Category: down by the river

Love what you love

Retreats are wonderful things. I mean the ones where a bunch of people go to a beautiful location for an intensive experience of something or other, with lots of togetherness. I’ve been on quite a few. From summer art camps to meditation/yoga/martial arts retreats across Europe. Now I’m finally ready to stop forcing myself to sign up for them. You see, being in a group drains my energy and if I’m deprived of the time I need to restore that energy, I get ill. Surrounded by so many happy campers, I’ve always felt there must be something wrong with me. If only I would be stronger, less sensitive, more relaxed, I would be able to keep up with the others. But there’s nothing wrong with me. Where does it say that growth (or enlightenment) can only be found in this intensive group setting? I understand now that just because something is good, it does not automatically mean that it is good for me. To each her own way and her own prayer. Or as a beautiful voice once whispered in my ear: you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. For me that is doing a little practice down by the river every day.

Whispers on the wind

As a child I was very intuitive. I instintictively knew things, and often had premonitions. But growing up my intuition got drowned out by other voices. Being an analytic philosopher didn’t help. Because I couldn’t frame any of it in logical terms, I didn’t know how to explain it. My inner voice was still there, telling me things, but I no longer listened to it. Einstein once said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” I was a living example of that. But last year I read the beautiful book A Still, Small Voice by Echo Bodine. Once I embraced my inner voice, it became louder. Sometimes it’s so loud that I find myself shouting back: “I hear you, I hear you!” I guess it wants to make sure I never ignore it again. Now that I’m learning to trust my intuition, life is much simpler. Things just happen without effort. Not only did it guide me to the sweetest creature, I found a new home within two days. For the first time in my life I no longer seek advice from others to make decisions. Why would I? I have my own inner wisdom.

When destiny calls

Kung Fu Panda is one of my favourite films. There is so much wisdom in it, most of all about destiny. Watching it over and over again, destiny and kung fu became one and the same for me. So I joined a kung fu school and believed it to be my destiny. I devoted myself to it and even trained six times a week for a while, giving up other things in the process. It was only when things went pear-shaped (there are no accidents!) and I stumbled into a capoeira class that I realised that I’m in fact not a panda and that kung fu is not my destiny. With the clarity of hindsight, it’s obvious that it’s not the right art for a raccoon like me. Even though I loved kung fu, it always remained separate from my oak tree. Training didn’t make me a better artist. Capoeira, that’s a different story. Now I’m learning how to fight but also to play, dance, sing, make music and flow so freely that it inspires my creative work in ways I’ve never experienced before. It runs through the fibers of my being and connects everything in my life: photography, stories, drawings, dance, music, meditation and martial art. When passion and purpose align like that, it’s your calling.