Senhor Zé da Cruz by Leone Holzhaus, Oil on canvas

(Nederlands) (português)

“Parar é morrer!”

As she says that, her hands go up in the air. I have just told my dear friend that I am going to close the yoga studio. She explains firmly that stopping is the same as dying.

It is a common expression in Portugal that is widely used today in the fight against obesity but originally comes from a completely different angle. From the time when obesity did not yet exist and poverty did. And that is where my friend comes from. Helping on the land before and after school and earn money for the family pot after primary school. For example, in the winter for days on your knees in the cold and rain and snow picking the olives that had fallen from the tree. The pickers were then allowed to keep those to make some oil for themselves. Money could be made with farm work and house cleaning.

That generation managed to build something for itself by not being in debt, living economically, saving and working. They bought or inherited a piece of land and built their own house brick by brick. They were not able to quit working to take care of their own parents. They go to a nursing home. And then this happens: they freeze, get sick, get medicine, are very unhappy, miss their vegetable garden and daily activities and become nursing home patients and then, yes, they die.

The next generation, in their thirties and forties now, suffers from stress and obesity. They went to college and mainly became managers in something. Suffering and complaining, these young people go through life and have a house with a mortgage, a car from the bank and modern status. And then Corona came. Everything stopped. The blow was huge. Especially for the high-debt generation.

We are not bothered by all this. We have no relationship with the bank. Everything is own property. And yet something happened to me when everything stopped. I dropped everything out of my hands in mid-March and didn’t even touch my keyboard for a month. In my last blog I wrote about how to get out of your cocoon.

For the first time in my life, I had time to think about my life, about the usefulness of everything. I had never not worked. So after 50 years of being active in the “labor market” it felt like a holiday and I don’t like that very much. As a young girl I used to loath school holidays. The last months I’ve been doing all kinds of things on the land, in the garden, in the kitchen, behind the sewing machine and sitting quietly, even reading books. I have dismissed the question of how it should go on in the knowledge that one day the answer will appear.

It happened last Friday. I woke up early in the morning and knew what to do. I jumped out of bed and started writing.

Stopping is indeed dying, I thought, and not always literally. What has died in me is the idea that I always have to work and need obligations. Apparently I can live without all that – although it did take time – and I love it. I’ve discovered that in recent months. That is why I close the yoga “company”. It started as one lesson for friends and grew to four to six lessons a week. All kinds of workshops were given in my studio and it grew into a small center. I’m not saying I’m quitting teaching. I’m going to do it differently. And how? That will unfold. Time will tell.

Stopping gives room for self-reflection and the insight that follows lets something die that you no longer need in life. So I now have plenty of room to give my writing a leading role.