Be the Sponge

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Six hours of activity can drain a lot out of you. Yeah, I got down to the festival – yea! And I actually saw the singer I wanted to see – yea! And I had enough energy to keep walking around to see what else was going on – yea!

In some respects it wasn’t easy. Just getting ready was an uphill battle. Every little thing I did seemed to take that extra bit of effort. Even pulling on my socks was tiresome. But something happened as the metro pulled away and started to take me downtown. The further I got from the apartment, the further away those nasty voices and problems that nag at me seemed. I’d made another deal with myself. I decided to treat yesterday as a mini-holiday. I always have a better attitude on holiday; there’s no appointments or schedules to keep and I’m free and easy. A lot can parade past me and I won’t raise one eyebrow. So I said ‘Ok, today’s a holiday. You’ve never been in Rotterdam, and you’re exploring the city brand new. Isn’t this metro cool?’ And from there, my attitude started to pick up and I felt a bit better.

A day that didn’t piss rain on everyone helped, too. It was one of those practically perfect days: autumn sun, cooler air, a little breeze to stir the dead end areas once in a while. You could strut downtown in shorts and a T if you were butch or bundle up in pants and a sweater. Both worked. Which was great, ’cause there were plenty of outdoor on the street concerts and activities to do.

Took a tram for the first time; haven’t needed the trams in Rotterdam before, but since yesterday was going to be longer I worked out which one to take to the singer I wanted to see. WOW! The trams here are SO much nicer than in Amsterdam. Newer, with a thick cushion seat that I didn’t want to get out of. I’ll make a habit of looking for more public transport. Usually I metro in and then walk to make sure I get SOME exercise every day. But I think it would be nice to use more public transport to get to a place in the city I haven’t seen and then get out and walk around there.

The festival yesterday was spread all over the city. Impromptu stages were set up here and there. Some were hidden in small park areas, others were in club venues. Dancers danced and musicians jammed on street corners. It was quite a thing, a living festival that slithered up and down as people moved about. Several street art exhibits were up for only the weekend. Even if I’d been up to doing more AND able to get around faster, there was no way to see everything on offer. Which is, of course, what makes a good festival!

The singer was good, not great. Then again, she was on at 2:30 on a side venue in a small park. I didn’t expect the greatest act to be put there. Always fascinated to watch performers here; in the US, audiences demanded certain types of acts. Here, it’s different, and performers can get away with much less and yet need more. In the US, a solo singer (unknown act) on the stage singing to a one man keyboard accompaniment wouldn’t be all that well received. People expect to see a band, or back up singers, or dancers, or all combined into a show. The actual SINGING doesn’t have to be that good, because so much else is going on. Here, they’ll take a soloist with a rinky-dink accompaniment IF they’ve got the voice to do it. It’s an amazing flip to watch happen.

Saw a group of old Dutch men do a Beastie Boys cover in Dutch. Yep. Couldn’t unsee it; wish I could.

Heard an incredible nobody with no backing just take out his sax and make music. Not on any schedule or time table, no announcements. Just one of those things you could catch if you were in the right place at the right time. Holy shit, the man could blow!

Ate a vegetarian meal (falafel at my favorite restaurant) and window shopped for shit I can’t afford yet. Then it was catch the metro back before the evening’s scheduled thunderstorms came in.

I didn’t get a goddamn thing resolved in my head or my soul, but it did feel good to get out and just interact with humanity for an afternoon. Pretend I didn’t have so many problems. That’s what I did; I pretended out there, and it felt good for a day. I really did take a little holiday from my problems. For once there was enough going on to drown out all the shit in my head. I didn’t think about my problems or my feelings for the entire day. I just walked and saw, said ‘Ooo! Look at that!’ and listened. I was hit by smell after smell; food and perfumes and once raw sewage seeping up from somewhere. It just all came in, no thought, no judgement. I was a sponge.

I used to consciously enter that mode while at Uni. It’s how I aced my classes. When I walked into a class I concentrated on stopping my internal dialogue and just soaking up everything. I told myself not to question what was being said; lecture is not the time for questions. Just be the sponge. It worked. I haven’t ever thought of using it out THERE in my daily life, but yesterday’s experience is making me think that I should. Usually when I enter the outside world, it is with purpose: I am out to do something specific; a task, an errand. I have a goal I need to accomplish. That puts blinders on me. It focuses my head in a certain way. I need SOME of that in order to get through the task. But too much and I become mono-maniacal and then, well, I fuck up. I diss people. I don’t listen or pay attention. I disregard and shut OUT that world. Maybe I should let it in…

Now THAT’S a fucking interesting concept. Can I be more of the sponge? Be out there without that shit that distracts me? Hm. Honestly, the world better fucking pony up and be more interesting. Usually I’m just too bored. That’s the truth. Boredom. Too little, too slow….Trying to remember if I started up the internal dialogue because I was bored. Started telling myself stories or poetry, started to write and do other things in my head when I was with people because I was bored off my tits. I think I did. I’m almost SURE I did. It sounds and feels like me, tho I’m not coming up with a specific ‘here it is!’ memory.

Fucking great. Just what I fucking want to admit. Yes, I started my own fucking problems and now they’re out of control and I can’t stop it. Fucking wonderful….Stop it, you bitch. All you did was hone your skills. How the fuck do you think you start to write or do anything? You gotta THINK about it first. Ok, so you were bored. You didn’t create your fucking boredom with everything. You didn’t create your fucking mania that made you fucking bored. You just dealt with it the best way you fucking could, so get off my fucking back you cunt!

BAM! I guess my 90 pound weakling went and did that training. I couldn’t have managed that conversation before. Ok. Thank you, Universe. Yeah, I get it. My 90 pound weakling DOES have to continue that training. And maybe part of that is nourishing myself by letting the outside world in a little bit. Just a little. Get out there more, do more. Try to get downtown once a week or so and just walk around among other people who are living and breathing and smiling and crying and all the shit I go through. I’m not on this planet all by myself. Gotta be that sponge a little bit more.

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