“Can I be happier than this?”
A rhetorical question, that is clear from the intonation. If you had to give an answer anyway, it would be ‘no’.

“Could I be happier than this?”
I hear myself uttering that question out loud as I sit snugly in my living room in Naxos. It makes me laugh. Because if that is not the highlight of being in the moment, of gratitude, then I don’t know what is.

After all, it’s only how you look at things. I’m in Naxos for only a week and it has rained almost continuously today. Very unusual, but still. My street has turned into a river again, so walking to the beach is not really an option. If I want to go into town, it is a perilous undertaking. I best make a detour via Mikri Vigla, which will take me about half an hour. But the alternative means a big chance of drowning my motor or getting stuck in the mud. (And believe me, I’ve been there: not much fun.)
The houses here are not built for cold winters, so a cosy warmth, as we know it in Belgium, possibly literally by the gas heater, is not an option here. The restaurants are closed except for a few. More than usual, because they have to work with a covid-pass and there are quite some self-willed islanders who do not choose for that and thus severely restrict their social activities. Coffee shops are partly closed for renovation. The bakers in Mikri Vigla is open when he thinks it is and so has left me standing at the door a few times. So no Freddo Cappucino.
And I am only talking about the local situation. Not to mention the rising energy prices or let alone the war in Oerkraïne.
When I think about that, I should almost be ashamed of my feelings. Or not. I hear myself saying to a friend who was cramped with fear at the doctor’s office: ‘It is indeed a terrible situation. But when we are afraind, it doesn’t help anyone. On the contrary. If we feel love and peace in our hearts, we radiate it and the world can only benefit from that.’

But so, I am happy.  I love those moments when I can feel it so intensely and especially, when I realise it. It clearly has nothing to do with the situation you’re in. (Or maybe it does, I am of course in Naxos. ;-)) It has mainly to do with an inner process. The feeling of being on the right path. Being able to make far-reaching decisions without it throwing you off balance. So no, it is not there by itself. Perhaps it is the result of years of inner work. But now I am reaping the fruits. And they are delicious fruits.

And so, at any given moment, I ask myself out loud: “Can I be happier than this?”

I couldn’t. I just couldn’t remove the appointment in my digital diary: ’14h: pick up Carine and Jo – bring them to Medusa’. Even their flight had unintentionally gotten into my diary. She had forwarded her flight details and my Gmail does its job.
But not so.
They’re not coming.
That has been decided for a while already. And you’d think I’d gotten used to the idea.
But not so.

So far, my time here has been, sort of ‘extra time’. The first three weeks were really extra: I would actually still be in Belgium at that time. Those were real work weeks too. After, I had planned two weeks of holiday. After all, I had worked hard in Belgium. From the end of April my agenda was open for individual retreats and it was time to prepare my first groups.
The individual retreats did trigger some interest and requests for information, but in the end a pandemic put a stop to actual bookings. So until now I would have been here alone anyway. But Friday my first guests would have arrived. They sounded very pleasant on the phone. I’m sure it would have been an intense and pleasant collaboration.
But not so.

So I didn’t remove the appointment and now that it’s getting closer and closer, I notice that it hurts.
It’s not gonna happen.
My groups won’t take place.
I can’t play, lead, seduce, accompany, surprise, tell, challenge, explain, guide, feed, inspire…
That, into which I’ve been putting all my passion for several years now, wants to floath.
But not so.

And the pain isn’t about the financial impact of all the cancellations. Not nice of course, but I am among the lucky ones who are supported by the Belgian State. So I’m going to survive.
No, it’s about a much more essential thing. It’s about my full potential that I can’t use if I can’t share my passion. It’s about living my mission. After all, that’s what I’m on this island for. Because the energy here provides the perfect soil for the personal growth of the people I’m allowed to feed.

(High-minded words, finds my humble self. But I follow a Deepak Chopra meditation-challenge about Abundance. And in that energy I allow myself to write it anyway.)

There is so much potential that cannot be used now. So it’s looking for another way out. In wood and shells, in paint and canvas, in saw and sandpaper. Time to feed myself, to rest, to play and discover. And to enjoy.

I’ll do it for all of you.
For Carine and Jo, for Ann-Marie, Lesly, Isabelle, Annelies, Krista, Ann, Kristel, Mieke, Mia, Hilde…
And yes, for you, too.
Because maybe you wanted to come.
But not so.

Day 5 of my quarantine. A day of rest, finally.

Everywhere I hear / read about ‘silencing’ and ‘repentance, ‘escape from the jigg’. So I think, “Euh?!” I’ve never been so busy here before.

Normally, when I arrive in Naxos, I arrive in a different time zone. Not only literally (we’re an hour ahead), but especially when it comes to the pace. Here it is ‘siga siga’! We take a siesta and let ourselves be guided by nature and the wind.
But now it is as if I have brought my Belgian time. In the night from Tuesday to Wednesday I got off the boat around half past one and 13 hours later I hadn’t unpacked everything yet, but I was already supervising behind my computer. And in the evening I had another meeting. And on it went the following days: online meetings, consultation, therapy, supervision, teaching …
And in between, of course, catching up with some friends and colleagues…

It seems everyone has suddenly discovered online contact. Because of my long stays here I really learned to appreciate skype or facetime. Often it is the icing on the cake of my fine life here: staying in paradise and still being able to keep in touch with a few special friends. But all of a sudden everyone seems to be into skype – or zoom, whereby, webex, whatsapp and so on…

Great, of course, but… a lot / too much.

So all my plans to slow down, do yoga, meditate with Genpo Roshi and finally watch those sessions of Tara Brach,… For now they have to wait a while.

It makes me restless and even a bit unhappy. But then I think of that African story:

Once upon a time, there was a man who had the guts to travel to the inhospitable parts of Africa. His only companions were the porters. Each of them held a machete and fought his way through the dense vegetation. Their goal was to continue at all costs.
When facing a river, they used as little time as possible to cross it. When a hill appeared, they accelerated their steps so as not to waste a single minute. But suddenly the porters stopped. The explorer reacted in surprise. For they had only been walking for a few hours.
So he asked them, “Why are you stopping? Are you tired already? We’ve only been walking for a few hours.”
Then one of the porters looked at him and said, “No sir, we are not tired. It’s just that we moved on so quickly that we left our souls behind. Now we must wait until our souls have caught up with us again.”

Yeah, that’s it, my soul still has to catch up with me.

So I accept I’m still living on Belgian time. I’ll take time to wait for my soul. Use my quarantine for that purpose. And after, the peace and quiet can come. When I’ll be able to walk to the sea – which I can’t allow myself to do for the time being. There I will find it.

I look forward to it, to that other time zone and especially to the arrival of my soul.