Enjoy the snow and do not step on the ice.
So much on the electronic banner at the entrance to the Hofstade recreation zone close to the town of Mechelen. Frost came unexpectedly and stayed for a week this February, resulting into ponds and canals freezing enough to bring a discussion in Belgium where one can skate that weekend. No doubt, it must be a certain layer of ice to allow securely skating. I remember stories of my childhood – the threat of drowning accompanied free-style fooling on winter lakes. My cousin (an adventurous soul) once broke through the ice and till he came home the jeans and the jacket froze on his body. It belongs to family anecdotes collection. A leg broken on a tree brunch was another threatening option.
I leave the skates in the car booth and go on exploring.
Surely, parts of the canal in shady places would be safe enough. For once, they are shallow anyway. But I do not go on, do not want to provoke, the guardians of peace (a soft word for a mild form of state force) are everywhere these days. I take a long stroll around lakes and canals, watching the birds being free, landing where they want, taking off when they want. The same thing of must-not holds here in summer – swimming outside designed area is forbidden. A free country?
I understand the meaning of rules and responsibilities, after all, anybody who gets himself/herself into a trouble can bring others in trouble. Nature is dangerous and rescue parties risk their own life and invest into saving fellow brothers and sisters.
Preventing/rule-binding energy is the mother energy, saving/rescuing is the father energy. Or vice-versa and both. Parental, in any case. The general rule for bringing up an independent individual is to prevent and set rituals and rules when the child is tiny, and slowly release the supervision and let the child to try out the borders, to enlarge and deepen the worlds.
So, in the eyes of the state – how old are we, the citizens – in this over-protective, risk-minimizing, fear-bound civilization?
2 or 3 years old?
One of my colleagues once quoted, I believe it is from Y. N. Harari´s super famous book: “Since humans settled, they started to be softies, they started to degenerate. They could afford other than strong individuals in their communities. “
We are proud of longevity, of increased security, of care. Simultaneously, it has twisted our relationship with dangers and fear. And hence we swirl on crowded beaches and skate in rounds on rings (when pandemic is not on), and when the pandemic is on, we do not swim and do not skate. Because it is forbidden.
My friend calls about joining me on a walk – and she also took the pair of old skating shoes with. We meet at the edge of a nature reserve north of Brussels – and find us a stretch of a frozen brook. Just a few meters, just a few minutes, but it feels hilariously free to skate against the rules. And then have a long walk, they are allowed by the state. The next day I find a hidden round forest pond, almost unbearably beautiful. I step on, the ice started to talk, and crack, melting is around the corner. Pale golden sunshine sparkling on pristine snow, such a rare sight in this part of the world these days.
Nobody to remind me of any rules. The rules are within, anyway. The good thing is children have an instinct to grow. There is nothing in the world of forms that does not contain the shadow side. Danger increases intensity of living; it is a tight dance. Love is beyond duality.
Let us grow. In the experience, with the experiences.