Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The depth of life

DSC03841 (1300x974)‘'So, basically, you’re an international man of leisure, just without the money nor the leisure?’

I’m catching up with all of my Dutch / expat friends, six weeks away from the Netherlands and everyone is curious.  ‘Grazing the trees whilst flying the business,’ I tell colleagues over a biertje; ‘Finding a new beach rental in Dorset,’ I tell friends over koffie.

Like the blind men an the elephant, everyone gets an honest bit of the whole.

DSC03842 (956x1300)I’m relaxing back into Maastricht, day by day.   Yesterday was a long-overdue catch-up with a dear friend; I joined another happy in their promotion at work, and listened to another worried about their medical prognosis.

It’s all reconnecting with the warp and woof forming the fabric of everyone’s lives.  More than sitting by the river in warming weather or exploring the new restaurants and pubs along the ‘skade, these connections define everyday life, create richness and value in my Dutch relationships.

Have you considered moving on?  Although I was away a long time, “No”.  The connections, the memories, the people are the greater reason to stay.

Booking.com wrote to say that after analyzing my travel habits, they had determined that my ideal break included:

booking prefs

Maybe they know me better than I know myself, but I’d have said that I like touring (driving long distances), rustig (relaxation), and cultural landmarks (art).

DSC03928 (975x1300)My 60th is fast approaching, a landmark birthday with high expectations (beyond simply getting freebie-passes on public transport) .

Plan A (A big party in Sicily) and Plan B (A big party in the US) have fallen through, so I’m reverting to Plan C (an excursion to a memorable location).  

I remember 50, oude jenever shared with colleagues in Amsterdam; I intend to mark the decade in passing, without stopping

DSC03926 (975x1300)I lie in during the pre-dawn hours, reading quietly.  “Have you missed out on living life amazingly?” challenged Raymmar on Medium.

  • Have you failed enough?  Do you choose not to try?
  • Do you care too much what others think?  Do you care about the stuff you have more than the things you’ve done?
  • Do you believe you’re smarter than you are?  Do you learn from life?
  • Do you read?  Do you learn from other’s lives?
  • Do you lack curiosity?  What if its all a lie?
  • Do you ask enough questions?  Of yourself?
  • Can you handle the truth?  Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know?

I’m nowhere near perfect, but I do pretty well on this quiz.

If anything, my weak spot in this is vanity: overestimating my abilities (as opposed to my (unremarkable) looks or (insubstantial) worth).  Many of my mistakes stem from firm assurance that I can accomplish or fix almost anything.  The reality can leave me stressed; criticism can make me defensive.  But I’m getting better, becoming both more realistic and less ambitious.

DSC03924 (975x1300)David Brooks had a wonderful perspective on the personal journey, one he characterizes as seeking depth.

When we say that someone is a deep person, we mean they have achieved a quiet, dependable mind by being rooted in something spiritual and permanent.

Depth, the core of our being, is something we cultivate over time. We form relationships that either turn the core piece of ourselves into something more stable and disciplined or something more fragmented and disorderly.

Depth is built through freely chosen commitments and enduring the sacrifices those commitments demand.  Depth is built by fighting against natural predispositions.

Depth is achieved when people discover they are not what they appeared to be.

I strive for success and happiness, to make a difference and share a life.  And, in Brooks’ “core wounds and the core loves”, I recognize something more.

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