Dousemente Saint Louis

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It takes me five long impatient days until my manic insecurity dies down, during this time I revisit every single angle and crook of low self esteem, self doubt, and bunches of other guck that surface on the edge of aloneness, unemployment, stillness. Withdrawal symptoms from the constant purposefully, meaninglessly busy of the last three years.

Saint Louis is a perfect place to recover from the multiple neurosis of western big city life. The town in chaotic and serene, lined with trash, and sweeping water views of river and ocean. The historic town has beautiful large houses with bourganvillas spilling over the sides, restful eateries, boulangeries and bars, a mosque lined with praying men along the wall towards the river, art and craft galleries, an antique cruise ship, and loads of sweet, sweet nothing to do. It is an incredibly historic place which used to be capital, when the wind blows a certain way, I can almost think I am in Salvador for a second. There is a similar sense of dignity and place in the world, slow liveliness and communion with the sea. 
The historical town is attached to the town on the mainland on one side and to the hydrobase island on the other side. 

 I stay in hydrobase, with ocean view and a 45 minutes​ walk into town through bustling streets with everything for sale, weaving through children who want to touch your hand, horse carts, taxis, busses, women in wax print dresses, men in squeaky white shirts contrasting ebony skin, motos, lots and lots of goats, kittens and dogs napping in the shade, laundry drying on lines, a myriad of shops and street vendors selling mangos, mobile credit, electronics, jewelry, milk, baguette, spices, horse food, construction material, and anything else ur heart may desire (no photos from town, too much to take in without whipping out the camera)

 I hang around in town with Babacar who arranged a pirogue tour for me the first day, and get to know duzins of people in the span of a few hours and two coffees. Taranga, hospitality, means stories and smiles. There are also a few puppy eyed disbelievers when I return an unfortunate answer​ to the question ‘madam ou mademoiselle?’

After a few days the hostel fills up. I spend one day roaming around with and translating between two guys who met on bicycle in Morocco and joined paths to cross all the way through Mauritania without having a common language. Another girl is planning for adventures in the Sine Saloum delta and I decide to tag along for a few days before heading back to Dakar. On my last day I can’t shake the melancholy of saying goodbye, there is something tender, thick and sweet in the air, that molasses that makes up the feeling of home.

Last night in Dublin

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By the time I’ve removed glitter, mascara and smog from my face its 23:00. I change into pajamas and make a cup of herbal tea I brought back from home last time, and think of my childhood friend who always stock this particular blend in his kitchen cabinet.

I can’t connect to the hotel wifi so I switch on the hotspot on my phone and look at the time again, consider what time I should get up tomorrow. I need to pack my backpack and have breakfast before 11. 8 o’clock should do. 

Nathaniel is taking my Mac and phone to the office so it doesn’t have to stay in my unlocked room while we are on holiday. We may get new roomies in the meantime. 

This means I won’t have my Mac Friday night though, and I need to do my expenses before the weekend. I can do them in the morning, but then I would have to get up quite early. Giuliano wanted to go for an ocean dip in the morning as well, but since she is still out I think the pressure is off.

The chat connects, there are 63 messages from the crazy kids still at the bar, now another one. Two team mates are already back at the hotel though, having admin/PJ party like myself. I rub the lenses of my glasses to remove a stain, then send a selfie to the group chat. I check my personal phone, Loverman aka Merman has not replied yet, did he go to bed without texting me goodnight? I message mum and a friend, then leave it next to me.

I find the receipts I have already sorted for last week first. Personal phone vibrates, its Merman telling me goodnight. I smile and crawl a bit deeper under the covers.


A call for the ancestors

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”So… okay… wait” my friend draws out a notepad and a pen. And writes the words ‘mother’, ‘father’ and ‘Mie’ and asks me to explain again the structure of my family.

”Mum and dad had me, and my brother. Also my mum had two sons from a previous marriage. Then mum and dad got divorced, dad married again, and this one becomes my step mother. Then they divorce and she adopts me” a thin line grows deeper between my friend’s eyebrows. He is concentrated for a while, then looks up again.

”Whose name did you put down for the ancestor ceremony?”

”The father of my father…” I write ‘father’s father’ above ‘father’ in the notebook and circle it .

”Oh I see. And why did you chose to pray for him?”

”My father’s father participated in the second world war, not fighting, but as an administrative worker. He was editor of a newspaper and made propaganda to get young Germans to join the army.. I feel like my father’s family has a strong charge form this involvement with the Nazis, an intellectual hardness without connection to the heart”

”Was he kind to you?”

”When I was born he was already a very old man, and I remember him vaguely as a little child. I think he treated me well, I was a small child anyway, when he died”

When I had done the research to find out the needed information about my grandad in order to put his name down for the ancestor ceremony and found a photo of him online, looking at it had made me shake nervously. For some reason. I never had any special strong sentiment towards my grandfather, but I felt reconnecting with the whole field of my father’s family was quite significant – just as it had been to break it.

I feel my grandfather still carries some of the energetic charge from the war with him on the other side, and all this apart, there was much pain and violence between my father and his parents…

I went to Shumei one last time before leaving for Japan last week, to change the pouch on my Ohikari and share Jyorei (healing). I first received Jyorei, and as the energy surrounded me my pappa suddenly popped into my mind.

When we changed and I started giving Jyorei I became aware of the field between my pappa and my granpa, and felt light flowing into a deep pain, I started to cry and tried not to sniffle too much to not distract my friend who was on the receiving end of the energy.

At the ancestor ceremony in Misono, many people came. We queued in neat lines half an hour before the start. The ancestors were called collectively, with four men dressed in white calling them with ghostly moans, then they were offered food and flowers. One woman fainted. The transformation had already happened for me – time does not exist in a linear way in the dimension of the spirits, intention opened way for love… and I felt so much lighter

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Ko-hee, friends and trees

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”sleepy?”

”yess… no coffee in Misono, I never really wake up!”

”ooh, here you can have ko-hee every day, just ask someone to make it. Every afternoon you can drink ko-hee”

– And such was the conversation that gave me very strong and warm sisterly feelings towards Hide. While Misono is a bit claustrophobic for my taste, with all its elegant meticulousity, the little model farm upholds a sane level of beauty and elegance, the snip of the toilet paper is still neatly folded, and every inside surface cleaned several times per day, but in the farm work it is like anywhere else. We throw around things and some fall on the side, people exchange roles fluently and each person moves to the role which is needed, there is chit chat about everything and nothing, with shy laughs when things get lost in translation, and every once in a while a song.

” Hide I have something to ask that you might find weird because it is not in your culture.
You see, for my spirituality it is very important to go into nature, and touch the soil, hug the trees to really connect, now I see all this amazing forest around and I really really want to take a walk inside it…”

Hide’s face goes blank, then he translates to the others, laughing.

”so you want to go into the forest? For me its fine, I think there are no bears… it might be the only problem if trees fall… maybe its a problem”

Hide needs to call Taka, who is my official caretaker on the trip, to get approval. Then comes back to me.

”so… tomorrow afternoon after lunch you can go have a walk. How long would you like to stay in the forest?”

”maybe some two hours?”

”two hours?!” Hide laughs again…

Later same day after lunch cooked on the traditional wood-stove Eri brings me a whole thermus of ko-hee, and sits down next to me to chat until she is called back into the kitchen. I stay seated on my pillow on the floor and pour myself a second cup and a third, and keep the cup close to my face as I change between inhaling and sipping, as I fall into the gentle music and the fresh air coming from the open door.

The house’s sensei brings me three little packages of ready to use drip filter kohee.

”special gift”

Indeed it is

”Arigatooo gozaimasu”

Next day indeed I go into the forest, in the pouring rain, to the one temple where I truly feel at home. And Eri brings me more ko-hee, more beautiful, beautiful ko-hee.

Peace quietens the space around me, and my heart expands into the great one-life.

Arigato gozaimasu….

 

 

 

 

 

Misono days

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With a babbling brook outside our bamboo covered windows, and all the simplicity I have been yearning for my whole live in our bamboo mat covered room with two futons and a low table a night in Misono could not be any more peaceful.

The days however can leave you out of breath. Morning call is at 6:00 am but in order to perform the mandatory ritual cleaning of the bathroom before breakfast 5:45 is more realistic. After the cleaning a clothes change is required as you cannot enter the temple in work clothes or jeans. Then breakfast is served in the canteen two floors up – our meals are rice, soups and tea three times a day. After washing the adorable little bowls and placing each part back in its original place, and head towards the temple were you wash hands and mouth in the fountain, and bow in all the right places on the way to the entrance where you cover your shoes with plastic slippers before coming inside Meishusama’s hall (which reminds me of Mariko Mori’s imaginary of a space ship: elegant, feminine, bright and deliciously beautiful, though less colourful – no photos allowed inside so you will have to trust me xD).

After morning service with chanting and Jyorei (healing sharing) we change clothes to work and go for dedicated hoshi activity. The point is not what work you do, but to focus the mind on selfless service for the happiness of all beings – in my case means turning over soil and making compost outside in the fresh mountain air. NOT BAD. (most of the other hoshi tasks are Cinderella inspired jobs such as cleaning floor or mattresses on your knees, scrubbing the kitchen etc.)

After hoshi the clothes change again and we venture back into the temple for evening service, followed by bowing, rice, greetings, and my dear Brazilian friend with much eloquence extorting sexy Japanese phrases from our very shy Japanese friend.

After all this left is only to roam around the reception area to pick some wifi to talk to my boo, or finding our Sensei to see if he will break the tea monotony with a oh so beautiful whiff of coffee, or as we say ”ko-hee”. I haven’t made it to a ko-hee encounter yet though, I have mere managed to collapse on futon, and as it says in the sleeping instruction manual (because everything in japan comes with a manual): ”lastly please get into bed and sweet dreams”

Tomorrow 05:45 repeat…

Blue hair, Body glitter, Black Blazer

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”MIIIIIIEEEEE……. !? Where are you?” I ask the mirror image of a scruppy little puppy dog who looks like someone who hasn’t had coffee or a proper hug in a year.

There is no answer, except for two expanding pupils wanting to give me all the space in the world and a wet glare on my eye balls, wanting to wash out the greyness of my soul.

I have always shrugged it off when my friends get the birthday blues. Getting older is great! I keep telling you, savor!

…..but then suddenly its sneaking and creaking, those ghostly voices in the corners that whisper that I’m gonna be 30 soon, and I am not where I’m supposed to be, that I let my moment pass me by, that my glamour has fallen off, that this is, as good as it gets….

And then I, I just…. feel colour slowly being drained out of my visions of life and the world until all I’m left with is a grey, windy tunnel narrowing in front of me as the world gets less and less exciting….. :’-O

HELP. You need to be a kick ass human being to still feel meaning, love and joy after spending year after year being a mind numbingly responsible adult. You carry getting worried about paying rent, freezing your butt off to manage the bills, and being tired, hung up and frustrated about work, violence, ignorant media, wars, menstrual cramps, male chauvinism, bad music and all the sourass holes you meet on your way, who bump into you in the metro, cut in front of you in the queue, disappear with your rent deposits, and grieving the fact that you every day turn more and more into one of those sour-assed bastardettes yourself O.O

I need a break. And then they still tell me not to complain because I have a job, and I don’t get bitten on it (my friend does, and she also gets paid half of what I do).

In either case 3 0 is coming for me and with all this crap around I felt the need to prepare a bit to avoid the Birthday blues turning into any kind of tragic self hating events of putting myself down for succumbing to our uggously ageist society.

So I went ahead and bought a 75 pound lack blazer from Benetton. Oh me so snazzy, if I must wear grown up clothes let them be gorgeous!

Got my first pair of glasses – I will finally once again be able to find my gate at the airport without use of a seeing eye dog

….and of course I coloured my hair green and blue and went to Camden’s most awesome rave store Cyberdog to retrieve my life’s most beautiful and expensive little pot of multi coloured body glitter, followed by a trip in the rain to get too big canvasses to so tender and lovingly destroy. Because I truly feel responsible for painting any grey object with colour and sparkle, that’s why Goddess made me, and all the rest is just passing time.

 

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Also, I got a ticket for Japan, but that’s another story…