Gypsy of the Soul

5 Sep

It is a rainy Monday morning here in Alkmaar.  I am reminded it is the beginning of the work week as Marijke is off at her job. The weekend was filled with an out-of-town adventure… as well as some soul-searching…as I am leaving the Netherlands this week.  There was a balance of enjoying time in the Netherlands, in the now, and exploring the inquiry of what is next on the journey.

Saturday was a trip down memory lane for Marijke as we visited the town where she attended college, Nijmegen. A jewel of a town just kilometers from the German border, it is rich with history as well as culturally and architecturally stunning and fulfilling. Around 2000 years old, Nijmegen has architectural remains and artifacts dating back to Roman times.  But it strikes a balance of feeling rich and rooted in history and alive and vibrant in the now.  As we arrived crossing the River Waal, I learned from Marijke that during WWI, the Germans tried to invade at that river crossing the bridge.  The Dutch met the Germans midway and ultimately stopped them from invading any further.

I had a few hours to explore on my own while Marijke attended to her own plans, and the town invited me in.  I wandered the river until I found a cobblestone road, pulling me uphill to the center of town. I was greeted by a Saturday outdoor market as well as the sounds of drums filling the street as there was a Samba and Salsa festival that weekend.  I went where my feet took me… and found a fabulous Thrift Store!  And later to the park near the old water tower with locals speckled throughout the green lawn enjoying the beautiful summer day.   I sat in the sun and drank in the park, the grounded earthy feeling of its history and strength as well as its creative spirit.

Later that day I met with Marijke and her nephew and his girlfriend.  They live in the heart of Nijmegen and were proud to share their historical but independently spirited town.  With a university just outside of the center of town, it is brimming with liveliness.  We dined together at an Italian restaurant that had been there since the 1940s and then an evening stroll through the city and… more Samba and Salsa drifting into the night air.  We returned late and tired… ready for a good night sleep.

And Sunday… time for self. And a little reflection.  There is one thing I am coming to see…in this gypsy life of mine… Being a gypsy is not just about meandering, just wandering from one place to the next.  Seeing where the next opportunity lies.  It is also about learning, exploring and beginning to be a gypsy to my own soul.  Wandering in unknown territories.  Being open to explore something new within me.  Listening to the cry or even the whimper of my own being and what it needs… and in gypsy spirit… being willing to go there and explore.  Sometimes those places may look interesting and sexy.  Sometimes they may not.

Just days before leaving Marijke’s home in Alkmaar  I find myself feeling somewhat like the the illustration of the children in the poem Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.   In the image children are on the edge of a sidewalk floating in the sky… with a sign “the Edge” as the sidewalk crumbles off into nothingness.

I have been listening to those around me… and feeling the wandering and listlessness inside of me… I keep hearing from people around me words like intention and direction and questions like “what do you want?”… and still further  “it feels like you have no direction.” And wondering, curious where all of this fits in the world of flexibility, going with the flow and allowing things to unfold.  Looking for what it is that will ground me and seeking, exploring how to pay attention and see what it is I need and want… This passage seems to call for intimacy…. and not just an intimacy with others but an intimacy with the self.  Or at least a first date. A little coffee, willingness to say hello, spend some time and at least take a risk to offer something new, fresh, that is wanting to be nourished.

My time in the Netherlands has offered this to me… in has shown me what in my life needs attention. Like baby birds, beak open, screaming to be fed… and that being said, paying attention to where the hunger is… not just the need… but the desire and interest. I remember one time when reading The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, she offered a possible way as a roadmap to our inner artists…. notice the things that make you jealous.  This jealousy she says is something within you saying… I want that!  I want to play and to consider that aspect of self has somehow been… denied!  And explore even little ways to begin to offer yourself a piece of THAT!

There is still some time to be enjoyed here, rain allowing.  One more bicycle ride down the canal lined streets.  One more pass past the fields of cows and sheep.  And tonight… drum lessons!  Marijke is attending a class to learn jimbay and I will join her.  Yipee!  And later this week, we shall see…

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