It usually hits me when I’m cycling. The physical motion is inviting to a state of mindfulness and, from there, this inner-awareness often arises. It starts out with this feeling that there’s something I need to get rid of. As if I were carrying too many things on me, things that ‘don’t belong’. I might be tired, feel spaced out, or unsettled.
It was January 2014. From the beginning of that month, I would have to commit to a Dutch language course, every Tuesday and Thursday evening, at a building called De Potgieter, located at a pretty square in Amsterdam West. I had finished a beginner’s course around one year before that. The municipality of Amsterdam, who was paying for my studies, had stated I could not postpone the attendance of the second level anymore. Otherwise, they would stop financing me. Sounded fair. It was a now or never situation, thus. I was hoping it’d work.
“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so you apologize for the truth” // Benjamin Disraeli
“I am afraid I can’t fall in love anymore”, my friend tells me, with a smartphone in hand, his Tinder account left open. The shiny screen he holds so tightly is a promise of happiness in the form of endless beautiful faces smiling at you, stating availability, opening a passage to something greater than the dullness of everyday life, the loneliness most of us know all too well.
Should I really write about this?
Here’s yet another photo of my laptop, gazing the viewer from a terrace on a sunny day, cappuccino on the side. The caption reads: “all the perks of freelancing summed up in one photo”. I posted this and proceeded to make calculations on how to pay next month’s rent, followed by sending e-mails asking when am I supposed to get honorariums from jobs I have long ago delivered.
I realise the irony of the situation and decide to make up for the delusory image. Next story I post, same picture, different caption: “Hey, don’t be fooled. There are plenty of downs, too. Should I write about this?”.
In August 2017 I wrote this little piece on feeling sombre while I was house-sitting at a friends’ place in De Pijp. I had no house of my own at the time and that might have contributed to the gloominess that took hold of me. However, I believe that this could have taken place on a regular day, on regular life circumstances, and I want to share it with you today. “Sad is bad” is how this piece started. Well, let’s move on to the text and you’ll probably see what I mean.