31 Aug

Freedom. Ah, perhaps one of the most questioned topics….  Janis Joplin, spiritual texts.  But what is freedom… really?  I suppose it just depends on who you ask…

I have been in the Netherlands now for about two weeks, and I have to say it has grown on me.  It has a sweet and simple essence to it and it is a pleasure to be surrounded by bicycles, canals, cows, sheep and of course windmills as part of the daily landscape on any average day.  Time here the past few days has resumed a moderate pace.  Marijke returning to work.  Me mostly staying by the house except for a walk here, a bicycle ride there.

A few nights ago Marijke invited two friends over for a Reiki exchanged.  I witnessed the rhythm of the evening as it was explained to me before hand…  Coffee, tea and something to eat… (strawberry pie for the non-sugar eaters… everyone but me…), then upstairs for Reiki share (for non-Reiki people, simply this includes gathering around a Reiki/massage table and taking turns giving and receiving Reiki…), and then return downstairs for more socializing and more to drink… some wine perhaps… and more snacks too.  A different beat from our Reiki shares in the States, less formal… and generally no tea and snacks served…

Her guests and friends for Reiki were a friendly married couple and it was a fun “dutch” experience for me.  They mostly indulged my need to speak English and we talked and shared and laughed about what was true in the States, what is true in the Netherlands and in Europe.  Marijke almost fell off her chair laughing when she heard it was not uncommon in the States to sing the National Anthem at “important” events.  This just doesn’t compute to her dutch mind… it is even a little ridiculous…  And flag bearing and waving, well perhaps just a little less regarded here in Holland.  They do, they said, when they remember, fly the Dutch flag on the Queens birthday.  That’s sweet.

Nationalism, the topic turned, has a bit of a different flair here in Europe as well.  According to my intimate conversation with a select three Europeans, there is still a significant degree of sensitivity to ideas like nationalism since the impact of the Second World War.  It is fine to love one’s country… but perhaps there is a fear, a concern of taking that too far… An example was offered of being in Ireland where an Irish man started singing his national anthem with pride.  There was also a fellow there from Germany and when he was invited to sing his anthem, “Germany above all… above all in the world…” there was hesitation… even perhaps, disgrace.  It certainly puts a different context on history to be in the countries where the atrocities of WWII happened… something that over in the states we are mostly isolated from…

But alas, Europe and the States are not all that far apart in some ways.  American culture has leaked into European culture and you see it everywhere.  Sometimes with a chuckle.  And at times, a little disturbing… Just today I was walking around the nearby shopping area and heard Lionel Ritchie “Say you, Say me” being piped in through the overhead music.  And the neighbors have a dog named Neil… named after Neil Diamond.

As the pace here gets slower and Marijke’s work schedule gets busier… it seems it will shortly be time to leave the Netherlands.  Or at the very least depart from the generosity and comfort of Marijke’s home.  We discussed this briefly today.  It will soon be time to go.  And the idea of being some place else, some place new brought to me… well, excitement.  Cool… something new… what’s next?  Could this feeling be something like… Freedom?…

Ah, it’s the adventurer in me that often excited by the spirit of something new.  But I have to admit I am not always smooth in this transition.  I can recall times in the past when something has come to a close… being delighted by the feeling of the possibility of what is next… something new… and then stricken with anxiety wandering through the uncertainty of it.  Well, it’s a way perhaps… a way to waddle from point A to point B… meandering through the uncertainty.  But perhaps this time will be different… a gentle shift from what is now to what is next.  A new country perhaps?

Which brings us to the original theme when I first arrived here in the Netherlands to stay in Marijke’s home… that is “go where you want to go, do what you want to do… we are loving you!”  Freedom.

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