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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Trust 3b: ... into Faith and Love


Rudolf Steiner's 4-fold classification helped me shape the 'two level' idea of acting at either an animal level or a spiritual level. There are some types of behaviour that Steiner classifies as part of the 'animal kingdom' (the third class), while other types of behaviour are typical for the highest class: the kingdom of man (the fourth class).
The third class, the astral body is the seat of the soul, and the repository of human desires, emotions, and feelings.  
Primitive feelings like anger, fear and lust belong to this class
The fourth class, the Spiritual Self is the true spiritual essence of each human being.  
For instance art, man's creativity, is said to reside at this level.

The ideas of Neale Donald Walsh (Conversations with God) and Barry Neil Kaufman (Option and Sonrise) fit well in this scheme. If you look closely at what they say, you read the message:
you may feel that your reactions to any situation, are limited, implied by a mechanism, but they are not. You choose your own reactions.

Bears Kaufman points out how easily we tell ourselves that our feelings are determined by others. “You make me so angry!” Nonsense, anger is a choice, because you may believe that anger puts you in the winning position. No one can make you angry, you do it to yourself. Alas, it can be such a habit that it happens subconsciously. Making it hard to quit, but not impossible.
It becomes a habit when anger has paid off in the past. Then we easily tend to go for this reaction to get our way. But we can examine ourselves and decide that somehow anger to get what we want is not necessary. Or not the best way. Staying friendly and going your own way often is more effective than anger or even blackmail by using tears. Alas we just didn't learn that in our early years, when we were just starting to experiment with groupdynamics at kindergarten or at home.

Is it just a coincidence that I feel for both Steiner's and Kaufman's models? Steiner's theory is based on the ideas of Aristotle, who was Plato's student, who was Socrates' student. Bruce M. Di Marsico 's 'Option Dialog' which is refined by Kaufman and integrated in his Sonrise playtherapy, is based on the Socratic Dialog !

Neale Walsh argues that we either act out of fear (= animalistic level: survival) or love (= spiritual level: altruism). Ask yourself 'What would Love do now?' when pressured to make a difficult choice. I did and I chose to act out of love. Putting myself in big trouble with some law enforcers and other authoritive figures -who were used to people blindly following their instructions- but in the end it worked out wonderfully for my son and me.

Let's hang on to Love, it comes closer to our Faith and Trust Journey than you think.


Some of our most used psychological therapies function at the animalistic level. I hate that. Any therapy that involves either punishments or rewards, makes the hairs in my neck stand up!! Like behaviorism and some popular forms of cognitive therapy.
It means the therapist is not just conditioning the clients behaviour, he is teaching the client that motivation lies outside of him or her. This creates a dependency of the client on his environment, or worse the therapist. That's not healing, that's disempowerment!
Apart from that, rewards and punishments reinforce our feelings at animal level: lust for rewards and fear for punishments. This is not the level at which you want to live.

I prefer the humanistic psychology of Carl Rogers:
Rogers rejected the deterministic nature of both psychoanalysis and behaviourism and maintained that we behave as we do because of the way we perceive our situation. [Grand opening for SPD and autism treatment!]
"As no one else can know how we perceive, we are the best experts on ourselves."
Carl Rogers believed that humans have one basic motive, that is the tendency to self-actualize - i.e. to fulfill one's potential and achieve the highest level of 'human-beingness' we can@.
From his theories, Virginia Axline developed a form of playtherapy based on unconditional acceptance of the child in therapy. Because the therapist has FAITH in the healing powers of the client, even if it is a child.
The child chooses the way a therapy session is filled in. Since the child alone knows what it needs. And it will generally choose a game that will help him develop himself. 'All' the therapist does is be present and be empathic with the child. Unconditionally.
The unconditional love helps the child to strengthen his self esteem and he becomes able to overcome his problems by himself. And this way the client, the child, becomes independent of its environment! What a beautiful effect of unconditional love. And faith#.

Bears Kaufman's Sonrise works with the same principles. Only the frequency, duration and intensity of the sessions is higher, He developed this playtherapy for his son. To help the boy find his way out of his autistic 'enclosure'. And it works.


There is something about love, being either conditional or unconditional, that is parallel to trust and faith, to animal versus spiritual … I quote an article on Carl Rogers, by Leighna Shmidt

"Carl Rogers was an American Psychologist who largely contributed during his life, theories and practices on how unconditional love can change us. Unconditional love can heal us from the inside out. Rogers most important work was with the "love" referred to by Greek philosophy as agape. Greek Philosophy distinguished between two kinds of love. Ero and agape. Ero is characterized by the desire for something that will fulfill the lover. It includes the wish to possess the beloved object or person. Agape , on the other hand, is characterized by the desire to fulfill the beloved"

Ero obviously corresponds to my animal level, whereas Agape fits in at the spiritual level. 

THe relation between Rogers' theory and my exploration in Trust, has more connections than Ero and Agape. Watch: there are 3 elements to Carl Rogers therapy of love:
  • genuineness,
  • empathy
  • unconditional positive regard
Please let me continue quoting the article. It's about genuineness. The bold script is put in by me:
It is important to be truthful, honest, to be aware of thought processes that occur while in the presence of another. The more fully self is understood, the more genuine (honest) someone can be with self and those who are loved. A genuine person shares his/her thoughts and feelings without pretense. In the presence of a genuine person there is trust. With trust comes the willingness to "expose ourselves" . A genuine person serves to invite one to let their self be known for who they really are.

It is not just about trust. It is about people who know themselves. It isn't hard to understand that a genuine person (Rogers') is a person with high self esteem. Clearly self esteem, trust and love go hand in hand.

Trust and love both can be practised at two levels. At a level where two people have to reward and reassure each other regularly. Where control and possession play a role.
Or you may rise to a level where faith and love are given unconditionally.

If you manage to lift your life to a higher, spiritual level, your trust will become pure. It will turn into faith. You will be free from the need to be reassured, free of the need for proof and satisfaction.
Your love will be unconditional, with all its healing powers.
And you can act freely, undisturbed by the judgements of those who still are at the other level.   Of course we, mere mortals, can hardly live at this level continuously. But that's no reason not to try, right?

Where does self esteem stand in the two level theory? That's a nice one to think about on sleepless nights or in crowded trains.  I think the conclusion will be that at a higher level there is no room for a negative self image. Could low self esteem keep you from moving from the animal level to the spiritual one? I don't think so. I think stepping up the ladder may help you get rid of low self esteem.

Anyone disagreeing? Please speak up!

# Was it faith? Yes the therapist firmly believed in the childs capability; even if it was a child in need of therapy. A child that not yet had proven what he is capable of...

Trust3a: A Leap of Trust ...

For starters let's make it clear that in exploring trust I talk of a Giver and a Receiver. In a normal  relationship, these roles are alternating. Sometimes you give trust, sometimes you receive it.

When the Receiver is present, or at least communicating or 'delivering' [sounds horrible, but OK] ,trust can be reinforced easily. Especially when both parties prove to be trustworthy whenever they play the role of receiver. Their mutual trust will grow stronger and stronger, like becoming a diamond.

What happens in a relationship where there is little or no physical presence or communication? To name some very different situations:
- Trusting in a person who works far away from home and who cannot communicatie often?
- Trusting ... in your own life's fulfillment, your own worthiness, your ... name it. Your future being the thing that you believe in.
- Trusting in a God

That's where Trust has to be like Blind Faith. I'm not the only one who sees faith like that: from Collins reverso online dictionary: 
FAITH: strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp. without proof or evidence.
Faith is a leap in the dark. Or, if your belief IS unshakeable , a leap into a cloudy world? A walk on water.

What lacks is the feedback, the reinforcement. You don't rely on the others for current feedback, you rely on your previous experience with the other, counting on her constancy. Or on your own worthiness, being worth the loyalty of the other. -Yes: high self esteem is handy, even in faith.-

Now where have I heard about feedback mechanisms and reinforcement before?  I remember! During my study. I have studied medical biology and population biology (application of evolutionary models on plant or animal populations). Both disciplines work with models in which feedback is crucial for finetuning. Starting something is easy, but how do you make the action, the release of energy,  fit to its original prompt? By taking in the new signals from the one who gave uttered your cue... after you started your action.  With a positvie reaction, a stimulus, you continu what you were doing.  After a negative, inhibiting, message you'll decrease your activity, or cease it all together.

But how does one keep on having faith? There is no feedback to determine the wisdom of what you're undertaking... (or is taking under?). Without finetuning feedback it might stop or run out of hand?
Yet it exists and doesn't always cease or go out of control.


Trust can be fitted nicely in a biological model, whereas faith does not. This reminds me of a parallel that I ran into, when I was a student. The statement, the assumption: “Altruism does not exist.”
Or at least, altruism defined as “unselfish concern for the welfare of others” does not exist.

In evolutionary models the individual with the most fit genes [best adapted to its environment] gets the highest number of healthy, reproducing, desendants. Over the course of time, this genetic variant becomes the dominant fenotype [the outer form by which we recognise a species] within a population. This process is called selection.
Behaviour, which also has a genetic base, is under the same selective pressure. The female grasshopper that eats her mate after copulation, builds up reserves to produce strong healthy eggs. This increases the chances of survival of the offspring. Any male that 'sacrifices' himself, will have more offspring than the quick men* that escape from being the 'bridal cake'. Serving as a meal is not altruism, it is fitness!

Pure altruism does not fit into this model, hence biologists deny its existence. Altruism in biology is often reserved for kin selection: behaviour that at first glance may seem altruistic, since there is no clear relation to the survival of one's own direct descendants.
Helpful behaviour, from a natural selection viewpoint, should lead to survival of the own gene-variant.  (Genes are 'selfish'). Helping your children (50% of your own genes) is not altruistic behaviour, its selfishness of the genes. But your nieces and nephews still have a 25% share of your genes.  So do your grandchildren... helping them is not altruism either. That's what Haldane meant when he said  "I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins". It is the kin selection theory.
I'm not behaving altruistic if I give food and clothes to my nephews or maybe one day to my grandchildren.

It is altruisim, when I walk out of the front door doubled up, so I won't harm the spider's web that occupies half the doorway. Altruism does exist, but it has no place in biological models.


As it happens we, living creatures, are not just machines, functioning as described by some flow chart. We are bodies immersed with a soul. Or, as I feel at times, a soul stuck in a rather crummy body. (Not the one I would have picked myself).

Our bodies are subject to natural laws, including those of natural selection, and our behaviour is influenced by that. If you feel threatened you either flee or fight, to make your genes survive and give them a chance to propagate. That is behaviour at the animal level: a primitive, selfish way of coping with difficult situations. No one will blame you for that.
But if you feel threatened and look at your adversary with a forgiving look, trying to find out what makes him behave like that, wanting to help him, your behaviour rises above the animal level: you become altruistic. Not fleeing or fighting, but helping. At your own risk, pure altruism.
At such a moment your behaviour has reached a higher, spiritual, level.
This level is not acknowledged in academic, biological circles. That doesn't mean it's not there. Have faith in me!

-to be continued ….

*Finally, I have proven that physical fitness does not guarantee fitness for life! Away with all fitness machines and workouts ...

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I can never keep it straight. 
Does my camera have Autofocus or Outoffocus ?

Focus means dedication. Channeling your love -attention, energy-  to one or a
few important parts of your life.
The surrounding world is still there, as a vital part of your composition.  But your
location, lenses, diaphragm and shutter speed are all in concert for the subject of your focus.

How frustrating. The deeper the darkness, the longer the mirror will block your
view.Taking the orchestration out of your hands.
Take heart, for after sufficient exposure time, the light will flow back to you again. From focal point to finder.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Odd Friends and Other Non-Sequiturs

   It's definitely not spring time, it's freezing. And yet I'm thinking of follies, feel like playing pranks.
But then again, I never needed spring for that. Autumn is my favoured season.
   I'm not going to disclose all my premises that lead to this post. The fact that they were the 'driving' force behind it, is credit enough. You don't understand me? That can't be helped, there's a pleasure sure in being mad, which none but madmen know... [John Dryden,The Spanish Friar; 1681]


I have tried and concluded that a datingsite is not the place where I make friends. It's like going to the beach. I do like the sea, but there's just too many people around. Too much exultation.

Friendship is energy, flowing between two persons. I make friends at small but headstrong brooks. I'm attrackted to their rippling laughter, their clashing and whirling. Am even prepared to break the ice that might still reside over them at the end of another winter.

Yet some of my friendships grew slowly, like a leak in a dyke, water seeping through sluice-gates.
Like it happened between Winston and me. I didn't even want to be his friend.
I was afraid of him. He could stare at me without conveying his annoyance. With me. So I did what I once heard was a great help against fear: just greet the person you're afraid of, calling him by his name. So every time I passed by, I said “Hello Winston” and greeted his friend as well. Hiding my fear.
Since Winston lived near the town center, where I do my shopping, I had to pass his house quite often.
And every time when he was is in his yard I repeated “Hello Winston.” That went on for a long time. Winston never said a word.
After two years, Winston's friend walked over to the gate. The friend had a much friendlier air about him, so I halted. The moment I stretched out my hand to him … his dinky little tail almost flew off from wagging it so enthousiasticly. How he loved being petted. In spite of all the mock chases he and his big black friend had been performing. Now Winston was really angry. With his most Rotweiler like stance, he stood over the old English Bulldog and sunk his teeth in him. I withdrew, casting worried glances over my shoulder to the smallest one, whom I had been calling 'Churchill' for two years now.
The next day a fit and healthy Churchill came running to the gate again, followed closely by Winston.
No sooner then that Churchill poked his snout through the gate, Winston stood over him, glaring at me.
If I wanted to pet the smaller dog, -which I did- I had to pet his leader first. My stomach tightened. In just a few seconds it would be determined. Whether I would go through life as the handless maiden or not. I raised my hand over the black head, Winston turned up his nose to sniff my palm, bringing his mouth closer into the bargain. Then it happened. He was wagging his tail too.
The problem with Winston is that he's possessive and jealous. I can still pet him, but I only do it when alone. With his front paws on the gate, he growls and bites at anyone who is with me or even close to me. He's not my 'easiest' friend.
So what, friendship comes in all shapes and sizes.

Forgive me , Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone, for adapting your prayer a little, but I think it's a befitting way to finish this seemingly non-sequiturial post.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I rather seek
to console as to be consoled;
to understand, as to be understood;
to cherish, as to be cherished.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is through our fellow creatures
that we can honour and receive Your Love

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Writer's Block

My son's cat, a big white cat (8 kg ) named Mario, is a special case. 
He's like a Great Dane among the cats, and yet he has his fears... 
He's afraid of most men.  It's because of this habit that the vet gave the cat to my family 3 years ago. My son was 10, so my household was considered 'manless'.  Only an occasional visit from my brother disturbed the tranquility. It took Mario over a year to get used to my brother.

Apart from this fear of human men, Mario has an eating disorder and a drinking problem!
The cat's afraid of drinking water from a bowl, He can't see the level of the water and of course it varies at times. I've seen him stick his head in too deep. Causing him to inhale water through his nose and causing panic..  
However, Mario came up with a solution, single-handedly: he pushes his bowl across the floor with one paw. At one fell swoop. It makes the water dance  -and  me run for a towel.   When the movement of the water is somewhat subdued and regular, he looks for the surface by the changing reflection of the light. He peers and peers into his bowl and suddenly starts to drink. Without dipping his nose in!

My son witnessed the birth of the eating 'disorder'. When Mario was with us only a couple of days he almost choked on one of his cat cookies. He was rescued by my son. 
I didn't know that. But I noticed some odd behaviour.... whenever I came out of the bathroom, Mario would be sitting close to the door. On seeing me, he'd rise and walk to 'his' room, mewing. Looking over his shoulder to check if I was following him. At his bowl with cookies he would stop, mew and check again if I were there and only then he would start to eat. The amount of cookies in the bowl hinted that he hadn't eaten them all day.  As if he had been waiting for someone to be present when he ate. 
When my son and I 'compared notes' we could only conlcude that Mario is afraid of choking on his cookies and therefore wants one of us to be present when he eats them.

Don't tell me that animals can't think. This cat came up with solutions for his own fears. He even knew how to recruit others to help him. A completely different species. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Trust 2: Prerequisites

In the line “he trusts her” the he is the giver of trust and she is at the receiving end. If she is really rotten and selfish, he is crazy to trust her. But what if she's honest, loyal, caring? And he still doesn't trust her completely? She gets out of her way to prove her trustworthiness, but at the slightest silence, he panics or gets angry: “She doesn't like me anymore. We're no longer friends.” She could become a slave, disloyal to herself, trying to comply and pacify him the moments when his Trust gives out. Or she might give up the friendship. Pity, it could have been so nice.
What's wrong here? Why is he not trusting someone with lots of loyalty? The problem clearly lies within the Giver, in the him of our example.
  1. Is it the way he looks at others?
  2. Is it what he imagines others will think of him?

The first perspective is about experience. When bad experiences outweigh positive ones, it becomes harder to trust a normal loyal person. That is what bitterness can do. These experiences can come from one's own relationships, or from witnessing the relationships of others. Parents, siblings, colleagues.

The second perspective has to do with self image or self esteem. One can have too little of it (Low Self Esteem, LSE), a healthy amount (High Self Esteem, HSE) or too much (which I call Excessive Self Esteem, ESE). The latter enters the field of narcism, which I don't want to discuss here.

Now what did I say about Trusting? It's a freely chosen dependency, counting on the other party's loyalty. In every type of relationship.
Oooh, dependency . Is it about a healthy dependency or a sick one? Can one pull out when necessary, or does ones whole life depend on it? We'll see.

I'll limit my post to comparing people with low self esteem and high self esteem, in the way they trust a normal, trustworthy, partner. 

Someone with low self esteem thinks that nobody likes him. People may say they do. But they are either lying or will change their minds soon.Which is either stupid or arrogant, by the way: one cannot know what the other thinks
In a relationship, the person with LSE will have his Trust torn up by doubts very often. He needs a lot of reassurance.
On the other hand, the same person may think he needs to buy himself into the relationship. Because he believes that he himself is worthless and only his material assets - money, gifts-  are appreciated. 
Poor LSE-er: the gifts may become more than a partner will feel comfortable with. 
Since LSE has its effect on every type of relationship, the person with LSE probably is faltering through life. The new relationship, be that friendship or a love relationship, becomes the One thing, getting all of the focus. Not only because he has nothing better going on. Also because being in a relationship increases his value. The relationship determines the value of his entire life. A sick dependency is coming up. So much , that the person with LSE might accept disloyalty from the partner, even pick himself bad partners. The danger of negative experiences lurks around.

Someone with high self esteem probably has a busy life, with many friends and interests. A love relationship or a new friendship is a beautiful addition to that life, but it is not everything. So a person with HSE will not easily end up in a sick dependency. Neither will a person with HSE accept disloyalty.
Someone with high self esteem knows that he is likeable, loveable. He is free to reject relationships, because others are waiting around the corner.

Since a person with a positive self image realises that he is important to others, prolonged silence of a (business) partner does not shatter his trust. Neither does a person with HSE have the compulsion to buy himself into a relationship, so no embarrassing showers of attention and gifts.
If the partner is ditto, there's a healthy ground for the relationship to evolve. It'll become strong and transparent, like a diamond.

When it comes to gathering experience: people with low self esteem have a higher risk of negative experiences. On the other hand, they can also remain isolated for a long time, prolonging their naivety.
When you have HSE, your chances of good experiences are better.

Now there we have the switch of the permanently burning lamp: the more you appreciate yourself, the more you know that others like you too. That makes it easier to trust someone: there's little or no doubt at the moments that there is no 'prove' from the partner. You don't fall into thinking 'She doesn't like me anymore'.
Simply because you believe in yourself. And because this 'system' often renders positive experiences, it reinforces itself. 

 Do you have a negative self image?  Take another look at yourself!
Mind you: LSE can be cured, so no worries
You may even cure yourself, by living your life, trying new things, taking risks of banging your nose once in a while … and cherish every tiny positive result.
If you think you're not worth that try, do it for others. Because you obviously can't trust -and love- someone else well enough, if you have a negative self image. Love thy neighbour as you love yourself, right?

Trust 1: Definition

Five letters, such a tiny word. So essential to life. 
Do you really know what Trust is? What it is and what it takes?
Having nothing better to do travelling from my hometown to my training, I decided to trust the crowd of the morning rush hour -that they would not step on me, not read my notes over my shoulder nor pick my pockets- and see if I could figure out why trust comes easy to some and so hard to others. 
Thinking while writing, not knowing where I will end up is what I like most.  Actually: at one point I ended up at a wrong  station, having forgotten to change trains at an earlier  station 
Forgive me if I make wrong linguistic conclusions... I'm not a native english speaker. Sesame Street and MASH were my teachers.

What is Trust?
Trust in God, trust your friends, trust yourself. Trustworthy, untrustworthy.

If you don't have enough Trust in your body, could you go to the general store and buy some? How would that affect your life?
"Goodday sir."
- "Morning ma'am."
- "I'd like to buy some trust."
- "Here you are lady."
I pay the price mentioned. not that I trust the owner in mentioning a fair price. I just don't bargain because I believe that I'm not going to win anyway.

Are believing and trusting the same? I think they're close, they're brothers. But no twins (sorry if I insult twins with that). 'I believe you' or 'I believe in you' is different from 'I trust you'. But how? Please say it again, feel it for yourself.

There seems to be a dependency or cooperation in Trusting someone, that is not necessarily present in Believing. Or Believing is more momentary, more superficial.
Years ago, a colleague said if I needed to talk, I could call him any time, even in the middle of the night. I believed he meant it. At the moment he said it.  But I never made use of the offer. Because he might have forgotten his promise or might feel bad himself, which would render him unable to stick to his promise.
I didn't Believe In him. His strength, his perseverance, his constancy.
No...we're not covering Trust with this example. Yet... I think now that Believing In comes closer to Trust than plain Believing.

Maybe the difference is in the cooperation? Another experiment, to test it.
   1. Newly wed wife says to her husband, who is on his way to a job interview: "..."
   2. Newly wed wife says to her husband, who is about to hunt for a house for the two of them: "..."
    What to enter on the dots?
       A. Go ahead, I trust you.
       B. Go ahead, I believe in you
      I believe Trust is applicable to situation 2. There is a dependency. The wife -voluntarily- depends on her husband for the choice of their new home. Does she place her trust in his capability or in his respect, his love for her? His loyalty?  What if he buys a house she doesn't like, or which turns out to be a cat in the bag?

      I think that is mainly a choice. Or a matter of character, personal beliefs.  [I could use the word convictions here, but then the question arises: are we convicted to our convictions or do we choose them?]
      The more loving the woman is, the least interested she's in the outcome. There's room for forgiveness. So what, if her partner made a mistake?  As long as his intentions were aimed at the welfare of both of them.
      Suppose on the other hand, he bought a house solely based on his own taste. In complete disregard of his wife's interests and taste? Now that would be disloyal. His wife's trust has been betrayed.

      So maybe it is this simple:

      I believe you  =  I know you're honest (right now)
      I believe in you  =  I know you're capable
      I trust you  =  I know you're loyal

      Three virtues, I must say. Of which loyalty is the most important. I believe.

      Ready while you are waiting

      Inspired by Parker and Larry. 

      “Darling, where are you going?” In spite of the opening word, the intonation was snappy. Doreen had laid out her plans during breakfast. This was to be a day full of efficiency. Mike's own plans were squeezed in meticulously, so he could get what he needed and accompany his wife and sister-in-law on their sight seeing and shopping tour. Doreen, by herself, was a guarantee for a busy day. But when her sister from Italy stayed over for her annual visit, the pace would become deadly.
      This morning the sisters had come up with a plan that he just couldn't refuse. As if he needed that new laptop today of all days. Hah!
      Behind his wife's back he had slipped his favorite, fat, novel into his rucksack. Now he was standing at the backdoor, the keys of his bicycle dangling between his fingers. “Uhm, I saw that my driver's licence needs to be renewed soon. So I was going to have my photo taken. You wouldn't want me to be without a driver's licence, would you?” Check!
      Doreen looked doubtful, doing some mental arithmetic. Then she gave in. “Good. My sister is getting dressed and doing her nails for our outing. So if you hurry, you can be back before she's finished.” Had he heard right? Was she tipping over her king?
      The woman sighed dramatically. “I was hoping that you'd go to the groceries, the drugstore and pick up a parcel from the post office.” Now she tilted her head and looked helpless.
      “Sorry Doreen.” Too late, she was not turning her resignation into a drawn game. “I don't have time. I'm going on my bike.” He opened the back door and walked out as quick as he could.
      – “Your bike? Michael, are you crazy? The car will be ...”
      – No honey, not now.” With that he unlocked his bicycle and went off.
      The october air was quite chilly, but a hat and an upturned collar could do wonders.

      He was going to have his picture taken. At this hour he would probably be the only customer so it wouldn't take too long. On his way back … he would treat himself to a nice cup of strong coffee in the early bird's café 'The Sleepy Rooster'. There he would read his favorite scene. He had read the book in his backpack three times already. Each and every turn, his lovely wife had managed to botch up the reading of the epic scene. Mike was determined to read it undisturbed today.
      On his way to the photo shop, Mike kept on mulling over his wife habits. Whenever he came up with a plan, she took action, accomplishing the task in less than no time. Everyone around him admired it and informed him how lucky he was to have such a wife. Because he... he was so indecisive, so phlegmatic She must be a great support ot him.
      What about letting plans ripen? What about looking at designs from different angles, in different moods? And why not wait a while to see if something new wells up? How often had he perceived a great idea while waiting. For instance that time in the supermarket. He allowed two customers to take place in the line right in front of him, so he had more time to think out a design. If they'd been carrying only one item, Doreen might have accepted it. She was sharp about correct social behavior. But one customer had been hoarding up as if he was going to camp out in the desert, the other obviously was preparing for a tremendous barbecue with beer to flow. Sotto voce Doreen had given him a piece of her mind. So cutting that his pensive mood was over and he actually regretted his gesture.
      Mike turned down his collar with one hand. The biking made his blood flow well. He felt like a soldier. On a mission to practise and defend the Art of Waiting.
      Three more blocks and he'd be at the photoshop. On the next block was The Sleepy Rooster. As Mike got near to it he casted an anticipating glance at it's façade. “What?!” He squeezed his handbreaks. There was a 'closed' sign on the door. And a note below. “Due to a lack of customers the rooster will be asleep for ever.” This was a blow. Such a charming place, his hide out, gone. Where could he go now to read, undisturbed by wives and in-laws ? He resumed his journey entertaining unlawful thoughts. When our man reached the photographer's store, he was full of rage inside, ready to start an argument with whoever would thwart him first.
      “Goodmorning. What can I do for you, sir?” The owner, a hard working man from India, beamed at him. While Mike formulated his request his eye fell on a banner on the wall behind the counter. 'Ready while you are waiting.' Well well, so this was the place to be. That should have been simple irony, but it became a challenge.
      After the picture was taken, Mike stayed seated where he was. The photographer threw him a doubtful glance, raising his eyebrows. Then he shrugged and walked away. He had to develope the photo, print it and dry it with a hairdryer in the shortest period possible. No time to waste, if he was to stay in this line of business. Mike took his book out of his backpack and opened it. What a nice quiet little shop this was. The right place for his quest. With a sigh of content he started to read. The photographer had not yet closed the door to his work area. He heard the sigh saw the thick novel. It made him call out to reassure his customer, “Dear sir, it really won't take long. I'll have your photo's ready in no time.”
      “Don't worry, man. I'm in no hurry.” was the reply. Now Mike had to read his line again.
      The alarm of the door chimed, announcing a second customer. “I'll be right with you,” the owner called, poking his head through the door opening.
      “Why don't you help this man first?” Mike suggested.
      Why not, the owner went over to the counter and asked his opening question. Delighted Mike started on his favorite scene. The other customer had only one question. After getting the information he was after he left the store. The owner picked up Mike's photo's again and dryed them with the blower. “Your photos are ready sir.”
      “Just put them on the counter. This won't take long.”
      Annoyed, but also a little troubled, the photographer walked over to Mike. “Please sir. Don't tell me you plan to finish your book here?”
      “Oh no”, Michael smiled, “just my favourite scene. Then I'll be off.” If Mike expected some understanding, he was in for an unpleasant surprise.
      “No sir.” The shop owner pulled the book from his customer hand and shut it with a snap. Then he handed it back to our dismayed looking friend. “This is not a waiting room.”
      “Aha!” Mike shot up from his seat, pulled the owner to his counter. “Then what, pray tell, does thát say?” He pointed at the banner.
      The owner read it out loud.
      “Precisely. While you are waiting.
      Now the owner felt cornered. “We used to send our customers out to shop. They picked up their photos later. Now it's developed so fast, they can wait in my store.” Mike argued that that was exactly what he had been doing. What was wrong about reading a book while waiting? Secretly the dark man vowed he'd remove the banner as soon as this strange client had left. “Your behavior is simply odd, sir. Nobody likes waiting. And you … you … you are waiting even while your photos are ready.
      “I'm glad you agree with me.” Mike took advantage of the verbal confusion and opened his book again. Just then the doorbel chimed once more. In sailed a pram with a wailing baby, pushed by a seemingly stone deaf mother. Four other children age three and up, trailed in after her.
      Mike's eyes grew large. In a second the shop had turned from a silent oasis to a colony of bickering gulls. He put his novel in his backpack in an instance and drew out his wallet in exchange. “How much?”
      The owner didn't waste a moment and named the price. For the first time in his life he was glad to see mrs. Moreno and her band of fallen angels enter his shop.

      Outside Mike searched his pockets for the keys of his bicycle. If he hurried home, he thought, he might read a bit in the shed. Or he could lock himself in the bathroom. Nah, who was he kid... his eyes fell on his tyres. Some mindless joker had stolen the valves and the tyres were flat. Mike finally resigned himself to not reading his beloved scene today. He started out for the nearest busstop, wondering if this day could get any worse. “If there is a God” he thought, “then he is obviously on holiday today. Maybe hiding from His in-laws.” He looked up at the electronic sign. His bus was delayed 20 minutes at least. Mike turned up his collar against the cold. And with a thankful smile he reached for his book.

      JoAnne Lakefield
      Oct. 2011

      Sunday, November 6, 2011


      Read by  Parker Stevenson
      link to his work as photographer
      Voice: Parker Stevenson
      link to bio 

      He was everything she had dreamed of. His physical appearance, his character, his quick mind, his style, his everything.  She was sure she didn't deserve him.
      Whenever he suggested something she might do differently, it felt like ... no, he did that because he wanted what was best for her. And she'd better pay heed to it, because he was right and she was far from perfect.
      Whenever he suggested something she might do differently, it felt like criticism. Like the beginning of the end of their relationship. And she complied to what he said, because she didn't want to lose him. She was addicted to him.

      Yes, she was far from perfect. She was good, great, smart, sweet, with a good sense of humor and very caring. But this d..... insecurity of hers. It spoiled things. When they'd just met, she was independent and rebellious.  But now? Whatever he said, she agreed with him. There was no more tension between them, she stopped being his sounding board. As if he was back on his own again.
      Now, take that time when she was visiting him in his apartment for the first time.  He showed her around and they reached his favorite room, his gym. Full of devices that helped him, not only to stay in shape, but to keep his mind clear. He went to his gym mostly because workouts helped him sort out his emotions and think more clearly. 
      She was not involved in any sports, he knew that. So he impulsively suggested that she might use his gym, a little bit of exercise would be good for her. She stepped back, looking as if she had just opened a two months old lunchbox, with the tuna sandwich still in it.  By and by he found out that she didn't like workouts at all, it just didn't give her a good feeling. She had other methods to stay tuned.

      Yet, after she had moved in with him -was it a wise decision?-  he found her in his gym. She did use it regularly, he knew that. She left traces:  towels, the exercise bike suddenly had changed settings, sore muscles ...
      And now he caught her in the act. Exercising while griping, an interesting combination. "Why ?" he asked her. "Why do you do this?"
      She got up from the rower and looked at him apologetically.  "I don't know. Really I don't. Maybe because you were right, I could use some exercise. And maybe, because, I don't know. It sounds so stupid. " She looked away from him. Started a brainstorm on the subject. "It's like I have to do everything you say or else... else I might risk our relationship? And I'm so nuts about you, I can't have you leave me. Or maybe it's just that compared to you I feel so unworthy and drab. I can't be myself anymore, ever since we started dating."
      Someone telling you she's in love with you and it doesn't even feel good. He came over to her, trying to catch her eye. "Honey,..."
      "No, don't honey me, please. I mean it. I'm afraid that when you suggest me to jump out of the window at the tenth floor, I'll do that too."  And with that, she ran out of the gym. His gym.

      It's three days later now and he's coming home straight from his office. "Get ready" he tells her, "we're going to eat out tonight."
      A look of wonder is her answer.
      "Nothing fancy. Somewhere small and cosy. Just the two of us."
      She returns the ingredients she was cutting for dinner, to the refrigerator. "What should I wear?"
      What a question! "Nothing. I mean nothing special."
      - "Just a clean shirt, OK?"
      - "Yes but hurry. I have to go back to the office first. I have to attend a short meeting."
      She casts him a questioning frown as she walks past him, leaving the kitchen. "Couldn't you pick me up after the meeting?"
      - "Nope. I made reservations and there's not much time between." He steals a kiss and then lets her go to change.
      - "Where are we going to?"
      - "An Italian restaurant. That's your favorite, right?" Silence "So you can admire my Italian pronunciation." he continues, while thinking how he'd wish she'd poke fun of it instead.
      - "I didn't know my man could speak Italian."
      - "That's just one of my secrets. But please hurry, people are waiting."

      A good thing she's not the kind of woman who loiters in front of a six-door wardrobe, sighing that she has nothing to wear. In no time they reach the firm's building. It's quiet now, they have the elevator all to themselves. While he pushes the button, she notices that they are not going to the storey where his office is. She says nothing however. Obviously the meeting won't be in his office.
      The elevator doors slide open and they get out onto a deserted floor.
      "Follow me" he says and they walk to a room at the end of the corridor.  The door is shut, but he has the key. "This is my new office. I moved to this floor today," he explains. Inside he turns on the light. She's starting to feel a little cheated. There's no one here, except them.
      "You know what floor we are on, right?"
      She looks at him. "Tenth?"
      - "Correct." He walks over to a window, opens it with another key. He gestures for her to step out of it. "Well?" he adds to it.  Is he crazy, this is the tenth floor? Her look is more than just puzzled.
      "Don't you remember when I caught you in the gym? You said you might jump out of the window on the tenth floor if I asked you to."  Yes, she remembers, the flash in her eyes betrays it. "So what is your answer now? "
      - "Dopo di lei.  After you." She says it with a beautiful indignation.
      - "Crazy goose, you answered well. Of course you don't just do anything I ask you to." He walks up to her and grabs her by the shoulders and shakes her a bit.  "And don't you dare, I need someone who is critical, to keep me alert." He feels in his pocket for the ring. It's there. "Let's go to the restaurant now."
      - "What about your meeting? Was it a hoax?"
      - "There was a meeting and you were there. You met your old self. Don't let go of her again."

      © november 2011
      JoAnne Lakefield