The answer within

“we are here to be challenged” I read once. I believe this is true.
A month ago, I felt at peace and at ease. I had hope, trust, felt spiritually balanced, was surrounded by inspiring people. I felt safe. I felt the purpose.
Then my world got shaken up. Change, emotions, obsessions, insecurity, jealousy, lust, anger, happiness,pain, energy, became part of my day. I never learned how to deal with these things and the longer I am sober the more I realise how sensitive I am. Most of my life I would manipulate these feelings and mold them into something I could accept. I still do. I have become a master in it. I use drugs, alcohol, internet, sex, attention, sports, music, work or even denial, not to feel.
I guess this behavior is all based on fear, fear of emotional pain, fear of emptiness. I am losing that, now that I am growing up.
All these things are soothing, they numb the pain and sometimes its great fun as well. But it doesnt heal. A painkiller numbs the pain but doesnt solve the problem. And this is what happens to me, by temporarily numbing the symptoms I keep running into the same issues over and over. Without progress.
I am learning now that, in order to move on, I need to change my patterns. In order to grow I need to look within. Not to be free of trouble, fuck no! Who would want that?! But to be better able to deal with it. To be free!
No matter how much money, drugs or sex you have, eventually you will get bored and you will see the emptiness and loneliness.
Happiness, freedom, joy, it is within each of us. We just need to unlock it. Fearless.

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the raw reality of excistence

Over the news, net and social media, we get the most horrible shit thrown at us. Violations of human right, morals, ethics, freedoms are all over. Gaza, Syria, Ukraine, USA, Iraq, Afganistan, to name a few. And thats only the shit we hear about.
Apparently, this is the safest era in the known history of the world. Imagine that…

How do our lives look?
I like to believe our lives are a smaller version of what goes on on this planet. We have our struggles,fights, sometimes very nasty shit going in. Be it physically or in our minds. But we also experience beauty, friendship, loyalty, love and much more good stuff. Its all there on a daily base.
When you look at our world, what do you see?
Back to our own lives. When you ask someone:”how are you”?, most people say “good”. Statistically this is not true. Far from most people are “good”. Many of struggle most of their lives; social/ financial pressure, jobs we hate, unhappy marriage, health issues, deaths of loved ones, etc.
Personally,I’ve been in some deep shit. When people would ask how I was, I’d put on the “happy mask” and say:”all good, thanks”. I didnt want my fellow humans to know I too, struggled. I felt better than that, or believed I didnt need help.
As if we have somekind of shame to admit we too have to deal with difficulties. Especially now in this age of social media, I/ we create this image of succes, awesomeness, fun, adventure. Very rarely do we share what is really going on in our daily excistence. The insecurities we deal with, fears, strange or obscene joys we may have. We all know they are there. We do share foto’s of wonderful nights out, with smiles and tequila shots, but I havent seen the selfie of a hungover-dehydrated face; yet.
I, personally, am more interested in the raw beauty of daily life than the heart shape in the foam on your capuccino. I want to know whats going on, how you deal with shit, so that I can learn and maybe even help.
I admire the courage shown by people after the war is over, the soldiers left, the memories still there, but they manage to move on, rebuild, learn to love again. Life always finds a way. Love always finds a way. Be open. Give and receive. Live

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finding direction

A conversation I had this week with a mother and her son, made me think. The kid is 18 and has no idea what he wants in life. The mom, of course, is worried and comes up with all kind of plans for him.
The kid is overweight, drinks cola from the morning, and is on ritalin.
This, to me, is a great example of modern life.
We expect people, kids, to have a plan. We need to know what we can expect, what we can use them for. I bet that this kid, like anyone else, wants to be happy. So he knows what he wants. He just doesnt know where he can fit in in society. Nothing wrong there. The working masses dont exactly radiate happiness.
Then he obviously showed some behaviour that society didnt find acceptable and we decided to drug him. Now Ritalin is a controversial drug. Me, as a former drug enthousiast, loved the stuff. I’ve stayed up many nights on that stuff, but taken as medicine in the right doses, it kills all enthousiasm. It numbs all senses. And that doesnt make it easier to decide what you want out of life.
How great would it be if doctors prescribed solutions instead of medications. Exercise, eat sensibly, meditate, sleep enough, read, travel, learn. Or even do not get a job, do not become a slave. Think about it. As an average person; you work your ass off away from friends and family, you have to keep motivating yourself to believe you love your job, you sacrifice your time for money so you can buy and do overpriced things we tell you that you need and eat. And then the annual opening of the cage. The trip to Thailand or somewhere similar, where you can do what you really want for a while.
I’d say, fok that! Buy your time back! Take it easy, spend time with friends and family. Spend time with yourself. Go live in Thailand, backpack through your own part of the world, dont fit in, be happy. Feel what it is like to be free. Find out what you really want and do it.
Would you still live the same lifestyle?

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Comparing myself to others….

“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time”. (from the Desiderata, Max Ehrmann)

How true this is.

For the past months I wasnt feeling that well, I had that feeling of being incomplete again, “something is missing”.
Theoretically I was ok. I’m healthy, my kids are cool, I have jobs that I like, eat well, acceptable social contacts, I have a safe place to live. No worries there. I’m even improving in all those fields, so thats not it.
The big change in my emotional state came on a morning that I was jogging to work. As I started that run, I cursed people who keep saying they have no time for exercise. Eventhough I still think everyone can (and should) make time to improve their physical health with a minimum of will and creativity.
Why does it bother me what others choose to do with their time?
As I was jogging along I noticed how nice the weather was, how much I enjoy greeting people along the way, the fact that I can enjoy a run! I started to see how blessed I was. I am running towards my job, one that I enjoy doing (most of the time). And above all, it is my choice to do this. Of course I would like to have more money and that kinda shit. Even the richest man on earth would like to have more money. Thats a never satisfying chase. Me, I realised at that point, that for me, the key to my happiness is being happy with what I have, to be conscious of what I have, not of what I don’t have.
I tend to look at others and compare myself as if I’m in somekind of ongoing competition. Is he better looking than me? Could I sleep with her? Am I stronger than him? To the point that when I see a big guy, I wonder how I could beat him in a fight. This constant comparing and judging is a time and energy consuming machine of unhappiness.
Today I focus on what I enjoy doing. Today I am grateful for what I do have and I shall nurture it to the best of my abilities, however humble it may seem. I choose.

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Life is. Period

On facebook we are bombarded with quote’s, some of which hold valuable wisdom. I love the Rumi’s, Paolo Coelho’s, Albert Einstein’s and so on. I actually find myself in real life using these quote’s in conversations that usually starts by me saying: “I read somewhere”…
A friend told me, jokingly, that quotes that start with “life is” are always followed by a load of crap. Since then I can not read these quotes without thinking of him. And I see his point. Life is. Period. There is great acceptance in this. Life is. It is this attitude of acceptance that can lead to a fulfilling life, regardless of your religious beliefs. Keep it simple. If you take only what you need, you will always find enough. A tree does not take more from the earth than it needs. All life was once like this, including us humans, I belief this is the time many religions refer to as paradise. We treated everything as one, cared for everything because we realized we were part of it. Then something happened. Some of us started taking more than their share, putting themselves above others, making others work for them instead of for each other. When cells of the body do this, we call them cancerous. We have accepted a society that not only allows this, but promotes it. Having much more shit than others is called “success”. We call offsetting the balance “success”!
If we could only realize that we are all part of our ecosystem, connected, one, sharing the same life force, genes, sharing the same past and future, could we focus more on each others wellbeing rather than our personal gain? By hurting someone or something else I am hurting myself because we are connected. “Do unto others”….
We have a deeper need to feel that we belong, we see this in football hooligans, sects, religions. We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves because we are a part of something. But when people want to be better, more important than others, shit hits the fan. Ajax-Feyenoord, Sunni-Shiates, Copts-protestant. One is better than the other. And they all admit the “devil” devides (maybe not so the hooligans).
Life is. And you are part of it. Do what is right. Today.

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we are not that bad

The last couple of months I have moved around a lot. I gave up my apartment at the end of last summer. At that time I made that choice to avoid financial complications. I don’t think at that time I realized how much I was about to learn about myself and the world I live in, the people and work of God I live with.
For some reason I expect people to be bad. This is what I am taught when I watch tv or read the newspapers. Lust can lead to rape, greed can lead to theft, jealousy to murder and so on. This is true and this, also, happens. Most people do not want to rape, rob or murder me, by the way. This is a very comforting thought. When we talk about humanity, in general, we talk about how we destroy our planet, how we organize ourselves in religious, racial groups and fight for power. Why do we seem to be more lead by fear than by curiosity? To avoid being hurt? Most of us never get to live! “Don’t climb up there, you might fall”! Why not climb up there and you might just experience the most amazing view ever. Not climbing is often more deadly than climbing. We drug our children so we can fit them in, for crying out loud! To make them quiet and easy to handle? Fuck that! Why do people need a near death situation to start living? To enjoy, take risks? Are you taking enough risks? At your end will you think: “yes, I did what I was supposed to do” Or was collecting shit you don’t need and sit on a couch watching tv every night what you were supposed to do? Could be, don’t get me wrong, if you’re at peace with that.
I have found these last few months that people want to help, people want to do good. It is in our nature. But you have to give as well. Be friendly, be helpful when you can, selflessly. And it will echo back. Yes, you will be disappointed sometimes, but rest assured, you’ll get over it.
Maybe I’m just lucky with the people around me. I am grateful, at least.
Help someone today and you’ve improved your world.

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Keeping it simple

Great wisdom is to be found on the internet.
I came across a little cartoon on facebook recently. The conversation balloons read this:
“you think too much”
-“you don’t think enough”
“yes, but I am incredibly happy”
-“hm…”
I am a thinker, I’m not saying I’m intelligent, but I think a lot. Whatever I hear, say, see or feel, I analyze and try to understand it. I try to gain control by understanding. This is very tiring. When I was younger I found the perfect solution; weed and beer. Unfortunately these medicine come with some highly unpleasant side effects. Nowadays I have a more open mind to find ways of finding silence. Sports is one. I love exercising; kickboxing, running, weightlifting, swimming. It brings me peace of mind and builds self confidence, discipline and gives me some constructive social relations. Meditation is another. The days where I actually take the time to meditate I generally feel more calm than other days. Knowing this, I still found it hard to take the time out to sit in silence. So what I did is to download a 10 minute guided meditation of my phone, so that when I have a few spare minutes, I can sit and meditate. Especially on busy days this works wonders to stay focused.
The other one I try to practice is acceptance, possibly the most important. Accepting things the way they are, life on life’s terms. As the serenity prayer states, “give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”.

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