The older I become, the more often I think about age, and being, and what it means to be me, right now, today. So often do I look toward the future, or the past. But as I know, and as I’ve more recently consciously thought: I’m more here, now, than ever before. But what happens one year from today, and what happens today that is of importance one year from now, are two very different concepts; one sticks, and the other does not. Often is it that I find myself dwelling on what may or will stick, and what will not. What is it that I do that makes a difference in my life, that of others, as well as the world at large. These are all very different enactments, yet they are all similarly aligned. What will provide substance to my life, exactly one year from today? Will anything I do, today, have relevance later? What matters and what doesn’t? Anticipation can be a potent weapon, and, or, gift. But how to use it? What to put off now for later? And what to draw attention to today, so that its presence or even residue is known or felt, so that its significance will later remain? These thoughts hold true for me for doubt, desire, friendship, and love.
It mystifies me to think that, for instance, as beautiful and joyous as my Grandma’s life is, I only entered into it when she was age 49. This is only a for instance. And so what impact do I have on others, and what impact do others have on me? As I age, I become more aware of my place within the world and into which spaces I would like to further nudge myself in the future. Who will yet come into my life?
Growing up in the Netherlands was a situation that I could have never predicted–granted there was indeed momentum on my part to make it happen; plane tickets for travels across oceans don't exactly just fall from the sky, I do recognize. But my being here–however it occurred and however it remains–I now see, is dependent on me, and absolutely no one else. No one has placed or will place me within the situations, and the organizations I inhabit, but me. I arrived into the world alone, though I did enter into it from another, quite literally. I’m not alone or independent–not literally or spiritually. My significant other means the world to me; yet I’m able to recognize that this person is not part of me me, literally and unfortunately–however much my love for him wished that were not to be. Having been at home alone for the past four days, I have been just that–alone. Periods of stillness does wonders for the thinking process, and this past weekend reaffirmed my conviction in just that–combined with feeling. Few revelations came from these few days–except, perhaps, that I’m much more confident and resolute than I have ever previously given myself credit for.
Living within the borders of two countries–with both also happening to be Great Powers, in the year 2014–which are separated by the Atlantic Ocean, has lent my outlook on my life, the globe, and the universe a whole new perspective, literally. Never would I have ever in the USA been able to glimpse back toward that country, as seen from afar, in order to distill its idiosyncrasies. Life in Amsterdam has allowed such a situation to occur within my life, and for this I am grateful. I now have a cultural fluency that is immeasurable in monetary value and invaluable to me. So much do I treasure being able to cast astray societal battles as frivolous, in both countries, and, perhaps, because when such a situation occurs–I now see–I was always able to retreat to the other, and dwell on how much more improved it is there, than here. No more. Yes, this back and forth is beginning to lose its truth as applied to my life. I’m no longer a fledgling Amsterdammer or European. No longer do I straddle two countries, one here and the other there; instead, today, I stealthily hover above both the Netherlands, and the USA.
So much is there within me, the desire to create, to express, to move, to contemplate, to debate, to make. Humans have so much energy within them–think of all that food–yet so often are we unable to get that same energy out. Sometimes I wish I had a paintbrush with which to paint my life–not literally, but with wonder, and amazement, and happiness, and love. Humans are made to reproduce; not be happy. Any happiness we have we create ourselves, I have both read and, through myself, reaffirmed. It really is true. I create my own happiness and indeed, I’m quite good at that. Yet I notice that when my significant other is around, a piece of my lights up in a way that would never occur, should I be literally alone, as I recently was. So often do I light up myself, but rarely is the light within me radiated to my exterior; how is it that I can harness the energy within me to share and express my enthusiasm for any given subject? With my other, that’s easy–as ours is a language that both appreciates and anticipates, physically and intellectually. But how to express such wondrous light to others, beyond my significant other?
The strong sunlight makes everything gorgeous these days; I spend most of my mornings in the city, running through it. About four or five times a week I'll wake up, put on my running shoes, and head out and about and around all corners of the city, though most always east of the Amstel. Running past gables, over canals via bridges from the 1920s, as well as those of the 1990s; past flamingos at Artis, and past domes and other elements of architecture inspired by the ancients. Throughout most of this year, my bike has been out of service, trapped in the basement; I had its flat tire replaced only to have it go flat a few days later. This process repeated a few times until its original maker took it back, and then gave it back, with it having had a makeover in the meantime. It now has a glamorous shine; ting! Before the fix, the tram I had had been the best of friends. It’s reliable, affordable, and slightly chic–especially in the snow. But what the trams of this city do is cut off the world from just beyond their windows, to their passengers, with the world outside turning into a soundless live documentary with only the whispers of other passengers as its soundtrack. Cycling allows me to stop and smell the flowers–I enjoy passing under each branch, and up and over each bridge, with each pedal on these sunny spring days.
Amsterdam has been seeing more of me then, it would seem, in a vain attempt to reconnect with it as I come to cope with the fact that, while its vegetation and trees are still growing toward summer, the height of their growth is but a few weeks near. But summer feels so far away. But, soon summer will actually arrive, and then, the still supple leaves of ivy on my balcony will stem forward and harden into their largest of sizes for the year. Like the leaves, it would seem as if I’m preparing for a new season, a new start, a new beginning, and a new way in which to be in the world. Minus the hardening though; it's the opposite there: any rough edge that I may have had, is softening. So confident am I in my way forward, striding with such a charge while running–through the city’s streets, or through life–that I'm certain that the ways in which I’m incubating my thoughts, dreams, and goals all prove to be fruitful in countless ways, decades or years from today. I'm waltzing, in meticulously studied steps, toward the my vision of myself, both the self I would like to be, and the one I would like others to see.
To close, a poem from the Aztecs:
Remove trouble from your hearts, oh my friends
As I know, so do others:
only once do we live.
Let us in peace and pleasure spend our lives;
come, let us enjoy ourselves!...
Oh! that one could live forever!
Oh! that one never had to die!