“What is that which always is and has no becoming; and what is that which is always becoming and never is? That which is apprehended by intelligence and reason is always in the same state; but that which is conceived by opinion with the help of sensation and without reason, is always in the process of becoming and perishing and never really is.”
Jesus. The answer came to me directly. There, a messiah. I just solved the ancient riddle of the Greek philosophers.
Recently I met a friend after many years. I was quite pleased she reached out, asking me to set a date for coffee. In fact when I moved to Amsterdam I expected that this would happen often, tried to initiate contact but most often it didn’t manifest. So instead of meeting old tenuous connections from my past I attended tango, yoga, etc. to form new connections and routines. Now three years down the road, my friend, unemployed, has time and sent me a message.
What did I know about her, I mused, from all those years ago? She was still petite, vivacious, her black eyes sparkled. I am living in a small apartment in the city center, actively pursuing my interests which have nothing to do with forming a relationship of any sort. Fleeing attachment, I’ve been thinking about my oasis, a little patch of calm, as a gift of grace. She, on the other hand, not having had a long term relationship was still actively looking for the true love of her life while squatting in 27 square meters of studio.
I remember, years ago in Paris, I lived in a chamber de bonne on the top floor of the American Church. There were three of us, au pairs, housed in a row of small rooms along the top floor. We each had a sink and a closet, mine was without doors. Next to me an entrepreneur organized his resale business, he trolled garbage bins for saleable items and housed them next to the elevator for short periods. He’d lugged up a complete spiral staircase once, with those gravel encrusted cement pedal steps. He’d done this in the middle of the night one Parisian spring month before his plans for conquering Russia consolidated. At the end of the row lived a divorcee. She was American, had been married to a Frenchman, and was co-parenting a teenager. Whispers about domestic violence in her past (the church was secured) and her quiet zen like countenance embraced her; she was kind and sometimes invited me to drink tea in her room, sitting on the floor. I believe Marie Kondo, organizational angel of great tidings and seeker of holistic appreciation, would have approved of her lifestyle. We each had 9 square meters of space and I was drowning in mine, my stuff tumbled out of the closet despite numerous attempts to organize it. The divorcee seemed to have sussed out a supreme minimal lifestyle, a few decorative cardboard boxes served as furniture and decor.
Keeping this type of reduction in mind, I use and purge continually. While the realization that nine square meters would be a gut wrenching challenge, I happen to be blooming in 30 odd square meters. But then I had the twenty year relationship, the trips around the world, the garden, the hassles of home repair, the bouts of marital discord. I sat and looked at the lovely woman across the table from me, describe a series of terrible employment engagements, low professional ambition, swimming around the same menial job pool for the last twenty years, and realized she had never gotten the chance to break out of the student life situation, and there she stayed. As she spoke I realized she was still in her mind a student, young and open to showing whomever entered her atmosphere the warmth of her heart. Why would I want her to feel any different or curtail her dreams? She could always establish a new starting line, after all we all reconsider the map after discovering a path yet untaken.