Victory. Yesterday I got a big one: not only did I make the phone call I needed to, I spoke and was spoken to in Dutch for the entire conversation, was understood, and understood what was said to me. Nothing like that break-through high; I floated on smiles and confidence for the rest of the day. My appointment is tomorrow morning at 9:30, which will necessitate a journey during rush hour, including a bus transfer. I’m not intimidated. Just the opposite; I’m looking forward to attempting to converse more in Dutch (my appointment is with someone new; the gent I’ve been working with is on holiday).
I felt so good yesterday that as 2:30 rolled around and my home Dutch lesson was over with, I didn’t dither or delay in taking a walk. On went my shoes, and out into the fresh air I walked for a full hour. My only pause was an almost reverential experience. I happened upon a lone dog in the park. Well groomed and collared, I knew it to be someone’s beloved pet but it seemed to be out there all alone. I stopped and did what I always do: I talked to it. As I was contemplating what to do – should I take it home with me, or search for its owner in the park – a woman approached. Relief flooded thru me; I was spared making any tough decisions about the animal. She had watched me with the dog. Maybe I’m unique in the way I approach animals; I don’t know. What I do know is the woman touched my arm, her eyes met mine, and she said ‘Lieverd, dank u’ (darling, thank you) with so much emotion in her voice I felt beatified. Blessed, I continued on my way and came home with a decent sweat built up in exchange for my effort.
This morning echoed yesterday. Back to the pool after a four week absence. I was surprised to hear The Beastie Boys playing when I entered the swimming area – so pleasantly surprised that I exclaimed aloud and gave a thumbs up to the attendant standing nearby. That led to another conversation – mostly in English; his Dutch was too much for me – in which I was told to please submit some music suggestions to the class instructor, she’d really appreciate it (yeah; I’m prepping a list). Into the water – warm, the temperature of a perfect relaxing tub. Once again my instructor impressed me by coming over to inquire why I hadn’t been in class. She doesn’t have to; she just does. Just one more human kindness freely given here.
As my language skills open up, that is what I’m most impressed with in Dutch society. The simple social skills the Dutch have. The little kindnesses they show to everyone, one and all, that makes life here special. I’ve lived in cities, suburbs, and rural wilderness. Never before have I encountered such an urban lifestyle combined with small town manners.
I feel seen. So often I’ve passed as a ghost through this place or that. Not here. Here I am becoming part of the neighborhood. Someone you nod and say hello to as you pass by. It is not an interest born of malice, as I’ve encountered in other parts of the world. The people here are not looking for your weaknesses in order to exploit you. Rather, they seem to understand that they live as a people or die as individuals. Their choice has been life. And what a life they’ve created! A mix of the best of socialistic views with enough environmentalism and a sprinkle of capitalism to act as an inducement for innovation. The world could learn a lot from the Dutch.
I’m happy. Not that wild manic happy, but a contented pleasantness that permeates every pore in my body. Even my little aches and pains, still with me, seem inconsequential to the larger bulk of HAPPY in my life right now.
Smiling is so easy right now.
And yes, I’m well aware that my current well of contentedness is springing from my interaction with other people. That’s what you can get when you stop picking belly button lint and try. Of course it’s risky. Of course I’m on a lucky streak right now.
It’s just real nice when things work out well once in awhile. So I’m enjoying it. There’s a bittersweet element to it, too. I know that, unfortunately, my happiness doesn’t radiate through everyone. I have friends who are still in very bad places. It’s hard to not feel a little guilty over feeling so good when people I care about feel like shit. But I would not begrudge them happiness if I was down. I’d be pleased that they, at least, feel good. I hope my friends think similarly.
True to yesterday’s post, I changed my desktop photo. I had a twinge of guilt for personifying a perfectly innocent elephant with my sister’s twisted spirit, but I accept that I’ve made the connection now and it’s not harming anyone or anything (I fully support saving the elephants, btw). Today the photo on my desktop is equally symbolic. A lone eagle is flying near a giant waterfall, all lit in that early morning yellow you don’t see unless you get your ass up out of bed while it’s still dark. Yep, that eagle is me. A tiny dot against a giant backdrop. And still flying, despite the obvious show of brutal strength in the background.
Fly, baby girl. Fly like an eagle.