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Op die pynbank

Om soos ‘n padda gedissekteer te word.

Die ouderdom bekruip ‘n mens mos baie suutjies. Eendag is jy nog fiks en redelik gesond, en die volgende dag noem al die kinders wat jy raakloop jou Oom. En skaars het die eerste Oom woord jou getref of die eerste pyne slaan toe op jou lyf, en skielik is jy oud en jy weet dit, jy voel dit.

Onheilige pyne dwing my om die hulp van die mense met die lang wit jasse op te soek (eintlik dra almal nou ‘n das en langbroek … die mooi vrouedokters ook). So beland ek op die tafel/bed van ‘n spesialis wat spesialiseer in menslike bedrading. Ek voel soos ‘n padda op ‘n biologie-onderwyser se werkstafel.

Die man met die das (sonder sy jas) koppel my aan sy masjien soos die boewe in James Bond flieks altyd hulle slagoffers bedraad om inligting uit hulle te tap. Hy toets sy konneksies met ‘n tentatiewe, ligte skok. Hy sê hy wil net kyk of my senuwees nog werk. Ek sê vra my enige iets en ek sal jou al die antwoorde gee wat jy wil hoor, dis nie nodig om gewelddadig te raak nie.

“Hier kom die eerste skok” sê hy en hy tel een, twee, drie en toe skok hy my. Ek val amper van die bed af. “Oeps,” sê hy “Was dit seer?” Na menige “oepse” lyk hy heel tevrede dat my elektrisiteit-sisteem op hierdie gevordere ouderdom nog in gangbare, werkende toestand is. Sommer net vir die pret daarvan, glo ek, word nog ‘n paar skokke op strategiese plekke toegedien (genadiglik nie op daardie sensitiewe plekke waar hulle James Bond gewoonlik skok nie).

Toe bring hy sulke lang naalde te voorskyn en toe weet hierdie padda op die biologie-onderwyser se tafel dat sy dae getel is. Ek vra vir die pynmeester hoe diep hy van plan is om die naalde in my lyf te druk. Hy sê nee, nie baie nie, net so ver as wat ek dink nodig is, en toe steek hy my. Ek dink dit was daar waar my vrou toe onder sy lessenaar gaan wegkruip het.

Ek is altyd die eerste ou wat erken dat ek nie ‘n baie dapper soort mens is nie. Soos Terry Pratchett se towenaar Rincewind in Discworld, is weghardloop vir gevaar my beste eienskap. Maar voor ek van die bed af kon kom om te hardloop, toe koppel hy daardie naald van hom aan dieselfde pynboks waarmee hy my flus geskok het en stuur hy ‘n witwarm bliksemstraal deur my lyf. Ek dog ek dood. Maar ek gaan toe nie dood nie, en ek kom agter die pyn is nie so erg nie, dis meer soos ‘n kielierigheid. Dis nie asof ek sal smeek vir meer van dieselfde nie en naalde in my lyf was nog nooit my gunsteling tydverdryf nie, maar hierdie een kan ek oorleef.

Na nog ‘n paar skokke en steke is hy tevrede en sê ek kan nou maar weer my klere aantrek. Ma kom onder die lessenaar uit om te kom hoor wat die dokter se bevinding is.

Ons sal moet opereer sê hy. Jy het kar-parkeertonnel-sindroom. Nee, sê ek, wag nou eers ‘n bietjie. Ek weet ek het ‘n effense probleempie met parallelle parkering in die algemeen en in tonnels sal dit seker nog erger wees. My vrou dreig al om haar polse te sny as ek nie die tegniek onder die knieg begin kry nie, maar opereer! Nee ek dink nie dit gaan help nie. Miskien moet ek net weer ‘n paar lesse by een van daardie bestuur skole gaan loop, is minder pynlik en dit is ook nie so duur soos ‘n operasie nie.

Toe verduidelik hy. Dis ‘n lang storie. Iets te doen met senuwees (venus medianus) in die pols wat vasgeknyp word. Dit is wat al die pyn veroorsaak. ‘n Klein snytjie en jou pyn verdwyn soos spreekwoordelike mis voor die son.

Sny en mis en son klink nie vir my of dit in dieselfde sin hoort nie, sê ek vir die man met die das sonder die jas. Ek is hier omdat my huisdokter (noem ‘n mens hulle nog so? Meeste mense sê deesdae sommer ou Piet of ou Daan net om te wys watter belangrike vriende hulle het) ewewel, sy het vir my gesê, en op X-strale vir my gewys dat ek rumatiek in my hande het. Dit lyk of muise besig is om aan jou bene te knibbel, het sy vir my gesê, en sy het vreeslik jammer gelyk toe sy dit vir my sê. En dit is wat jy vir my moet doen, jy moet die muise dood maak. Vergeet van my parkeer probleempie, daaraan sal ek later werk, maar nou eers die knaagdier probleem. Kan jy help of nie?

Hy kon toe nie help nie. Hy wou my probleem wegsny … mis en son het hy aangehou. En toe is ons voort na die professor toe, die een wat weet van oumense en hulle probleme.

“In truth I say to you that within this fathom-high body … lies the world and the rising of the world and the ceasing of the world.”

The Buddha

Hierdie padda se wêreld is miskien (nog nie) nie heeltemal besig om te “cease” nie, maar dit begin ernstig te wankel.

Daar is nog hoop vir die mensdom. Kom hierdie storie “met ‘n hart” oor my pad, ‘n storie wat mens weer moed gee. Dit is nie die soort van storie wat koerante se voorblaaie sal haal nie, maar dit is genoeg dat daar in die stilte onder ‘n brug iewers nog klein wonderwerdjies afspeel wat mens daardie wonderlike warm gevoel om die hart gee.

Loren Eiseley (September 3, 1907–July 9, 1977) skryf:

“I sat very still in the strips of sunlight under the pier. To my surprise the muskrat came almost to my feet with his little breakfast of greens. He was young, and it rapidly became obvious to me that he was laboring under an illusion of his own, and that he thought animals and men were still living in the Garden of Eden. He gave me a friendly glance from time to time as he nibbled his greens. Once, even, he went out into the lake again and returned to my feet with more greens. He had not, it seemed, heard very much about men. I shuddered.

“You had better run away now,” I said softly, making no movement in the shafts of light. “You are in the wrong universe and must not make this mistake again. I am really a very terrible and cunning beast. I can throw stones.” With this I dropped a little pebble at his feet.

“He looked at me half blindly, with eyes much better adjusted to the wavering shadows of his lake bottom than to sight in the open air. He made almost as if to take the pebble up into his forepaws. Then a thought seemed to cross his mind — a thought perhaps telepathically received, as Freud once hinted, in the dark world below and before man, a whisper of ancient disaster heard in the depths of a burrow. Perhaps after all this was not Eden. His nose twitched carefully; he edged toward the water. It hovered there, waiting for my disappearance. I walked away, obscurely pleased that darkness had not gained on life by any act of mine.”

Begrafplaas

Lichtenburg Begrafplaas

Die gras groei welig tussen die grafte terwyl die twee klipduiwe oor ‘n graf waak. Is dit bosduiwe of kransduiwe, of was die man wat daar begrawe lê dalk ‘n duiweboer wat elke oggend gestaan en kyk het hoe sy duiwe, na hy hulle hok oop gemaak het, uitgelate die lug in gevlieg het? Nou wag sy klipduiwe rustig vir hom tot die dag van opstanding sodat hulle weer vir hom kan vlieg en hy weer vir hulle kan fluit om hok toe te kom vir kos?

Verskuil onder die skadu van ‘n Wag-n-bietjie doringboom waak ‘n engel oor ‘n toegegroeide graf waar in vinkies sit en sing. Dit is so rustig, ‘n mens voel lus en gaan sit onder die boom om ‘n oomblik te rus. Dit is nie moonlik om naby die engel te kom om te sien wie daar begrawe lê nie.

Eenkant, aan die rand van die begrafplaas is daar twee grafte. Aan die westekant van die twee grafte is daar ‘n oop stuk grasveld presies soos in die begrafplaas aan die oostekant van die twee grafte, behalwe dat daar geen grafte tussen die gras is nie. Hier lê Pa en Ma begrawe. Ek dink nie Pa gee om dat die grafte toe gegroei is met gras nie, inteendeel, ek dink hy sou verkies het dat die graniet blad op sy graf en die graniet kopstuk verwyder moet word en dat daar net ‘n hout- of ysterkruis op die kopkant van die hoop gruis geplant moet wees. Die wuiwende gras en die voëltjies wat sing skep die indruk van ‘n plaas kerkhof en dit pas by hom, die groot man met die sweetgevlekte hoed op sy gryskop en die pyp in die mond.

“Jy vra na my Pa oom, en hoe dit met hom gesteld is?

“Het jy hom dalk geken oom?

“My Pa, Oom, hoe sal ek sê?

“Wag, laat ek vertel. Oom vra mos.

“Hy was groot en kwaai, groot hande, groot woordelose blou oë. Kwaai, baie kwaai.

“Of was hy? Ek het hom ontmoet, eendag in die Bosveld agter sy trop rooi bees. Of was dit in die veld, vroegdag op die koedoe se spoor? Hy’t geloop en soek Oom weet. Op die spoor. Die spoor was daar maar ek weet nie so mooi of hy ooit daar was nie. Die spoor was daar Oom weet, en, ek dink my Pa was daar, op die spoor, al soekkende. Of die spoor al daar vir hom doodgeloop het? Ek weet nie Oom. Of dalk al vroeër?”

“Maar Oom vra na die welstand van my Pa.

“Miskien kan ek Oom vertel, want sien, ek dink ek het hom eendag raakgeloop. My Pa, Oom sien. Dit was `n mooi dag, `n warm dag daar langs die tefland. Maar hy was nie daar nie, toe al nie meer nie. Oom sien, ek het hom raakgeloop, daar ver in sy verlede. `n Ontvlugting dalk? Ek weet nie Oom.

“Hy het glo op sy jong dag `n ossewa omgegooi, sowaar! En hy`t `n goeie hond gehad Oom, baie slim, en `n perd, sommer `n perd duisend gewees daai! En, en hy het `n mooi jong vrou gehad,  pragtig en ook trane in sy groot blou oë.”

Uittreksels uit my storie “Groete aan Pa” uit my boek “Vuurvoël”

Op hierdie dag het ons my skoonma Zina/Sina begrawe in hierdie verwaarloosde begrafplaas sodat sy by haar man, ons skoonpa en die kinders se oupa kan wees tot daardie dag (soos hulle altwee vas geglo het) dat hulle sal opstaan en vir ewig bymakaar sal wees.

“Ek sien in my gees die glorie

En die almag van die Heer

Die Allerhoogste wat in liefde

Oor Sy Koninkryk regeer

Hy’t belowe aan die einde

Op die wolke kom Hy weer

Hy’s Koning, Hy regeer”

het ons vir haar gesing, en

“Hy’s die rots wat ewig staan

Loof Hom, prys Hom, halleluja” (3x)

A Diary of Life

A report on living

“Seeing into Nothingness – this is the true seeing, the eternal seeing.” (Shen-Hui)

Ross Gay wrote his “The Book of Delights”, a report on a yearlong experiment in “Willful Gladness”. Tolstoy wrote is “Calendar of Wisdom” in which he wrote a daily meditation on collected wisdom though the ages, including his own insights of how to live, one piece of wisdom for every day of the year.

“Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case.”

-Annie Dillard. Pilgrim at Tinker creek …

This is not a report on daily delights, nor is it, heaven forbid, an exercise in gratitude, that oversold, brutal demand for perpetual thankfulness in a world “that so readily gives us reasons to despair”. This will also not be a daily exercise like that of Ross Gay or Tolstoy or any other famous, prolific writer of diaries. I will write when the muse or the spirit moves.

What I want to do is to write about life and how it flows past us and through us every moment of our awake hours, what is out there and what is in here and maybe at some stage decide whether it is all out there, or is it all in here, inside my head? (“I had lost a head and gained a world” Douglas E Harding: “On having no head”)

Five-o-clock this morning I was sitting in the cold darkness of my sitting room with the sliding door to our small garden open. It is the first week of April, the beginning of Autumn and unusually cold and wet. Out in the garden a thrush (Tardus smithi) was singing its delightful little early morning song and every so often a sparrow or two would join in this sweet ode to the slowly emerging sun.

And then, all of a sudden, and rudely drowning out the feeble quipping voices of the small, feathered choir in my garden, the tranquility was scattered by rasping voices out of antiquity when a flock of ibises flew past. I know they are not everybody’s most favorite bird, and their bone shattering calls drives people up against the wall, but that is just it, those cries arrived straight out of the Jurassic period into my garden. If you close your eyes, you can imagine a flock of those early ancestors of our own ibis (Brostrychia hagedash), the not so graceful pterosaurus flying noisily by with that same rasping calls, while hundreds of dinosaurs are grazing on the plains in the distance; magnificent beyond words.

Just hold that image in your mind for a second and let your imagination soar, and you will be transported to a world of wonder, and maybe next time you hear an ibis calling out from your rooftop you will greet him as an old friend from way back when we were all infants in the relentless passage of time.

They arrived as if from the distant past in my back yard, and then their voices faded slowly back into the void. After some time, as if in shock, the thrush and the other birds haltingly took up their interrupted singing. Soon they were singing their joyful songs again, heralding in a brand-new day.

But then the rumbling noise that was audible in the background all the time became louder and louder, obliterating the gentle scene of tranquility in my back yard. The monster was waking up, the rumble became a deafening roar. The city announced its daily resurrection with the noise and smell of cars and trucks rushing by and simply obliterated all other sounds. And we think this to be normal, just another day of frantically making and spending money, mindlessly spending money on that must-have addition to my already overflowing wardrobe or that new gadget for my already over-stocked kitchen and of course that shiny new car or cottage by the see.

It is a nauseating reality to wake up to every morning, but amid this brutal onslaught on our sensibilities, there are still those small joys to look out for; a beautiful flower in a crack in the pavement, the smell of fresh ground coffee, the sound of a child laughing. It takes time and effort to really notice our fragile and beautiful world, but it takes more dedication and maturity to experience our world in all its splendor and brutality without forcing it to bend to our will and liking. Fernando Sabino (1923–2004) wrote, “In the end, everything will be [all right]. If it’s not [all right], it’s not the end.”

Henry David Thoreau

“No day will have been wholly misspent, if one sincere, thoughtful page has been written. Let the daily tide leave some deposit on these pages, as it leaves sand and shells on the shore. …. This may be a calendar of the ebbs and flows of the soul; and on these sheets as a beach, the waves may cast up pearls and seaweed.”

The hope here is that the deposit will be more pearls than seaweed.

Resensie.

Die Dao van Daan van Der Walt

Geskryf deur Lodewyk G Du Plessis*

(*Die skuilnaam van Regter Andries Buys)

So, hy is nie Daan van Der Walt nie, hy is ook nie Lodewyk G Du Plessis nie. Is hy dan regtig Regter Andries Buys as die media sê die skrywer se naam word streng geheim gehou?

Hoe dit ook al is, hierdie is een van die beste Afrikaanse boeke wat ek in ‘n lang tyd gelees het. Die skryfstyl herinner sterk aan Etienne Leroux waarop ek nog altyd versot was. Die Regter gaan haal ook, soos Leroux, sy stories diep uit die mitologie en die geskiedenis uit en weef dit pragtig in sy storie in.

In kort: Daan van Der Walt, ‘n welgestelde boer,  skryf sy geskiedenis (sy “historia”) neer terwyl hy dit ter selfde tyd aan sy dooie hond vertel, basies om self duidelikheid te kry oor sy eie lewe wat besig was om te ontspoor na sy vrou se dood. Hy besluit ook om aan sy (oorlede) vrou te skryf om haar te vertel dat hy lief was vir haar en sommer om haar op hoogte te hou van wat nou met hom te gebeur.

Wat besig is om met hom te gebeur is in der waarheid ‘n handvol. Eerstens moet hy op hierdie hoë ouderdom aan homself erken dat hy gay is, en dan moet hy uiteindelik, na baie draaie en verskonings, sy seun om verskoning vra dat hy hom weggejaag het van die plaas af omdat sy seun nie die beroep as predikant na sy kerk in sy tuisdorp (wat sy pa bewimpel het) wou aanvaar nie.

Dit is my eerste kennismaking met gay-literatuur (en dit nogal in Afrikaans!). Gelukkig is die gay storie meer suggestie as in-jou-gesig beskrywings. Maar tog is dit hoofsaaklik waaroor die boek gaan; die verweefdheid van lyf en siel, van kerk en Bybel en werklikheid, en dit is wat die boek kop en skouers bo ander Afrikaanse boeke laat uitstaan en wat dit so ‘n uitmuntende lees ervaring maak.

Daan se (letterkundige) vrou sterf aan kanker. Haar vriende wat al die jare vir haar kom kuier het is effens boheems en Daan die stoere boer, kom nie met hulle hoor die weg nie. Ten tyde van haar dood is die verhouding tussen Daan en sy vrou nie goed nie en dit laat hom met ‘n hoop self verwyte agter. Sy bure waarmee hy en sy vrou baie goeie vriende was, word vermoor. Hy beland in die tronk op aanklag van moord en sy verhouding met sy predikant en dié se vrou ontspoor tot so ‘n mate dat sy kerk hom onder sensuur plaas.

Op besoek aan sy seun en sy Chinese vrou in China maak Daan kennis met Daoïsme in ‘n Boeddhistiese tempel waar hy behandel word vir virtigo. Hy leer van die “Dao De Ching” van Lao Tsu (Die “Tao Te Ching” soos dit in Japan bekend staan), en van Tai-jï (Tai Chi in Japan). Hierdie verblyf in ‘n vreemde kultuur met sy vreemde godsdiens en vreemde gebruike krap die ou stoere Boer se lewe heeltemal om, maar bring ook insig en verandering. Hy maak vrede met sy seksuele oriëntasie, met sy seun se lewenswyse en sy seun se keuse om met ‘n Chinese vrou te trou.

Aan die einde van die boek kry mens tog die idee dat die boer Daan van Der Walt van sy plaas af weg is, maar dat die plaas nog nie uit Daan uit is nie. Die ou korrelkop Boer is nog steeds daar, sy geveg met sy kerk en sy predikant (waarmee hy ‘n seksuele “ondervinding” gehad het toe hulle op skool was en wat intussen dood is) is nie afgehandel nie. Hy verstaan nog nie heeltemal waaroor die Dao (die lewe) gaan nie. Sy katarsis moet hy nog beleef voor hy kan heel word.

Beslis ‘n boek om aan te beveel vir enige iemand wat leesstof soek wat iets om die lyf het (en nie oor dit oor manlike lywe in die kooi gaan nie. As jy pornografie wil lees sal jy dit op ‘n ander plek moet gaan soek). Die bibliografie  en die lys van Latynse aanhalings aan die einde van die boek gee jou ‘n idee van die gehalte van die inhoud van die boek en wat jy te wagte kan wees sou jy dit aanpak.

Gaan lees dit.

“My liggaam het die tydloosheid van die tempel opgesuig. Daar was ‘n kalmte oor my in die plek van afgodediens en stille meditasie.” (Daan van Der Walt)

Van tyd en ewigheid

Foto deur Hannlie

I Praise My Destroyer 

 Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899 – June 14,1986)

“Time is the substance I am made of:

 Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river;

it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger;

it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”

Ons keer altyd terug na: “Tat Twam Asi” – You are That. Alles is reeds een, was dit nog altyd en sal dit altyd bly.

Soos Kierkegaard sê: “a human being is a synthesis of the temporal and the eternal,”

Finite we are, whether we want to believe it or not. You are going to die, but in essence you are eternal; you are the river, you are the tiger, you are the fire. Schopenhauer said you are more than just the Platonic Idea of a river, or a tiger, or a fire, you are that in undying essence – but: “It is a fearful speculation — or, rather, a fearful knowledge — that, one day one’s eyes will no longer look out on the world. One will no longer be present at the universal morning roll call. The light will rise for others, but not for you.” (James Baldwin, August 2, 1924- December 1, 1987)

Op haar 90ste verjaarsdag

Vir my skoonma (Gezina, Wihelmina, Ras – Nee Pretorius 31 Julie 1925 – 9 April 2022) het daardie dag aangebreek, “the light will rise for us tomorrow, but not for her”. Haar dae van pyn en lyding is verby. Sy het ‘n goeie lewe gehad, beter as meeste mense. Daar was goeie dae en daar was slegte dae, die laaste sewe jaar was uiters moeilik (miskien meer vir ons as vir haar wat nie kon onthou nie).

Sy was ‘n goeie mens wat ook maar net soos ons almal deur die lewe proeter en die beste doen soos ons dink dinge gedoen moet word, en per geluk doen ons uiteindelik meer goed as kwaad.

Sy sal gemis word. Ons sal verlang, ons sal die goeie tye onthou, ons sal aangaan met ons lewens tot die dag ook vir ons aanbreek wanneer die Son vir ander sal skyn maar nie vir ons nie. Dit is die tragiese (of blye) menslike toestand.

Maria Popova:

“It is our singular human-made heartbreak that we often cope with our terror of loss — that deepest awareness of our own mortality — by losing sight of just how precious we are to each other, squandering in less-than-love the chance-miracle of our time alive together, only to recover our vision when entropy has taken its toll, when it is too late.”

Waarmee kan ‘n mens se lewe op aarde vergelyk word?

Met ‘n trop gaanse

wat opstyg oor ‘n sneeubedekte veld.

Somtyds laat hulle ‘n dowwe spoor van hulle verbyvlug agter.

Su Dong Po (1037 – 1101)

(Eie beskeie vertaling)

Slegte Tye

The face of war

Dit is moeilik om positief te bly in die tye waarin ons lewe. En tog …

Maria Popova:

In those seasons of being when life boughs you down low with world-weariness, when the sun of your soul is collapsing into a black hole, when you despair of humanity’s twin capacity for inhumanity and are no longer able to hold without heartache Maya Angelou’s eternal observation that we are creatures “whose hands can strike with such abandon that in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness” — in those seasons of being, there is great solace in remembering that what we call human nature, with all of its terrors and transcendences and violent contradictions, is a humble subset of nature itself: In nature, where stars are always being born and die and give us life, creation and destruction are always syncopating; in nature, the seasons are always changing; in nature, every loss reveals what we are made of, and that is a beautiful thing.

Ten spyte van al die geweld, van oorlog en dood gaan die natuur en die res van die skepping sy gang, tydsaam en medoënloos sonder om te vra hoe ons dit sou wou gehad het. En dit is, die geheel gesien, pragtig en sal pragrig wees lank na ons nie meer is nie.

John Burroughs (April 3, 1837–March 29, 1921) het gesê:

If I had my life to live over again, and had my choice of celestial bodies, I am sure I should take this planet, and I should choose these men and women for my friends and companions. This great rolling sphere with its sky, its stars, its sunrises and sunsets, and with its outlook into infinity — what could be more desirable? What more satisfying? Garlanded by the seasons, embosomed in sidereal influences, thrilling with continents — one might ransack the heaves in vain for a better or more picturesque abode

O to share the great, sunny, joyous life of the earth! to be as happy as the birds are! as contented as the cattle on the hills! as the leaves of the trees that dance and rustle in the wind! as the waters that murmur and sparkle to the sea! To be able to see that the sin and sorrow and suffering of the world are a necessary part of the natural course of things, a phase of the law of growth and development that runs through the universe, bitter in its personal application, but illuminating when we look upon life as a whole!

Look at the grass, the flowers, the sweet serenity and repose of the fields — at what price it has all been bought, of what warring of the elements, of what overturnings and pulverizings and shiftings of land and sea… We deplore the waste and suffering, but these things never can be eliminated from the process of evolution. As individuals we can mitigate them; as races and nations we have to endure them… and the evolution of life on the globe, including the life of man, has gone on and still goes on, because, in the conflict of forces, the influences that favored life and forwarded it have in the end triumphed.

Our good fortune is not that there are or may be special providences and dispensations, as our [ancestors] believed, by which we may escape this or that evil, but our good fortune is that we have our part and lot in the total scheme of things, that we share in the slow optimistic tendency of the universe, that we have life and health and wholeness on the same terms as the trees, the flowers, the grass, the animals have, and pay the same price for our well-being, in struggle and effort, that they pay. That is our good fortune. There is nothing accidental or exceptional about it. It is not by the favor or disfavor of some god that things go well or ill with us, but it is by the authority of the whole universe, by the consent and cooperation of every force above us and beneath us.

Ontspan en geniet die reis, wees geduldig met jou mede reisigers, wees lief vir hulle want dit is uiteindelik al wat jy het.

Maria Popova: Stardust

We make things and seed them into the world, never fully knowing — often never knowing at all — whom they will reach and how they will blossom in other hearts, how their meaning will unfold in contexts we never imagined. (W.S. Merwin captured this in the final lines of his gorgeous poem “Berryman.”)

Today I offer something a little apart from the usual, or sidelong rather, amid these unusual times: A couple of days ago, I received a moving note from a woman who had read Figuring and found herself revisiting the final page — it was helping her, she said, live through the terror and confusion of these uncertain times. I figured I’d share that page — which comes after 544 others (here are the first), tracing centuries of human loves and losses, trials and triumphs, that gave us some of the crowning achievements of our civilization — in case it helps anyone else.

Meanwhile, someplace in the world, somebody is making love and another a poem. Elsewhere in the universe, a star manyfold the mass of our third-rate sun is living out its final moments in a wild spin before collapsing into a black hole, its exhale bending spacetime itself into a well of nothingness that can swallow every atom that ever touched us and every datum we ever produced, every poem and statue and symphony we’ve ever known — an entropic spectacle insentient to questions of blame and mercy, devoid of why.

In four billion years, our own star will follow its fate, collapsing into a white dwarf. We exist only by chance, after all. The Voyager will still be sailing into the interstellar shorelessness on the wings of the “heavenly breezes” Kepler had once imagined, carrying Beethoven on a golden disc crafted by a symphonic civilization that long ago made love and war and mathematics on a distant blue dot.

But until that day comes, nothing once created ever fully leaves us. Seeds are planted and come abloom generations, centuries, civilizations later, migrating across coteries and countries and continents. Meanwhile, people live and people die — in peace as war rages on, in poverty and disrepute as latent fame awaits, with much that never meets its more, in shipwrecked love.

I will die.

You will die.

The atoms that huddled for a cosmic blink around the shadow of a self will return to the seas that made us.

What will survive of us are shoreless seeds and stardust.

Hierdie is geleen van Maria Popova uit haar “Marginalia” blog. Dit bring so ‘n bietjie perspektief op die onmeetlike waarvan ons elkeen net maar vir ‘n nano sekonde deel is … en tog glo ons die kosmos se bestaan hang van ons af, want ons is so belangrik.

Ukraine

Putin: As jy stil lê en so terug veg nie, sal dit nie so seer wees nie!

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 – 2022) was a Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk, peace activist, and founder of the Plum Village Tradition, historically recognized as the main inspiration for engaged Buddhism.

Nhất Hạnh was active in the peace movement and deep ecology, promoting nonviolent solutions to conflict and raising awareness of the interconnectedness of all elements in nature. (Wikipedia)

Ons groet ‘n ou meester.

Go gently into the Bardo old friend. May peace be with you.

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

 Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Sy laaste dae in sy geliefde Viëtnam
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