text by Bea Graansma

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 157 – Too honest

In the early morning she had left by public transport, from her hometown in the north of the Netherlands on her way to the Mediapark in Hilversum, to audition for the tv quiz The Weakest Link.

(In it, candidates take turns answering questions at a rapid pace that are asked by a so-called strict female presenter. Before being asked a question, each candidate can press the button and shout ‘bank’ to secure the amount the team has accumulated so far. In case of an incorrect answer, the counter goes back to zero. The longer the chain of correctly answered questions, the higher the amount to be banked. At the end of each round of questions, the candidates write down and read aloud who they think was the weakest link in that round. The presenter humorously embarrasses a candidate here and there and then asks one or more of them why they voted for that particular person. They are supposed to give an original and witty answer. The one with the most votes is eliminated – “With four votes you are… The Weakest Link! Goodbye!” – and then has to leave the game in shame through the center of the circle. The next round is therefore played with one less candidate. The last two candidates standing will play against each other to ultimately win the accumulated amount of money.)

The journey was long and tiring, but she arrived in time. After she had registered at the reception desk, she was handed a stack of papers and a ballpoint pen and shown the way to a canteen, where dozens of people, alone or in groups, were already seated around big round tables. She had to write down answers to all kinds of questions…

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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 141 – The Swing Realm

“Not too high on that swing!” shouted an unfamiliar male voice behind her. But she didn’t care. The construction creaked every now and then, but it was able to support her almost mature body just fine. With her hands tightly wrapped around the rough ropes, sitting on the smooth-worn oak plank, she swung her legs straight forward and hanging in the ropes with the wind through her hair she went higher and higher.

At the highest point she felt for a moment like her intestines made a little jump, then she swung back down again. Past the lowest point she pulled her feet up toward the plank. High up at the back she hang motionless for a split second before whizzing forward again with even more speed and stretched legs, pulling on the ropes.

She went higher and higher. She felt like she was flying, like she was being released from the ground, from this playground, from her old neighborhood, from her narrow minded home.
Woohoo! Higher and higher! Forward – stretch, backward – fold.
Stretch – fold, stretch – fold, stretch – fold.
She could already look over the trees in the distance and see miniature houses and tiny cars and tiny people moving.
A sense of ultimate freedom washed over her.

“Not so high on that swing!” the same male voice called from behind her. Oh no? …

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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 136 – Music and Time

One of the reasons we humans love music so much is that it gives us a grip on time. The time that often makes us feel powerless, by flying by relentlessly. We grasp it with music, connect it to tones, to rhythms and to melodies. We give structure to time and arrange it so that we can enjoy it. The basis of music is usually a fundamental rhythm, much like our heartbeat, or, on a grander scale, the coming and going of hours, days and seasons. That rhythm, that variable beat, dictates the tempo and keeps track of time for us. Precisely because life is so fleeting, we naturally like patterns and repetitions, recognizable rhythms and arrangements and unexpected deviations from them. Music influences our heartbeat and triggers emotions in us. We can influence our perception of time with the help of music and shape it to our own pleasure. And, unlike clock time, which is already behind us before we are aware of it, we can experience music over and over again whenever we want.

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 133 – Special Compliment

Special compliment from the deputy director, when she was his secretary and went through his mail with him:
‘Wait a minute, stop working, I’ve been wanting to ask you this for a long time: why are you on that side of the desk and not on my side?’

BG 132 – 100 Words Fiction

Damn tree with shit birds

Lying on his back, in the young grass, under the curly hazel.
The branches move gracefully in the wind. The leaves are bright green, the sky above blue, the sheep clouds cute white.
He shuts out the city noises, concentrates on the twittering of the birds.
Magpies, magpie-birds. There are two in the curly hazel every day.
The same every day? He doesn’t know, he can’t tell them apart.
She will not come again. Not today, not tomorrow, not all summer.
She will never see the magpie-birds with him again.
Goddamn, right in his eye!

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 129 – Why healthy?

I used to live in a time when you still
had to answer yourself for healthy living,
instead of unhealthy.
A time when you ate (sweets) without limits,
because diabetes was only for old people,
and you were naturally slim.
A time when you had to come up with
strong arguments not to smoke
and to refuse to drink alcohol,
(and to read many books and
to enjoy doing your homework.)
Healthy living was still for wimps back then.

BG 128 – Special Compliment

Special compliment from a visitor:
‘I have looked at your blog and find it beautiful and interesting!
But it seems like something goes wrong when I look at it: all I see is black and white and gray, the colors seem to have disappeared.
You better fix that.’

BG 123 – Birthday

Today I turned 58 years old.
You can’t call that middle age with the best will in the world, unless you believe I’m going to live to be 116 years old.
I am already well over halfway and already quite worn out, but I have learned many wise lessons.
That we ourselves determine the meaning of our lives, for example.
That we should not let other people determine who we are and what we should do with our lives.
That life consists of time, that it is finite, that it seems to go faster and faster.
That we ourselves also consist of time and are therefore finite. That this finiteness makes life worth living, makes it precious.
And that we can give meaning to that fleeting time by …

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BG 110 – Thoughts on the internet and social media

There is nothing inherently wrong with the internet and social media.
They are very useful and popular.

But because politics, education, healthcare and legislation always lag behind technological developments, especially since the exponential growth that is inherent to digitization, a number of things have been messed up.
– A handful of computer geeks have become absurdly rich with the introduction of the internet, online commerce and social media. It’s time we pump those extreme riches back into society. We could even use that money to solve climate problems and restore nature.
– That same handful of computer geeks have become far too powerful for lack of appropriate legislation. It is high time we gave that power back to our elected representatives.
– A large group of users of the internet and social media have inadvertently become addicted to dopamine kicks, addicted to shopping, victims of psychological problems and/or convinced of extreme and incorrect ways of thinking.

But now back to the technology.
The internet is a wonderful system that gives the majority of people access to almost all existing knowledge. We all benefit from that.
Social media were created to facilitate and revolutionize our social interaction. That also worked out well.
But not in the way we envisioned.

Guess what? …

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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.