New beginning

“Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.”    Krishnamurti.

Dear All,

The big ceremony, in the temple down the road, is still not over. The zenith was last Wednesday everybody told and I thought it would be over then. Not so. From all over the island groups arrive every day. The traffic is in total disorder, partly because of the crowds but mainly because the police decided to do their part. In the meantime, people keep coming and they are happy. “You’re clean again”, says Ibu Putu with a face full of happiness and, although I don’t understand much of Hinduism, it’s something I can relate to. Even after a service of four and a half hours (!) in Africa – all in Zulu and besides the “welcome mister Frank from Holland” I hardly understood a word – I had the same feeling. I think most of us know the relief after a new beginning and the new perspective that comes with it. The confession in Catholic churches, I don’t have personal experience there, must be something similar and, as long as it doesn’t become routine, a wonderful position. The compulsiveness and the ridiculous high costs here in Bali are bothersome but in the knowledge “to be clean again” is great value.

In the meantime of course, it’s very possible, I did see it happen yesterday, that you leave cleansed from the temple and hardly on the road you clash with another motorbike and you get into a quarrel. And then a police officer blames you! Bye new beginning, bye cleanliness, the whole trip for nothing. Maybe to the temple tomorrow…

Ever been waved at by a thousand people you don’t even know? I thought so. I am though. Thursday evening I was in a small restaurant and another twelve trucks, each with 80 – 90 people, came by on their way to the temple. How and why it happened I don’t know but someone on the first truck waved and I waved back. Then the whole truck joined as well as all the trucks behind them. That is, the people in the trucks joined. Hello celebrity, eat that, 1000!

A new beginning; sometimes, probably even often, it means breaking with what was before. The almost megalomanic nonsense of “Non, je ne regrette rien” aside for a while, repeat and now better, back to base and, for me often too, to ‘Ne me quitte pas’. Panta Rhei – everything flows – and the future comes from behind is what the Greek say. The future; surprising when she reaches us, and demanding we’re observant if we want to grab chances and possibilities. With the stream, in front of us, things disappear from our sight and become the past. Who, like I do, tends to cling to the remnants of (e.g.) a disaster in life, takes flight from the future. (Read more and better in books about Kairos, a description of the other time.)

After a silence of eight or nine months T. sends an email and a a test-message; he’s sorry about how things went. ‘How you did things’ is my first thought. Not for long though; is trying again still an option, also when it simply doesn’t work? There is little I’ve let go of. Everything; the mountains of broken, damage and pain and the good experiences, it still isn’t beyond the horizon. there. His ‘You’re useless’ is still a fat splinter and it itches. Even so, a new beginning? I often blame the way I was brought up but it’s more likely that’s a flaw within me; not wanting to let go of the other and repair what is broken. ‘Ne me quitte pas.’ (Maybe that’s why melting glass together suits me so well?)

‘It had been glued a hundred times and every now and then, it broke again’ was the text of a Dutch singer and in between Chris DeBurgh sings, in another context, about the ‘Classical dilemma between the head and the heart’. The last bit of Studio Emmanuel and of what once started as a project full of hope. I’m not good in finding the balance between head and heart. I stumble there. The metaphor of times gone by that float towards oblivion, towards the horizon to give tomorrow a chance, helps me. With pain I decide to let the future come and to give space to the stream that is life.

The teaching of the church won’t change. Divorced and re-married Catholics remain, in the eyes of the church, not equipollent believers. But; the church will approach them in a different way. Didn’t I read well or did it say indeed “I think you’re not equal but as of now I’ll do my best not to show my feelings”? Later more positive news came; there will be room, also for gay people. Care and respect for each and every human being and his or her talents. That news again was, at least partly, contradicted by a well known Dutch priest, not my favourite catholic I have to admit, whom also had something to say about the tension between the teachings and practice, between men of the letter and the lenient. His worries that the lenient would overrule the men of the script, I don’t share. Let them please do, also in a church a new beginning doesn’t come from scripts.

Also new: a series of objects bases on poems. To the first object belongs a text of my own.


Patches of sentences that artfully hidden, contain a life.

Remembered and lost; sometimes, undusted of too much thinking, half a poem.

A cupboard chockfull, the door stuck in banality,

all is in stock, to look for it and find are two.

This morning the smell of breakfast softly mused a verse,

the chainsaw at the neighbours made firewood.

Handwritten comfort between banknotes became shopping-list,

nothing for that boy behind the counter.

Stay with me, I ask.


Love, Frank


Hope and courage

“Hope is the dream of a waking man”   Aristotle

Dear All,

Yesterday it was Saraswati, the (festive) day of the book, the day of knowledge. The belief here doesn’t allow the reading of books or any papers on that day; for most Balinese withdrawal symptoms were not expected. It’s a bit like the rule to not jump from the roof, not many are inclined to do so. When I go for dinner and bring myself a book to read during the wait, the staff is worried that I’m still at work. My, certainly not excessive book collection causes awe and wonder. You’ve red them all? And I see them think, that guy will work himself to death one day. Who knows… The culture of reading may need some development here, maybe I’m overdoing it. To much reading about things I can’t change, to much reading that changes me, at least for a while – and not always for the better. The idea is that reading enlarges your world – nothing wrong if it’s a constructive enlargement. The advised “portion healthy indifference” doesn’t work, it cannot work I think. Not if you love people. Adjusting my diet in reading and, more important, not focus on bad news only should solve the problem. It’s a search in the newspapers, what is not good is easy to find but the fact that the focus is on bad news still means it is beside the norm.

Underneath the horror often something good is hidden. The horrific fate of Alan Henning is one of those things that awaken the darkest feelings and still… there is another side to the story. The side of the story that tells about a man whom, out of the goodness of his heart, wanted to help people and was willing to make several dangerous trips to do just that. He sow love and I’m convinced that his work will bear fruits. Not joining in the panic and hatred that some sources propagate, looking for good news. This picture I made my screensaver for now.

Liberia-Ebola-Morgana Wingard-MSB12685

This is Patrick from Liberia and he is cured from ebola, he has a certificate to prove it. He was a patient of the courageous people of Doctors without Borders and the happiness in his face – One can also read the ‘I’ve seen so much’ – contradicts all the cynicism of ‘it won’t work anyway, it’s hopeless’

It won’t work, too readily assumed or is it an excuse not to start doing something. W. brought me a meal of yellow rice, accompanied by a whole list of complaints about Balinese men. Got up a four in the morning to make offerings and to bring them to various temples and ceremonies. Tired she fell asleep in the afternoon and was chastised by her husband because she missed an afternoon on a job and therewith, income. Today, after the holiday, make the yellow rice; up at four again. And in the meantime, she complains, he gets up at eight and drinks his coffee. Coffee she has to make for him.

“It’s the women themselves that will have to change it” I say. “Just don’t do it anymore.” And I tell her about the changes during the last decades in the West. Men behind a pram or vacuum cleaner, husbands in the kitchen. I know there is still a lot to do but that we’re on the way is because of some courageous women (and some men) whom didn’t take ‘it won’t work’ for fact. That my mother only five years (!) after I was born was allowed a legal capacity didn’t come out of thin air. Nor did the right for women to vote. W. answers with a variation; ‘things won’t change’ and at the same time I see in her face that she is now certain about what she assumed all the time; those westerners are nuts. But still, the grumble this morning is a beginning. Not loosing hope, gather a bit of courage and change is on its way.

The alamanda is flowering now. That tree is growing for two years now and although, they flower everywhere, in my garden only green. A few times I thought, during a swim, that there were some yellow flowers but after putting my glasses on again I realised they were yellow leaves. And now they are here, not enough yet to start a flower shop but still… a beginning. It also goes for trees it seems, that they do not develop all at the same speed. That precisely the one in my garden is slow… they say that a dog and his master, after a while, will look a bit alike too.

Love, Frank