See what it gets you

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I once heard a gag from comedian Louie Anderson that ended up with the punchline ‘you here four hour!’ said in a very un-pc Asian accent. That line is echoing in my brain today; it took me four hour to do what should have been an hour and a half max.

Jiggery-pokery, indeed! Today I’ve travelled on metros, trains, trams, and buses. I’ve also walked, climbed stairs, and meandered back and forth looking for all my connections. Ended up just missing the tram I needed to take, which made me 15 minutes late for my doctor’s appointment. Didn’t matter. I was so utterly urban today that I simply whipped out my mobile and called – in Dutch. More Dutch at the hospital; the woman at the receptionist desk might have used every Dutch word I don’t know the meaning of. Others I encountered were more helpful. I kept my cool, did what I could to keep up with the lightening fast exchanges I bore witness to, and didn’t even raise a sweat. Took a different route home, a bus line that took me through the northern part of the city and into residential neighborhoods I didn’t know existed. Got off to buy my lotto card before coming home and was tempted into finding out why the fish shop at Hesseplaats is so popular. Kibbling broodje te meenemen, alstublieft. Met knoflook saus. Lekker!

Now I’m being treated to the downstairs neighbor’s music choice. Sounds a bit Latina to my ear, though that could simply be due to my ignorance of whatever world sound they’re actually playing through obviously high end speakers. Ai! They haven’t heard my music yet. The temptation to tip my big ass PA speakers onto the floor and crank up a sub-bass that will rattle their windows is pretty damned high at the moment.

I won’t, of course. But it’s good to know I can.

Been plugging away at all the tasks I have set for myself on a daily basis. Dishes, make the bed. Back exercises. Dutch language drills. Walk. Never rush, never hurry because I have nothing to rush or hurry for. This is my life. Time sensitive appointments come few and far between for me. So it’s okay for me to meander a little bit, to stop and try to speak to someone. It’s okay to head off in an entirely unexpected direction just because. It’s even okay for me to pay a little money for a beverage or a sandwich if I want to.

I’m learning to live.

And what joy it is to not be overwhelmed by everything and everywhere I go. The Netherlands was my first actual introduction to trains and trams; nowhere I’d lived before had them. The bustle of the stations, the pure assumption at certain levels of travel that yes, of course you speak Dutch, was overwhelming for me. Now I’m just one of those people you see confidently striding through train stations to tram halts or bus stops. I know where to look and what to look for. I can read the signs and understand them.

It’s a completely different world.

Different worlds mean different rules. I didn’t continue to beat myself up for losing my chip card the other day, and tho the day wasn’t great it didn’t end up sucking, either. That’s kind of where I’ve been: somewhere in limbo land between great and horrible. There’s some good things here, and some not so good things. My new set of rules – instilled in an instant and largely unconscious – includes focusing on the good things. Setting aside the bad is easy right now, so I’ll do it without question.

This flip – for there’s no other word for it – is so entire that it even affects the way I walk. Used to look down at the ground. I still do to make sure I don’t trip over something, but then my eyes are pulled up, up, up. Look around. See the people. Say hello, nod. Isn’t the sky blue? Isn’t that building truly beautiful? Yes. It’s all there to see if I just raise my eyes. This whole other world I can be a part of. I’ve been shy so long it’s mind blowing to step outside of that and the paranoia and all the rest and just bleeding walk down the street right now.

What I could BE if I stay here!

New set of rules again – no looking back. What was, was. I don’t have the past to manipulate and change to reap the benefits here and now. But I DO have an abundance of now to work with.

I’d be a fool to let this opportunity slip away.

Played the fool too often. Drawn the card too much in the Tarot. This fool is gonna open her eyes. Stop all that nonsense. Right here, right now, there’s concrete work to do. Roll up my sleeves; all I have is time.

Maybe that’s true of us all. Different contexts, of course, but in the end…time is all we have. He who dies with the most toys does NOT win. Things are meaningless. Who’s gonna remember you? Who will be sad to hear of your passing? Those are the questions we should be asking ourselves. Cost should not be an issue in so many instances. Help should just be given, as it was to me so many times today. I’m not talking big stuff here. Big stuff would be great: universal health care, education, housing, food, clean water. Don’t get me wrong. But no. I’m talking small stuff. Helping the person who obviously needs help. Stopping. Talking. Maybe someone needs directions. Maybe they need a buck or two for whatever reason. If you’ve never done it, try it. Give them what they need.

See what it gets you.

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