Traveling to a city second or third time in a row to me is like… well, like having a quickie with one’s loving long-term partner. First time there is that overwhelming excitement, expectations of all sorts to be met, then, the fear to miss something from the sightseeing and then feel like a complete idiot if asked:”What, you haven’t seen XY?!”
Prior to my first visit to Amsterdam, i had conducted a research on the city worthy of a phd thesis. During the stay, for two weeks, early in the morning i’ leave my best friend’s downtown apartment equipped with all sorts of guides and maps and carrying the inevitable camera i’d commence my daily chore… that is, sightseeing. I’d visit three museums per day, i’d walk for miles and i’d make endless notes in my diary while taking zillion of pictures, so not to forget anything.
I guess i did enjoy that stay – on rare occasions, when i’d allow myself to relax for a moment, those moments very few though.
I don’t regret it, knowing my perfectionist and obsessive little self, i know that i’d feel utterly miserable was it any other way (more so that it’s then that i wrote that poem in prose which i still think to be my best work: A dream about canals in Amsterdam, in which the water was murky )…
But, boy, did i enjoy the stay last week when all i did was merely strolling the city streets no rush, no must-sees!
I was hanging around the Waterlooplein, Amsterdam’s historical Jewish quarter – most conveniently, my best friend actually lives there – and i was whistling to the tune of Joe Dassin’s Les Champs Élysées (can’t sing, i don’t speak Dutch, so whistling was is the best i could do, but here is the original “Oh, Waterlooplein” for you:
Most interestingly, the I Ching reading i did beforehand resulted in Hexagram Work on what has been spoiled; here is how my favorite contemporary I Ching scholar, Hilary Barrett, interprets it: “Corruption opens the possibility of starting at the source: going back to the origins of how things are and coming from there, recreating your way of interacting with the world. From here you can ‘cross the great river’ into new and unknown territory. This means taking a risk: it would be altogether easier not to cross, to keep walking round the same familiar loop on this bank and keep out of the deep waters. But in a time of corruption, people sometimes seem impelled to cross, driven by feelings as strong as revulsion to bring about change. [H. Barrett, Hexagram 18: Corruption].”
Anne Frank words come to mind:
“.. the smell of canals and cigarette smoke, all the people sitting outside the cafés drinking beer, saying their r’s and g’s in a way I’d never learn. I missed the future. Obviously I knew even before this recurrance that I’d never grow old with Augustus Waters. But thinking about Lidewij and her boyfriend, I felt robbed. I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up you can’t make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn’t see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again. That is probably true even if you live to be ninety.” John Green, The Fault in Our Stars