I stumble and tumble, never shivering or trembling about. That would have been the me of about 10 years ago on the streets of New York City; in my young 20s, confidence still forming, totally directionless yet chasing after the enticing and capricious flashes throughout that period of my life.

In less than 1,000 days I'll be 30, and my consciousness of that fact has worked wonders for my mind. It seems that time really does lend everything within one’s life perspective; to see things how they were, how they may have been, how they'll never be, and how they are now. What will I have to show for myself at the end of my 20s? What will my identity capital be? The first 10 years of a career has an in exorbitant amount of impact on income, says Meg Jay–and I am and will continue to do fine there–it's my fault should that ever not be the case. I'm determined, and determined to remain steadfast. But what will I bring to my 30s that’s not ephemeral, as money tends to be? What is it within me that’s of value 20 years from today? In an older post I proclaimed I wasn't interested in selfmyself, that was. But what I’m learning is that’s far from true. I'm learning to be conscious of myself, but not so much so that it stifles my personality or reactions to otherwise innocuous and delightfully engaging social situations. I’m learning that it’s ok to be stubborn, pragmatic; but that, simultaneously, those values can just as easily be pushed aside for others, should the need for such a situation ever occur. There’s no need to define or crystallize anything about myself now, or later, as everything is in a constants flux and flow.

Of the cities that I've seen strolled through lately, Edinburgh stunned me the most with its roughly refined charm, while oppositely Istanbul charmed me with its ancient sites and relics–some of those statues struck a chord deep within me. Most notably those with an Archaic ‘smile’; it just goes to show that for 1,000s of years now, humanity has been trying to make rocks (busts) smile, like humans–and that, in a very simple way, is very touching. It’s much easier to visualize antiquity and its daily life while looking at an artifact from antiquity while standing on the ancient soil of the Old World, in the Old World. Such an undertaking is clearly hard to do in Western Europe, and even more so, in the Midwest of the USA, for instance. Visiting Istanbul is key to understanding Western Art History; I'm happy that I've now been there and have seen the characteristics that make it so pivotal. Oppositely, up North, humble Oslo stunned me with its seductive yet rarely seen 25C sunny weather, which I enjoyed in the park with wine, and when not in the park, I flitted about through the mid-spring sun-drenched streets. Oslo is a handsome city situated at the end of a deep fjord, near Sweden; its sturdy streets and sidewalks are aligned with whimsical pastel hued wooden houses. Each is decorated with wonderfully exuberant ornament–so, in some neighborhoods, Oslo’s houses are a feast of vibrant color.

Back in Amsterdam, my balcony has taken precedent over almost anything else. Dry upon my return home last week, the ivy and grasses have been nurtured and restored back to optimal health, achieved with ample amounts of both water and love, with some new supports for the grasses here and there. That’s the thing about gardens; just like humans, they look fine if they're not made up, looking gorgeous and well tended. Yet they, like humans, look all the better for it if they are. A touch of glamour, it seems, never hurt anything: from a garden, to a house, to a human. The delights of an English garden are quite different than those of a French; one tidy and the other maintained at so that it straddles the border of tidy, and not. Like these plants on my balcony, whom occasionally need a bit of support from time to time, I too need support, it seems. And if I look around me, truly look around me–and over the past few months, flying away from and back to Amsterdam every other weekend, I've had plenty of opportunities to look down from above, back to my life below–I’m able to see that I'm surrounded by not only support, but also love. Ample amounts of both. Those who matter to me are those I keep close, and perhaps in the end they, then, number but only a select few; I'm relearning what I’ve already known for quite some time: that’s ok. Like my plants, which are growing steady toward the summer sun, which arrives June 21st, I too am preparing, growing, and strengthening for all that's to come this year.