Tag Archives: Tree

Why onmipresent consciousness isn’t that unlikely

If you think about it rationally, there is no reason why consciousness should reside within the brain and cannot be outside of it. Surely, numerous neuroscientists would instantly prove me wrong here, but they have two main problems. 1: like myself, they look upon this question from a limited perspective, that is, from within the limitations of their own thoughts, projections and perceptions and 2: they search for consciousness within the human brain, assuming they’ll encounter it. Of course they will. Yet that won’t exclude its presence outside of it. And that’s not their expertise.

Now, we say that if we sleep, and I mean dreamless sleep, we are unconscious. But is it possible that we think exactly the opposite while we’re asleep? That during sleep, we perceive the waking state as the unconscious state? That we simply forget about everything we lived during daytime? Or worse: that we do remember it, but from our different state of mind, perceive it as nothing? Just like being asleep appears as ceasing to exist when we’re awake? Could there be a different world where our body lies inside a bed while we are awake here? If there was, how would we know?

A dense network with a filter
Consider the scientific status quo on how the brain looks. It’s an enormously dense network of cells with micro-telephone cables, including numerous interconnected regions where basic functions support more complex ones. The system is kept active by constant influx of oxygen and other building blocks, and outflow of waste materials. And where is consciousness? According to neuroscientists, it exists as a result of the continuous interchange of electric signals of the brain. The theory seems somehow similar as magnetism emerging from an electromagnetic coil with electricity going through. But one of the mayor neurscientific theories is that a filter is responsible for our higher awareness. That’s the mechanism which selects a fraction of the signals reaching us through our senses. By that, it turns our perception, our consciousness, into something we can grasp.

This premise fails to acknowledge that by defining consciousness as the filter that makes the world understandable, you say that the way humans are perceiving the world during their wakeful state  is the one and only ‘conscious’ way. Some bypass that problem by calling it ‘higher consciousness’. While I acknowledge the presence of such a filter, I challenge the view of calling it ‘conscious’ or ‘aware’ by asking: how would the world look without it? Isn’t it likely that our consciousness is just ‘a state of consciousness’?

Neurologists say it is hard, perhaps impossible to find a structure in nature as intricate as the human brain. That it has gone through aeons of evolution. They are right. The way they are right, however, falls entirely within the timescale and the spatial scale in which that very brain perceives. We have evolved a style of perceiving that has made our own style of perceiving look like the ultimate style of perceiving by confining itself to a selection of it all. And we need this limited consciousness to keep ourselves organized and by that protect it from going extinct. Smart fellas we are.

I’d posit that this filter forges our egos, but not so much the fact that we’re conscious. The signals in our brains, the clouds of electricity that run from one part to the other and back, may not be structured in the same way outside of our heads, but they are just as present everywhere else.

What else could be conscious?
A tree that stands with its roots in the ground, branching into the sky, constantly exchanges signals, transferring charged matter from above to below and back. Its roots as well as its branches touch those of other plants. As much as the cells in our brains and bodies, these plants and other organisms need to constantly exchange with each other to survive. Is it truly unlikely that out from this continuous buzz rises some kind of awareness?

A galaxy, constantly revolving, has bricks and pieces bumping against each other. Each of the stars continuously radiates all kinds of wavelengths in the direction of its fellow stars. Could it not be that out of that motion spins a thought now and then, so big and so slow that we will never even notice it?

Is it not likely that each species has its own filter, is its own filter of reality? Ants constantly gather substances from around the nest, transporting them to the core. They process them there, then bring them back outside. Meanwhile, the inside of the nests is a cacophony of smell and touch, all eventually leading back to that one queen. We know the chemicals are there, we know the pathways of the ants, but we don’t know how it is to live inside. Could that queen be communicating with other queens via the ants in her nest? In the same way as words stand between human communicators?

Or how about cities? Is it not possible that Amsterdam, existing for over 700 years, has learned? Could it be that all beings inside it compose something bigger? Something that chitchats with Paris and London? How can we be certain that it does not, when we send airplanes, cars, boats and electricity up and down every day? Could we say the same for businesses and other organizations, which, in their way create a filter by bringing the same people together day in, day out?

How complex should structure be in order to give birth to awareness?

Dreamers
I personally find the presence of consciousness in every bit of matter and energy more than likely. I’m fascinated by the idea of ‘dreamers’. That we are all just dreaming our way into reality. That there are dreamers dreaming the sun and the moon, others dreaming wasps, chairs, the cosmos and the atoms. That none of these dreamers are truly isolated or alone, but rather clouds of consciousness, reaching into one another. Sometimes aware of their connection, other times not. That consciousness is not just us, but a sea of dreamers, stretching out in all directions and dimensions. In that view, those who dream our fates would be our gods, and we would be the gods of those whose fates we dream.

 

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Trees’ party

Recently, I was standing at a party in the dunes with my friend, the sun was slowly rising, the drinks running out, we just collected firewood and we were having a conversation about what life really is. We discussed that if you look at the earths history, land plants and trees have actually emerged quite recently. Knowing that, it suddenly becomes visible that we aren’t that much worse than the other species around. We’re just a bit quicker.

People forget that plants consume rocks. A forest is essentially a layer of dead plant bodies with trees on top of them, which slowly but steadily empties the earth’s crust of its vital mineral content. These minerals slowly disappear into the rivers, then disappear at the bottom of the sea. That way, entire forests slowly make their environment unsuitable to themselves. If you want to keep a planet intact, the best you can do is to sterilize it (and remove the atmosphere and the surface water). No plants, no animals, no change. Just rock.

Nowadays, we humans tend to believe that we are bad, because we blow up the planet. Yet if you compare our behaviour to that of plants, we’re not that different. We pull minerals out of the earth, and work them into a nurturing ground for endless forms and shapes of art, housing, thought patterns divinities and so on. We aren’t doing this over the back of nature: we are nature doing it. Isn’t that what life is? Reshaping the environment into a whole lot of other beautiful things?

While standing at the party in the dunes, my friend exclaimed that life itself is indeed a party. It appears in a vast nothingness, grows, hits an apogee, then starts disappearing. Trees dance, so do we. They consumer rocks, we consume them and all of us knew in advance that one day, the music stops and the lights will go off. It’s fine that, parties don’t go on forever, they’re just parties.

With or without us, sooner or later all life here will die out (by the way, I’m not suggesting we’ll even get close to killing life itself). Does that matter? In a way yes, but in a bigger way not at all. We should be grateful we were once alive. Of course, we as mankind have the option to stop behaving like that one drunk guy who entered his drinking rage, making an enormous mess finishing the booze on his own while heading straight towards a huge hangover full of regrets. That would prolong the fun for others. We could do that. But would it essentially make any difference? I don’t think so. Life will go on, and sooner or later we will all feel great at a new party with a filled up fridge.

Thesis Spiritual Experiences in Nature

For those who are interested, I wrote a thesis in 2011 on spiritual experiences in natural areas in the Netherlands. I got an 8,5 for it. I have have written an abbreviated version for publication, but it was rejected for one or two good reasons and a whole list of quite silly ones. My intention remains to publish it when I have more time. Whenever that may be.

Here it is:

Havik2011ThesisSpiritNature

A Chakra perspective on Evolution

I wrote this text originally for the Ajna forum on January 5th 2010. I have adjusted it a little.

The beginning? There never was. A misconception of the human intellect. Since she is our home, since she gives us ground to live, let’s start with earth’s awakening.

Rocks, fire, water and air; she brought their spirits into one. Little ones started spiralling, exchanging and flowing along. In the water first, but they quickly reached dry ground.

Plants, rooted in their standing place, breathing light and air, eating rocks and drinking water, developed the spirit of the ground. They vaporize earth mass. By growing and dancing in the wind, they have become our base. Their roots to earth are ours. They are our OM, our chakra of the ground.

Walking out of the waters came a new kind of being. Nerved. Choose well or die, that was its quest. Select by moving around. But use the earth, eat the plants, be attached to her. And reproduce: enjoy! Senses arose to help this choice. So developed the sacral chakra.

When ground was filled, a limit reached, a limit to the growth. The ego had to come in play, the will to overcome. Trees fought for light, beasts for terrain. Among, between, there was war to teach us where to stop. Struggling for survival, power raised, the Plexus Solaris got its form.

Among wars and fights, Gaias bigger ones found the power of communal love. In groups, we could reach greater heights. The work was in the heart. The knowledge of all cells: “Together we are one” now grew among the bigger ones. Cultures formed, dividing what to eat. Groups that loved, avoiding fall-apart. Herds arose, bees unite and lions lied in prides.

Now that battle was not the only option anymore, and animals and trees stayed close, new ways had to be found. A realm of signals was discovered in our throats. Noises, charged with meaning travelled up and down the lands. Civilizations attained new levels, by telling and by listening. Behold the birds, the apes and ants. We slowly formed new minds. And then came the morale.

Humans rose, with in their heads: mind´s eye. They killed, destroyed, controlled it all except them very selves. With time they learned about the fish and trees. They learned about the heart and soul, they did it for us all. They saw the past, and that which is to come. They saw it two, they saw it one, they saw that all at once.

And now, when new ones are conceived, they have to live it all again. From little fused cell they grow to creature with a brain. They leave the womb into the void and start: motionless base. They eat, they sense, deny and love, learn speech and thought: get lost.

When one learns, all learn, even if so slow. Together with the cats and birds, together with the plants. Together with the rocks and flames, with water and the air. Together we are Gaia’s growth. And then, maybe one day a creature comes that grows a crown, and opens heavens’ earth new ground.

Conjuress of Dreams

She lives on a mountain, among the clouds. You know whom it concerns. She has us all under her spell. Let’s hope her intentions are good.

It was a hot night when it came to me. Do you know them? Those nights where dreams and wakefulness collide. My life had been a mess so far. I lacked touch. Nobody likes to work behind a screen in a multi-storeyed prison for the soul. Not me at least. I realised that many years later. Things had come alive.

I lived in a dark house. It wasn’t big, but even so there was a room I didn’t thread for years. Filled with memories, filled with mess. Remnants of a life I’d never asked for, yet I could not part with them. A fellow knocked one day. White beard and on his head a black Jaguar’s face. He wore long layered garments: black, white and grey. Sinister though he may have seemed, a spark lit up his eye. There was no formality, no respect and no hesitation. He entered my forbidden room; despair pulled me in after him. He showed me things, these objects of the past. He showed me pains that were long gone. The door was open, just like that. No way could it be shut.

I woke up, my brother called. My mom had died that night. Some force tried to turn me inside out. Filled with guilt I cried about that dream. I cursed this wicked man in robes for opening that door. Hated her on the day she left, for all that she had done.

But how can we be sure? A woman with a gift like hers is bound to go corrupt one day. If she owns us and the darkness owns her, then are we not all doomed to befall?

Dreams are no strange thing to me; I have them all the time. But there was something about this one that caught my attention. Some light that it expressed. It was a vividness inside. It revealed a power hidden not just in the dream, but in my life. Does it matter if I describe the events to you? I honestly don’t know.

A day like all others. I was walking down the street. I live in the city, you see? Picture the streets. Take a city where you feel at home. My sister called, I picked up, she said I sounded strange. Different. More powerful or something. I told her it was because of the dream I had that night. Just like I’m telling you now. She asked what it was about. But I did not answer. She kept asking. What difference does it make? My dream is my dream and it means to me what it means to me. You’d be distracted by the words, by the shapes, by the feeling. You’d give it a twist of your own. But the dream was not yours. I could perceive beyond these shapes and thoughts. Not that they weren’t there… at all! But my relation to them was different. Lighter. I could see through tables and mirrors, through layers of reality to look deeper inside. A different kind of knowing I would say, more visual. I do believe that I saw God that night.

My brother sounded manic that day. I wouldn’t know how else to call it. And do you see? He’s in a hospital now. Delusions of the severest kind. Drawing orbs on walls where he may not, with little pictures inside sometimes. The words he says make little sense. One moment everything is beautiful, the next moment everyone is evil, and the next… Nothing. He sits there; silently, unmoved. For hours! I cannot stand to see him that way. I hope he’ll be better again. It started with that devilish dream.

Should we take it from her? She is doing harm. Have you seen how they ended up? Have you seen them all? There are many. Have you followed them? Do you understand? We should take it, before it’s too late.

It takes courage to cross the jungle on your own, especially for a girl. Courage and some madness perhaps. But I did. The journey was long, timeless it would seem. Past snakes and monkeys. They were listening to me. They sometimes did what I wanted them to. Yet they attacked me. Sharp teeth. Then I fought them off, in rage. They’d stop when I calmed down.

Some trees were impossible to chop. I’d have to climb sometimes. Grab lianas and swing from branch to branch. I was determined to cross these woods and would. I’m sorry for the plants I hurt, for the bushes I broke, but I had no choice; this was a one way road. Then, the landscape changed. It went up. I still don’t know what all these cables were, more and more of them, until all my eyes could see were thick black ropes, all pointing to the horizon. I followed them.

A triangle rose as I approached. It grew bigger and bigger and at some point I must have realised it was a pyramid. A voice when I came near: “enter only when you are ready, else you’ll burn in light”. Isn’t that a weird offer? I came all the way, crossing all this trouble, and then this voice offers you a choice? Of course I entered! I could not even consider the question, so full I was with purpose and drive.

It was a maze inside. Challenges alternated. I saw flames. I felt them. Gentle changes in the pressure of the air. They burned. The red flame burned my clothes. Crossing it left me bare. The green one burned my flesh and bones, the blue flame burned my mind. When I finally got out, I was alone with nothing more than soul.

I heard the voice again. “You are ready now”. I am not sure if what moved next was the pyramid or me. A blinding light shone through. It was a dream that led me here, but now I’m not dreaming anymore. I can’t wake up. This is it. This is where it ends.

Where do we look for her? We could track her traces in the skies. If she does reside in the heights, then it should be easy to find her that way.

What drives a man to take a boat and cross the Atlantic by himself? I didn’t know when I left. But I can tell you, being out there on the big blue, being out there on your own brings you an answer. The waves support a lot. Yet if I’d have to tell the truth, the biggest answers came in my dreams. I wouldn’t be able to explain why these dreams occur so intensely, but I definitely have more attention for them now. I have the time to contemplate them. Or better: I am forced to be with them.

In fact, my decision to take this trip was triggered by one dream in particular. At first I thought this dream was very clear, very literal and easy for me to understand. I had to sail and on my own. But as I lived the choice, as I sweated blood on my boat, the whole perspective changed. I did not take this trip because I understood the meaning of this dream; I took it because I had to figure out.

In the dream I stood in front of a … woman. Under her, enormous waves whirling her robes. I am still not sure if they were made of water. I cannot say. I was compelled. It might have been liquid fire, such potency I sensed in her. Many things occurred silently. Little events of my life passed by, little stories I’d forgot so long ago. Other lives, as if they were my own. She bowed, all that time she bowed opening her arms to me. And then, suddenly, she looked up and watched me briefly. Briefly though she pierced deeper than anyone ever before. Beyond my soul. One word was all she said.

“Sail”

Looking back I may have left to deal with that look. I must admit that I miss it. I’ve never seen it on earth. But it seems such things aren’t meant to last. I left, free to deal with it all. Deal with it at the four winds’ pace.

Keep trying. We’ll find her. We have to. We’ve looked for centuries. I began to doubt.

Arguments for Forest Protection

Do you know what the problem is with nature conservationists these days? The way they treat arguments.

I was once present at a discussion during a course on wildlife management. Students were talking about how to conserve Wolves and Foxes and Bears. At one point it went towards reasons to conserve nature. I said that people do so because they love nature. I wasn’t taken seriously.

Throughout the years, I have been taught to give arguments on why one should protect forests. CO2, biodiversity, erosion, water storage, filtering… You name it, I’ve heard it. They taught me that I should never start a paper about forest protection without an explanation on the arguments to conserve a forest, because otherwise policy makers do not get it. That approach is wrong.

By giving arguments we create an impression that there is a discussion going on. Have you ever heard someone say: “I hate the forest” or ” Dunes, I despise them” or “Let’s bring down those mountains”? There is no discussion. We should protect nature at all costs. Entering this discussion is admitting doubt. There is no doubt.

By giving arguments on why forests should be protected -which is a different story than how– we invite policy makers to dismantle such arguments and counter them. And of course they will; if you think long enough you can argue that Hitler was a pretty decent guy. But the fact here is: there is no discussion.

Of course we should protect our last forests at all costs! Questioning that is questioning the core of our existence. To hurt nature is to hurt ourselves. Of course we should protect it. Of course!

Stop playing this game, society! The only reason you cut trees and destroy bushes is because you think other people want you to. Explain that to the lives you take! Explain it the soul you hurt every time you do. Your soul.

It’ll be glad to hear the arguments.

Awards

It takes some guts for a birch to grow its first branch. So too for Benny. While our little seedling pulls all his courage from the ground, scents travel back and forth through the forest. Seraph the Oak, on the open space a bit ahead, has a message.

“Fellow trees from the forest, the tree awards are about the take place once again. It promises to become a match like no other: the winter was strong and spring has brought us a fair balance of rain and sun. The conditions were perfect for growth and development, so the quality of the top trees will be very high this year.”

Of course, the old oak himself did not benefit that much from the favourable weather. With his years, his growth is slow and constant. He does not compete in the tree awards: he won all awards there are to win hundreds of years ago. As the forests oldest, he now only prepares and presents the contest.

The trees of the forest are exited every year when Seraph spreads the competitor’s scent. Who will be chosen this year? Will the most beautiful tree be Margaret the Magnolia again? Some spread Wilbert the Willow stands a chance for his pose near the pond when sun sets. The most robust tree will go to one of the older oaks, but will it be William or Abraham?

Benny does not mind who wins what. He is growing his branch. Young though he is, he already found a spot on the south east where he receives a lot of sun. His parents are proud and constantly show off to the trees around. “When he’s older, he’ll win the prize of the most adapted tree” says his mom. “Yes, and that will help him grow better, and he will win the broadest tree prize”. Birches usually don’t go for the price for the most robust tree. They stand little chance against oaks and the exceptional baobab winner.

Slowly but steadily Benny pushes the top of his branch out of his trunk. At first, it hurts a little to his thin young bark but his inner urge persists and he keeps pushing. The branch wants to go down: it has no support. But Benny the Birch would like it to grow upwards. He turns it a little. And back. And up. It’s like a game with a pull to the ground. Not aware of the big events that are about to take place.

The Tree Awards have become the most important social event of the year. They take place from dawn till dusk when the day is longest in the open space in the middle of the forest. Trees can’t walk there of course, so they send chemical signs, which are received by Seraph the Oak, who then signals back the decision of the forest community. None of the trees in the forest know exactly how it works but it yields outcomes every year and trees don’t really care about objectivity.

Nor does Benny as he carefully gives his first branch shape. He has no concept of an eye catching branch, he does as he feels fit. Grow a little. A branch. Left and right and back again. Into the sky he reaches. Happily stretching out his cells. Yes. He likes it. It is fun to grow.

“It is important that we grow” echo the scents through the air. “We should all be as close to the sky as we can. This is why we originally sowed the Tree Awards.” Over time, of course, they added some categories so that more trees would feel they could be part of the game, but the greatest tree award is without a doubt the most prestigious award in the forest. Some say that without these awards, trees soon forget to grow. There needs to be stimulation, or the forest might get lazy, which cannot be the Intention. Tree Awards are the summit of forest society. Its ultimate expression. The pride of our age. And be honest: where would we be without it?

Benny is about to grow a leaf on his branch. Leafs are quite different and they take a different effort to grow. Benny knows how. He’s done it before. You start with a little packed ball. In it, you grow little nerves, connecting all the parts of the ball. Main nerves and side nerves. It’s important that you grow them such that they don’t stick together. Once you feel secure about the nerves, you connect them with green tissue. Then, all that’s left to do is that you push. You pump fluids into the nerves and they’ll unroll into a leaf and you enjoy the light. Keep pushing and it’ll grow bigger. Benny likes to grow leafs. They make him feel good. He grows a few more.

Leafs are important in the Tree Awards. They show the quality of the tree that holds them. It is common knowledge among trees that leafs are vital for growth. With dark green leafs, more sugars are made and more energy can flow. But dark leafs get hotter than light leafs and they burn more easily. So there’s a risk involved, which makes the whole story even more exciting, particularly for adolescent trees. It wouldn’t be the first time that an audacious young one takes that little step too far and ends up with fiery leafburns.

That’s not Benny’s concern. His tiny leafs are always lighter than those of his older brothers and sisters. His parents are proud of anything he grows. If a leaf would grow too dark, his parents quickly grow a branch above, just to make sure he is ok. Benny doesn’t realize that.

Winners of the concourse receive a fair amount of nutrients. Other trees will transport it in their direction through their roots or drop some leafs when the wind blows towards them. Being winners, it is trusted that they’ll use them wisely.

Benny takes his joy in growing another root. Roots are funny because the ground is full of bugs who tickle from below. To grow a root, Benny has to pierce the soil and dig between their homes. The bugs don’t seem to mind that much, they simply move aside. Benny is happy about that because he likes bugs. When he’s big, he’d like to house some ants.

Dawn arrives. “Fellow trees of the forest,” Seraph’s scents set off a chain reaction among every Birch and Beech around. The hedges listen silently. Their competition does not take place till fall. “The Tree Awards have started. Please prepare yourself for the first vote”. Except repetition and amplification of Seraph’s words, the forest remains silent as can be. These words are always deeply respected; no tree dares to bring in anything now. Except Benny. He just hurt himself on a thistle’s thorn and now he’s crying for his mom. Mom strokes Benny with her branch. But she is not as soft and caring as usual. Never mind. She pushed the thistle away and Benny is free to play again.

To interpret the voices of the forest is a skill that requires hundreds of years to master. There are very few who can. You can imagine the great awareness needed to listen to all the trees in the forest at once. Those who have that awareness have great responsibility. Seraph is one of them. He has developed a sensitivity few can imagine. It’s as if a part of him is present at all spots at once. All trees of the forest feel him. That is why he is assigned this important task. Of course, he is not alone. Seraph relies on a network of older trees present all through the forest. Together, they quickly digest the messages of their surroundings and pulse the results back into the air.

Even at his age, Benny adds to this networking cloud of consciousness. Few take note of his infantile, unstructured expressions. His parents and grandparents perhaps, but barely, during the year’s most important event. Benny does not mind, especially now that a butterfly landed on his new branch. Benny is not that fond of butterflies. Flappy creatures he finds them. He doesn’t know yet how destructive their larvae can be. For the moment, this butterfly has no interest in Benny. He just flaps around, leaving Benny dizzy at the spot.

“We will start today,” Seraphs clear and strong chemicals spread “with the golden bark award. Please place your vote about who you think deserves the award of creator of the most remarkable bark of the forest”. The award for the most respectable bark was introduced not so long ago by a community of cork trees, just down the hill. Cork trees adore the bark like no other and they would do anything to do part of it for the forest’s assembly of respected items. Soon after this introduction it turned out, unfortunately, that their view of the most respectable bark differed somewhat from the forest’s public opinion. No Cork tree ever won the award. “Trees and Treeesses, the vote was expressed”.  Even if this is not the most important award these words raise the tension enormously. The trees of the forest know that the awards have begun. “And this year’s winner of the golden bark is…” this is the most decisive moment of the awards for the Corks. “Quinten the Plane”.  A small cheer from a corner of the forest. “This years bark prize was based on Quintens exceptionally beautiful pattern”. Admitted, he’d been working hard to make his mosaic smooth as he could. Just down the hill, the cork community cries injustice. They voted for several trees in their community, none receives the prize. It’s not fair.

Till now, Benny the Birch had little a bark at all. Lately he had the idea of becoming a bit more woodier, so he did thicken somewhat around the edges. But his is far from the impressive white bark which his brother Jim the Birch brags about all the time. Jim secretly hoped for this prize. Benny had no clue, he enjoys growing one more leaf. That bark will come.

On the open spot, Seraph the Oak continues his careful process of interpreting. Wally the Walnut-tree goes nuts when he wins the golden nut. The golden flower goes to Maggie the Magnolia, with Edward the Elderblossom as a close second. Fanatic cheers and shouts alternate each other in a wavy sea of scents.

For the first time in his centuries old existence, Seraph grants the greatest tree award with a fundamental doubt. “Are these awards a good thing? Aren’t we needlessly benefitting the strong? Shouldn’t we be fertilizing the weak instead”. These thoughts usually occur to a queer tree in a dark corner of the forest. But Seraph has this thought and when a tree has a thought it cannot withhold it. So it is expressed.

The cheering ends abruptly, making space for a vast silence in the woods, interrupted only by some disrespectful birds. Noisy creatures they are.

This never happened before. Not from a tree of this status. Questioning our forests pride.

When he has to speech, Abraham Oak, winner of the golden tree, does not know what to say. Nor does any other tree of the forest. It remains silent.

Benny is about to grow his second branch. It will take guts.

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Back in Vienna

The building is huge. Not tall. Vast. Majestic. It radiates. It facades an infinite place with age old trees. I have no choice but to walk towards it. I sit down puzzled, and will stay here. I chose earlier to take just one picture of Vienna; here is where.

“I’d expected you twenty centimeters smaller and ten years older”. “I expected the same of you”. Thomas is my second host this week. With 1 m 99 he is just a centimeter taller than I am. He is also interested in studying cultures and religion. Does Capoeira. People ask if we are brothers. He is opening a cultural centre. I help him clean the garden. He invites me for diner, I cook for him. He takes me to his friends, I take him to mine. Meanwhile, we talk about many topics and sing the songs of the Flight of the Conchords.

The boy begins to cry, his face red of tears. “What did you do to him?” I ask Thomas. “I told him not to think about an elephant”. “Why are you crying?” asks Sabina to her son, Christopher. “I cannot stop thinking about an elephant.” he laments. We understand.

Yes and No

As I turn my face towards her, I know that something intense is about to happen. I hear myself say: ”So right now I am yes to you, and you are no to me.” The words come from deep and reach out deep while our eyes connect in a second of reciprokal gaze. Undivided by our dividedness.

2001. I am standing in the forest in the dark. A stage in front of us. Many liters of free beer. Marieke has the microphone and starts to sing. What a voice. By the end of the concert, I’ll be out of my mind. And I’ll stay in love with her for years.

“No!”.”No!”.”No!” So, would you like to become a donator? “No!”. While I say yes to almost everything, I’ve been hearing a lot of no’s in the past months. This job, that job, the house I’m living in and now most of the people I’m talking with on the street. “Ok, have a nice day!” But between the many conversations I have had today, Marieke stands in front of me. We often met by coincidence. “Hey!”

Now, we’re sitting at a table in the Vondelpark, equal in essence, impersonating yes with fresh mint tea and no with a coffee, while the trees are preparing for their outburst of spring. She just told me how she quit her jobs to the dissatisfaction of her colleagues and how she broke up with her guy after he asked her to marry him. “You always bring out the hippy side in me”. It’s in times like these that I see the colours of the energies. I am aware that things flow into each other obviously as our smiles do now.

“Will you be my girlfriend?” Looking back, I could have chosen a more romantic setting than the schools main entrance. I had wanted to, but never dared. Hey, it was my first time. Her answer can be summarized in a short but painful ”No”. Little did I know then that in over ten years, this would contribute to a cosmic click.