Count and share

Who can tell how short a life is, how long? To measure in years is something for the bookkeeper, is making balance sheets that will never show the essence, is mathematics with plus and minus and confusing the balance with profit or loss. A small thought this morning about a life that was cut off; looking back at his last birthday, ten years ago now.

Small soft deeds that worked towards peace, unnoticed and coming naturally – shortcomings complemented by modesty and an earnest willingness. And happiness about life that coloured every day in a thousand colours. Words and deeds, I’ve experienced them carelessly happy; who counts the light when the morning begins?

And now, even when darkness and anger about the injustice sometimes want to attack, also that light is still on my path. Who then can tell how short a life is, how long?

Dear All,

With friends I was a few days in Gili Air, one of the three small isles near the coast of Lombok. The journey to it was one with obstacles, the shuttle from Ubud ended up in a massive traffic jam. I assume you’re not surprised it was because of another ceremony? Several villages brought truckloads of offerings and that had to be done, that was apparently the rule, in the middle of the road. The only serious road from southwest Bali to the east was completely blocked for more than two hours, also because the villages obviously didn’t coordinate the starting time or maybe, who knows, the priest had to be present at all the different locations. We were in the front of the traffic jam and had a good view of it all, a pendanda (priest) even gave us a drink. My friends thought it very interesting.

The fast-boat had waited nevertheless and soon we were racing and bumping over pretty high waves. Thoughts about other boats in another world were coming to my mind. “I count my blessings every day” that dear aunt de Haan used to say often, and the stupid I was thought it a strange activity of that dear old lady. That was my thinking then …

We were lucky; it was very low low-season. The transport – no cars, no motorbikes – was done by cidomo, a small carriage with a little horse, and modern times were only, slightly bizarre, seen in the smartphone of the driver. A beautiful location on a beach lined with palm-trees, a crystal clear blue / turquoise sea, swimming and snorkelling with the turtles and for the rest not doing much. What made me a bit sad were the lines of bars, disco’s and what have you, all build in the last five years. Now most of them closed but later, in high season, it will be like Kuta here in Bali; drinking noisy crowds till the early morning hours. Yes, count your blessings, we were lucky; beautiful days of rest, sun and sea.

When I write this blog it rains for the first time in many weeks; a little. There are reports saying that the rainy season will only start in January, El Ninjo the wrongdoer. In the meantime farmers sleep on their sawah to prevent their “colleagues” from closing off the water to their properties. There are fights, sometimes literally, about water. In many respects it only seems as if life here is simpler.

The help is gone for a few days, another ceremony with a sad reason. A niece, 26 years old with a child of only one, died “just like that”, no obvious reason. Her husband worked on one of those cruise-ships and apparently she waited for his return, three minutes after his arrival she passed away. The next morning two babies were born in the same family. Because of the stories I hear, I get, not for the first time, funny thoughts about this “dying just like that, dying with no obvious reason”. No relevance for what happened but worrisome for the future if I’m right. Too many African experiences maybe, I’ll be very happy to be wrong.

I can only hope that the picture I get over the net, through newspapers, is a misrepresentation; that you have more peace of mind than the media make me believe. From here it looks as if the criminals of isis are dominating the world. Fear for an attack; according to the Dutch writer Bas Heijne the real attack already took place. A relation of deep, mutual distrust between the West and the Islam is a fact and the jihadi’s, anticipating on widely present feelings of estrangement and discontent, try to poison it even further. Heijne asks for strong tokens of solidarity and doesn’t see them. I live in the biggest Muslim country in the world and in other circumstances I might consider the statements about “the Islam” and “the Muslims” that a visiting friend made amusing. Now it was just another sign that we often prefer the convenience of putting everything in the same basket above really get to know each other. And it is a sign that, based on prejudice, we deny ourselves the sharing of the richness of each other.


A man in India found, on the garbage dump where he works, a rocking horse and brought it home for his children.

In the meantime the iPad is available in gold, a few American companies offer terms of employment that include freezing of ovules so that the ladies can work a few years longer before they get pregnant and I see an add for a smart-watch (what would life be without) in, again, gold. A minister in the Netherlands announces to wait with implementing a ruling by the European council, for now we’ll just go on with not minding human dignity of refugees. Maybe some misunderstood the counting thing. Plus, minus, balance…          No dear, blessings!, that’s what you have to count. And share; above everything, share! Because that’s what blessings are for; share them and make them bigger.

Love, Frank