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BG 193 – Auda Cious

Auda Cious and her brothers Cons and Injudi are attending primary school.
They are being raised strictly at home and have learned that they not only should not put up a big mouth against adults, but they shouldn’t talk to them at all. Instead, they’re supposed to go play quietly somewhere and not bother the adults.
But Auda doesn’t understand what’s so ‘bothersome’ about a harmless conversation and why she can’t be a part of the same world as the adults. After all, she’s supposed to become one herself someday, right?

Auda assumes that the teachers at school are an exception to this rule. She’ll have to answer if they ask her a question. Oh wait, but that’s right, she can – actually, she must – answer if an adult asks her a question! But she has to be careful with what she says because not everything that happens or is said at her home is meant for other people’s ears.

For her age, she has a pretty good sense of when she can or cannot speak an answer aloud. Nevertheless, she finds it difficult to keep so many of her thoughts and emotions hidden.
The hardest part is that she must also remain silent when an adult, like a teacher at school, says something that is clearly not true. For example, when the teacher accuses a student of something she didn’t do. Then she sometimes can’t help but blurt out an unintentional but clear ‘Yes, but…, that’s not true!’

And when the teacher turns to her in anger and tells her, just like her parents, to keep her mouth shut, then sometimes her face turns red and tears well up in her eyes, as she can’t help but state, ‘Yes, but…!’, whereupon the teacher cuts her off, just like her parents, and gives her an angry ‘Shut your big mouth!’
‘Yes, but….’ her indignation still spills over.
Look, they may have taught her at home to keep her mouth shut, but sometimes you still have to, whether it’s allowed or not, you still have to say something, like ‘Yes, but that’s not fair!’

To which the teacher’s face turns red as well, pointing to the classroom door and angrily shouting, specks of spit flying: ‘Auda Cious, go stand in the hallway!’
‘Um, yes, sir.’
‘Shut your big mouth!’
Softer: ‘Yes, okay…’
He, louder: ‘Shut your damn mouth!’
She feels ashamed of being sent to the hallway, especially when she thinks about how her parents will find out and she’ll be punished again at home. ‘You must have thoroughly deserved that!’
But that ‘shut your big mouth’ doesn’t affect her anymore. She’s had to listen to that her whole life. She’s old enough to understand that it’s the helplessness of adults, of her parents.
Her parents who have no idea about what’s going on inside her and don’t even want to know. Her parents who want her to stay silent and obedient.
Who want to forcefully mold her into a shape she doesn’t fit into at all.

Auda isn’t actually audacious at all. She just can’t stand injustice.

BG 184 – Changed forever

They changed it, the sidewalk
in front of their house. They
put up a little bookcase there,
their ‘Little Free Library’.

Therewith they have changed
the experience of walkers and
cyclists on that sidewalk forever.
Henceforth those will think, whether

they like it or not, of books,
of reading, of shall I or shall
I not, of I’m actually in a hurry,
and I have no bag with me.

Or of: …

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BG 182 – Sex education

Some parents worry that school sex education leads to premature sex.
But I have never met parents who are afraid that their child will put into practice other things that they have been taught at school.

For example, they never seem to worry about their child starting to speak French as a result of French class, starting to help them with their tax returns after math class, starting to apply the laws of logic correctly after physics class (oops, sorry mom!), or starting to learn to play the piano after music lessons.

In fact, having a teacher (yuck!) explain sex to them, does not make it more attractive to them and rather causes them to put it off a little longer.

BG 179 – Special Compliment

Special compliment from various people over the years, for things she had (designed and) made herself:
‘So beautiful, how clever, it looks like it came from a shop!’

Seriously? You mean it looks like cheap mass production? Thanks…

BG 178 – Multiple lives

Everyone is free to believe what she or he (or they) wants and everyone else is free to agree or disagree.
Life knows no absolute and unchangeable truths, no matter how much we try to capture it in our stories and firm beliefs.
Having said that, I am of the opinion that some people have misunderstood the subject of multiple lives.
You cannot convince me that there will be other lives for me after my death.
Not as a human being and not as another living being, such as a favorite animal.
And it just seems pointless to me if such a next life is all about punishment or reward for the current one.
The shelf life of a living being is finite.
I’m more into science and not into wishful thinking, also where my own life is concerned. When I die, it’s over for me, and that’s fine.
I also don’t like the pseudo-science that would have us believe that our ‘soul’ is a tangible thing that *poof* leaves our body at death and that, weighing about 300 grams, then makes its way to a newborn next living being to live on in and learn new lessons in.
No, I think that, like all other living beings …

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BG 171 – All the times I missed you

That time when I was at that party, had just fetched two drinks and moved through the teeming mass of people with the drinking glasses at head height, while I thought I heard my name being called out somewhere in the crowd, but wasn’t sure, and I had to keep my attention while I maneuvered to the right spot, where a female friend was waiting for me, without spilling.
Or that time in the supermarket, when I had collected everything I needed in my shopping cart and I joined the queue for one of the cash registers, checking my watch to see if I would still be on time for my next appointment and then pulled out my debit card to pay with, so I didn’t see that you tried to get my attention from the queue in front of another checkout.
Or that time in the cinema, when, just before the film started, I was having an intense conversation with a good friend and we were almost bent over to hear each other better, just before the room lights went out and we were being urged to silence by the people around us (shhhh!), after which you became invisible like everyone else.
Or that time in the woods, when I …

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BG 161 – Detour

Belgians claim they are ‘born with a brick in their stomach’. By which they mean that they are always building, rebuilding and renovating. This applies not only to their houses, but also to their roads.
Despite this, the Belgians seem unable to make proper roads.

I come from the Netherlands, where the roads are much better and where there is also a safe and extensive cycle path network. That is why many Belgians who enjoy cycling or motorcycling regularly travel to the Netherlands. As a Dutch person, the deplorable state of the Belgian roads therefore strikes me even more.

We, for example, live in a street that is covered with cobblestones (in Dutch also referred to as ‘children’s heads’). They are probably intended to slow down traffic, after all, the maximum speed here is 30 km/h, but that doesn’t help, because …

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BG 158 – The new year

I am already getting used to the new year. I no longer accidentally think I’m still living in 2022. I put last year’s mess in the trash and kept the nice things. I have thrown away worthless stuff and stored what I can reuse in my warehouse full of possibilities. I cherish the positive and leave the negative behind (but first I learn lessons from it). Just like unimaginably large galaxies and microscopic small atoms I keep moving, as a small part of the immensely large and sometimes intimately small whole, as long as I still have some time, strength and energy left. Despite progressive wear and tear, I hope I will be allowed to experience some more new years. Together with the expansive, overwhelmingly beautiful, mysterious, unique, and sometimes oppressively heavy world around me and within me – I kick against, sink my teeth into, invent, create, wrap my arms around, and gently love the year 2023.

BG 152 – Women are better

Women are better!
No, not better than men (just as men are not better than women), but women are better, much better, than they think they are.
Most men overestimate themselves, while most women underestimate themselves. And that perpetuates the imbalance of power between men and women.
If women realized what talents they have, what capabilities they have and what their possibilities are, they could give their lives more meaning, find more fulfillment, be more independent and happier.
They could stop self-effacing, keeping quiet for the sake of peace, and putting up with unfair situations, whether private, social, or at work.
Women are better, much better, than they realize.

(I am aware that not every person feels that they fit into the male or female category and I respect that, but that is not the subject here.)

BG 148 – Populist politicians

The political debate was once a – combative – exchange of points of view and arguments of representatives of the people in order to reach agreement in the interests of the people. Nowadays it seems to be a stage for megalomaniac narcissists to present themselves to their followers.

Populists are people who manipulate you (frighten and reassure you) for their own sake and for their own popularity, through lies. Fortunately, democracy doesn’t end when populist leaders tell untruths. Most of the politicians and journalists just keep doing what they are supposed to do and keep refuting. This also gives the people the opportunity to pierce through shameless inaccuracies.

It is not out of malice that people …

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BG 142 – Sentence

She had her mind set on it and she couldn’t help but think she would and had to buy them, even if she had to first save up for it for months, and I just didn’t understand, and then she didn’t understand me in return, in an angry way, and I couldn’t understand why she wanted to make herself disabled deliberately, wanted to make herself vulnerable, why she wanted to limit herself so that she couldn’t get away quickly if she had to, why she would choose to not be able to walk or stand without staggering and without pain, and she thought that was utter nonsense, why from now on she would only want to walk on uneven paving stones holding onto the arm of someone else, probably a handsome man, which seemed like a good idea to her, and why she felt that she would be much more attractive if she forced her body into an unnatural position, but she thought it was not that bad; and why on earth she wanted to appear four inches taller, because what was wrong with her own height and posture, she thought herself too small and too unnoticed; and I simply couldn’t understand why she was willing to deal with that discomfort and pain, why she would from now on after going out throw those things into a corner, cursing and tending to her latest blisters and wounds over and over again, but she thought that was ridiculous because greatly exaggerated; and I just couldn’t understand why she was willing to spend so much money on things that were bad for her body: for her feet, her joints, her back vertebrae and neck vertebrae; because they were so beautiful, she claimed; and I just couldn’t understand why she thought she would get all the attention she craved, and she thought that was a stab in the back, if from now on she were to squeeze her feet into overpriced shoes with sky-high stiletto heels; and what on earth was wrong with that, she asked, and why I was bothering with it, she asked angrier, and I asked her what on earth was wrong with just being able to walk without pose and pain, and what was wrong with feeling comfortable in your own body and with facing people, men, without unnecessary vulnerability and submission, to face them strongly and proudly instead; but I guess she didn’t hear me anymore.

BG 138 – Your path

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. You are not that other person. That other person does not follow the same path as you and does not take the same turns. Make your own choices. Choices that will take you where you want to go, or take you away from where you no longer want to be. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday and see if you are on the right path today. Your right path.

BG 137 – Average city folks

look at them go
between the houses
offices, apartment buildings, high-rises
over asphalt, along concrete
hurried, rushed, stressed
constantly surrounded by
noise, light, bustle
traffic, commerce
traffic jams, air pollution
their gaze and attention on
their electronics

barely aware of
their own inner self, let alone
of nature, of the
wonder of the universe
that surrounds them
of life itself …

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BG 134 – The Clap Cow

This morning The Maakster on her daily walk through Quiet Belgian Village came along the Noensewegel, an idyllic bicycle/footpath with on the right, behind a wire mesh fence and then a ditch, cows in meadows. It was customary in good weather for a group of cows to be in one of the meadows, but this time the farmer had spread them over several ones, probably because he had recently made hay and there was not much left to eat per field.

The Maakster stopped to look at a cow that lay close to her, a meter from the ditch, ruminating, each time banging her teeth together with a remarkable noise. As if she had bad fitting dentures.
It was really just an ugly animal. It had a dirty white color with a few light gray spots here and there that looked like you could just rinse them off with a garden hose. But she had something special: that clapping of her teeth. The beast struggled to get up with her thick elongated body on rather short legs, …

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BG 130 – Curb our greed

What if we stop producing and consuming a lot of unnecessary products? Those products that are produced only to keep the economy going and to fill the infinitely deep pockets of the rich industrialists. Especially disposable products.
What if we focus on what we really need and produce that in the most sustainable way possible?
That we make considerations: better a little more of this and a little less of that.
On the Earth’s surface that we now use to produce meat, especially beef, we can grow a hundred times as much plant-based food.
That way we also remove a lot of carbon from the air, instead of adding more to it.
We don’t necessarily have to become vegetarians, after all we are omnivores by nature, but a few days a week without meat will do us no harm, if we make sure that we get the nutrients we miss that way through other products.
What if we strive for a circular economy, in which waste materials form the raw materials for the production of other, sustainable products?
In which we give away what we no longer need to …

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BG 96 – What we are looking for

We all find what we are looking for.

If we look for negativity, for destruction, decay, degradation, quarrels, for doomsday scenarios and for differences between us and the other, we will find those.

But if we look for love, for construction, positivity, cooperation, for solutions to difficult problems and for similarities between us and the other, we will find THOSE.

Our happiness in life largely depends on what we look for, what we focus our attention on, and what we put our energy into.