During the morning I usually drink one glass of coffee. Size large espresso, with some cream. I always look forward to that moment. And I always stir my coffee with the same spoon. With this one you see in the photo. My drawer is full of silver spoons. All from the family. This one comes from my husband’s mother and maybe even from his grandmother. Like my family, they also lived in the former Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and brought with them tangible memories.
I like to study this spoon. I think it’s cleverly made; a flat surface that expresses depth. A man on a cart pulled by eight water buffalos, with a palm tree in the foreground. It doesn’t get more Indonesian.
Every day I am so reminded of my Dutch-Indonesian past. I see the paddy fields before my eyes; I smell the land, feel the damp heat and hear the sounds of tropical nature. I feel the rhythm of my parents’ country in my gut. That is the only rhythm that runs synchronously with me, with who I am. And that spoon actually acts as an anchor, a reminder.
Here, where I live, in the hinterland of Portugal somewhere in the mountains, I don’t really need that spoon anymore as an anchor, because the rhythm of Portugal is synchronous with my native Dutch-Indonesian rhythm. Being allowed to live with so much ease and with so few incentives that have nothing to do with a natural life is a blessing to me. I can still heave a sigh of relief about this gift, almost every day.
My life before Portugal was excellent. Totally self-made with the ingredients that I received from my educators and environment. I think I delivered a nice piece of work. I have developed all possible talents, raised children, earned a living and many times I jumped into the unknown. Out of my comfort zone. Especially those jumps brought me a lot. And this latest leap to the place where I now live has again brought many revelations. I know myself better than ever and am able to stay in my tropical rhythm and to grow towards a more conscious person.
It was practically impossible for me to experience that growth in an environment where nature is hard to find. Where the economic and digital pressure is so high that there is no time left to tune in with your self. Only the intention and pretence are there. It is not real deep.
A weekend in the woods, cycling, a beach walk. Whatever you do. The pressure remains. And of course man is strong enough – in most cases – to deal with it. The only question is: why should you?
I see young people with small children who have consciously left the big city to settle here. With few resources; without any certainty they become extremely creative in earning some money to live. It is a relief to see. There is time to live. And the funny thing is that everyone has to learn that. First the pace is still high and the Portuguese mentality is the best tool for learning to slow down. The locals are never in a hurry.
My past is my present. The old spoon that travelled around the world slowly stirs my brown coffee and white cream into a homogeneous Portuguese glass of coffee.