Katarína Varsiková

Autor -Katarina Varsikova

Layers, Whites, Colours.

Layer upon layer, was the theme of the recent exhibition by George de Decker at the Husk Gallery. I have a ritual of popping into the gallery, received and accompanied by Ingrid, invited into the creation flow of the artist she currently presents: Here, many whites. White in white. White rice paper, paintings containing space, vertical and horizontal lines are spare, meditative. Anything of colour is even more so intense. Yes, silence is the birth of music, and white is the birth of colour. The search for essence – each of us to pursue for himself/herself. More and more I sense I create myself through letting creation find and flow through me. I have bought the CD by George de Decker connected to the white collection: Goldberg variations revisited. I listen, listen, and listen again. It is always new.  

The exhibition has evoked also a theatre play that I once saw in Brussels: Yasmina Reza: Art. It is a conversation between three friends heated by the fact that one of them has bought a painting: a white one. With white stripes. The dialogues are crispy and add all the colours of emotions to the white.

Much time we spend unconsciously protecting, creating shields against the wounds never visited, embraced. Vacant eyes darting, buzz and chatters, numbed, separated by illusions. There is art bringing us to the core. There is breath whispering all is fine. There is curiosity overcoming anxiety. Yes, we have been conditioned, all of us. We all feel all. Words are strong – uttered or written. Once we realize that the shields may get thinner, more transparent, or gone completely, the experience of life is direct and deep. No avoiding, no suppressing, no fighting. Lot of energy then transforms into creating. Being a channel of creative force is the perfect way of being.

From the books currently/recently read: Deborah Levy: Cost of Living. A short novel about the first post-divorce year – intense, empowering, without a single critical word towards the guy who once was there – the co-creator of home. This has given me enormous flux of gratitude. And the very amusing side-effect of divorcing the author points out: instead of slow degradation, the body fills with the energy of new beginnings – it becomes strong and vibrant. Hm, I am not advertising divorce, only yielding to life with its surprises and open possibilities.

The other one: Jhumpa Lahiri: Whereabouts. The author I have been following faithfully. She is a stunning story-teller, pure and precise. What both books have in common, and in common with Georges de Deckers perhaps, is the individual pursue, steady inquiry into the essence. Each of us unique.

Animus. Anima.

And here is a link to a video from the theatre play at Wolubilis ten years ago:

https://www.rtbf.be/info/regions/detail_art-de-yasmina-reza-a-wolubilis?id=6322363

Husk Gallery blog: https://www.huskgallery.com/blog/33/

Learning, Unlearning, Grounding

Many years of studies, many exams, pre-exam anxiety moments and… For what? The question pops up when, decades later, washing a water jar and changing the filter, I rate it the highlight of my working day in terms of joy and contentment. There are emails, phone calls, office discussions and more; still, performing a simple manual task feels the best.

I am not denying anything: all the years of studying are the underpinning structure. I also know I can write, translate, prepare a yoga class, do a yoga class, I can choose what to read, meditate and much more in freedom. Be the creative flow I have unconsciously searched all my life. Knowing it, changing a water filter feels so neat and satisfying.

Also, clearly, I am doing a lot of unlearning – sorting out, letting go what I have learnt but does not serve (any more). An example: a sentence I heard almost daily in my childhood: Do not go barefeet. Put on slippers. Put on shoes. Walking barefeet is my adult freedom and joy, and if you look up the word “groundig”, you will find a lot on importance of earth touch.

Here from the Chopra web: https://chopra.com/articles/grounding-the-human-body-the-healing-benefits-of-earthing

Belgium has a lake area in the northeast of the country. Some are classic – beach – boat – fishing – ones, the ones adapted to the needs and pleasures of humans. Some are truly wild, impossible to get close to through marshes and soft dark wet soil. Home to herons and other birds. Eerie, seemingly far from human world. Spare in colours, and the few tones are striking.

A girl who is in the morning meditation group joins us these days from her walking trip from the west end to the east end of Slovakia (though not a big country, Slovakia is rather long). She does not walk the mountains in the centre, which is quite a famous ridge trip, she takes the southern route, through towns and villages, along roads and rivers. The project is for the thesis and has a working title Search for Love.

One more question:

How has it occurred to people to think we are somehow more important or wiser than other species?

This premise is being correcting itself these days, I guess. In the process, through experience, through clear signs, through rediscovering humbleness, through grounding. Leading us no one knows where to. It is all right not to know.

Perá a joga

Z močiarov, z rozčítaných a nedávno prečítaných kníh: Emmanuel Carrère: Yoga Elif Shaffak: 40 pravidiel lásky (v slovenskom preklade vydal Slovart).

Električka 81 cestou z práce. Nastúpime s kolegom, a nájdeme si miesto na sedenie, lebo na tejto trati jazdia staré vozne a brzdí sa každú chvíľu. Ráno mi to nevadí, popoludní ma to znervózňuje. Vedieme unavený rozhovor, po mnohých stimuloch dňa by dobre padlo aj ticho, ale akosi sme naučení vrhať sa na slová a vrhať slovami. Poza Andrejovu hlavu ma zaujme tvár – je to žena, mladá, a niečo je na nej zvláštne. Úsmev, jamky v lícach. Až po pár zastávkach mi doklikne – je bez rúška. Nikto si to hádam ani nevšimol, je taká prirodzene zvláštna, trochu ako z iného sveta (asi ako všetci, ostatne).

Osvojila som si tento trik– v doprave nie, ale vonku chodím s holou tvárou, a vysielam signál, že toto je normálne. Víťazstvo či rebélia? Je to jedno.

Ráno si v električke prečítam pár strán – sú to sladké čerstvé chvíle, ako croissant a káva cez víkend.

Ku knihám:

Emmanuel Carrère sa  po desiatich rokoch dennodenného cvičenia jogy chystal literárne spracovať svoj život s jogou. Všetky tie úžasné účinky: plný dych, radostný pocit, doma vo svojom tele, atď. Lenže sa prepadol znenazdajky do stavu akútnej depresie, nie po prvý raz, dôverne to poznal. Úspešný francúzsky románopisec a táto kniha je delikatesa, a zďaleka nielen o joge. Emmanuel nehovorí veľa o svojom cvičení, viac o písaní, o meditácii, o ženách, snoch, o pobyte na psychiatrickej klinike, o ceste na grécky ostrov, do centra pre migrantov. Vycibrené pozorovanie a presné pomenovanie – kombinácia spisovateľského umenia a umenia jogy. Nepotrebujem vidieť jedinú asánu v jeho prevedení, a aj tak viem, že je jogín. Podľa toho, ako sa slovami dotýka miest a ľudí. Hassan a Atiq, mladí chlapci, ktorých príbuzní zaplatili tisíce dolárov, aby ich dostali do Západnej a Severnej Európy, sa stávajú súčasťou autorovho príbehu.

40 pravidiel lásky je kniha, na základe ktorej som si nanovo definovala, čo je láska: Ochota vytvoriť v sebe priestor pre všetko, čo vnímam, cítim, pociťujem, a tento priestor potom ponúknuť iným bytostiam. Láska rovná sa bezpečie byť sama sebou.

Citát zo 40 pravidiel lásky od tureckej autorky, dokonalej rozprávačky príbehov:

„Východ, Západ, Juh či Sever, nie je v tom žiaden rozdiel. Nech je cieľ akýkoľvek, podstatné je, aby to bola cesta dovnútra, pri nej cestujete zároveň po celom svete.“

Korán, Biblia, Patanjaliho sútry… všetky inšpirujúce knihy majú silu aj ohybnosť, s akou ich interpretujeme, dávame im významy. A 40 pravidiel lásky je pre mňa o vnútornej slobode. O slobode milovať, nech čokoľvek.

Emmanuel píše:

„Na začiatku cesty, hovorí istý zenový básnik, hora v diaľke vyzerá ako hora. Počas cesty sa neustále mení. Človek ju nespoznáva, horu nahradí predstava, nevieš ani, kam to vlastne mieriš. A na konci je to znova ona, hora, úplne iná ako tá, ktorú predtým, na začiatku pozoroval z diaľky. Je to naozaj hora. Konečne ju vidím. Prišiel som. Som tu.“

Emmanuel hovorí aj o kurze tai tchi a cvičení, ktoré sa nazýva krájanie mrakov. Na prvý pohľad pomalá gymnastika pre starých Číňanov v parku. Raz však príde na kurz jedna členka s očami prilepenými na vrchu hlavy; Chceli ju v metre okradnúť. Napadli ju, nerozmýšľajúc, poslúžila si „krájaním mrakov“. Zložila útočníkov, ani nevedela ako. Majster na to vraví: „Nedajte sa mýliť, toto je bojové umenie, toto je smrtiaca zbraň.”

Vybrala som sa skontrolovať bociany, ktoré hniezdia okolo ZOO v Plankendael. Slobodne lietajú, kým supy vo voliére depresívne sedia na bydlách, kusy mäsa rozhádzané okolo. 

Máme to všetci jasné, sloboda je tisíc ráz lepšia ako väzenie, len už nie celkom jasné, čo tá sloboda vlastne je a čo potom so zodpovednosťou, ku ktorej nás vyzve. A tie neviditeľné mreže, ktoré stavia myseľ, a ak ich aj zbadáme, myseľ rýchlo povie, že kľúč neexistuje, ani dvere. A pritom dvere sú dokorán, hovorí Rumi, a opakujem sa, viem to. Cestou za bocianmi som objavila močiar a v ňom sediacu postavu človeka – má ženské prsia, opradené chaluhami, výraz tváre pokojného bojovníka. Buď sa z močiaru vynára, alebo doň klesá, ako to chcem vidieť. Tie prsia nepozývajú prisať sa, neponúkajú útechu, lebo netreba. Tam, kde je nádej, je aj zúfalstvo. Cesta z duality je dostať sa za obe, vydať sa na neprebádané chodníky, za plot, tam, kam sa obyčajne nechodí, tam, kde niet sprievodcu. Alebo áno – sprievodca sa volá prijatie a ďalší sprievodcovia sú zväčša nevidení bežným okom. Močiar je symbol tvorivosti, a táto postava v ňom symbol znovuzrodenia.  

A Hope in Diest

We are just people, and this is just a town, a hope.

The main square in a Flemish town called Diest in the middle of this tiny country called Belgium. The square has all the classic features: old and pretty 17th and 18th century houses, a béguinage court with its medieval calm, a park, and a nature reserve. Diest also sports a citadel.

Weekend day trips saturate my thirst for travel and new places. A quiet Sunday, a few people stroll or talk in the streets. Pubs and restaurants are closed, but a place called Margherita in one of the townhouses is open. It suggests pizza to take-away, what else?

When I enter, the place looks sad – tables put aside, chairs over them, lights dimmed, decorations dusty. Two kids are playing in the spacious empty restaurant and a man of Moroccan origin comes to greet me and to take the order. He speaks perfect Dutch to his kids, scolds them off – a preventive parental measure. They are 4 and 5 and shy at the beginning in the presence of a stranger. The shyness is quickly dissipated by a few smiles, as it goes with most of the kids anywhere. I sit and wait and observe. Moroccan lanterns are hanging from a ceiling still speaking of ancient Flemish craft, classic pizza selection on the menu. The kids´ shyness is gone for good; the girl starts to give piggy rides to her younger brother checking vehemently if I look. I look and I am happy I can say a few sentences and be understood: How are you? Your sister is strong. The little boy agrees with this remark, he is in the age when the admiration for his older sister is spontaneous. Their father is making the pizzas I ordered, he has relaxed as he sees I am not bothered by the children. I spent a quiet moment after a long walk, sipping a coke, content and tired. Another trip to a newly discovered town that still holds some promises and is worth coming back to. The world we are witnessing nowadays is a fusion. A fusion perhaps cures us from the illusion of separation, of building identities on shutting away and refusing the different. These two kids speak Dutch among themselves, what will they identity be once they are adult? Their tiny childhood is witnessing masked people and deserted towns. But kids are good at being absorbed in their own inner world. Kids are also good as absorbing all the conditioning they are exposed to.

All right, let´s take it all, we are on a healing path, we are becoming healers. At least, there is a good chance of it. A good chance we are paving the world for lighter, more connected, less frightened humans to walk it. A chance, right? Because I see discarded face masks on the pavements, yellow nationalist flags are hanging from a townhouse. Bottled emotions simmer to the surface everywhere, the thin layer of general ego-gratification is breaking. Good. Good. Let´s trust the process. The guy brings the pizzas, they smell deliciously, a margherita and a parmigiana – the form is oblong, neither round, nor square. Fusion has made its way to classic carton boxes. I pay, say good-bye to the children and receive two tiramisu desserts as a gift.

Outside, a sudden cold rain presents itself, so I hurry up the hill towards the citadel and the car parked under it. From the top of the hill, the town is tiny, it can be held in an open hand; a poem of a local poet is displayed on a panel. The view offers a few church towers, marshes and lowlands spreading towards the horizon.

A few slices of pizza eaten in the car before I hit the road. Strangely happy alone and not.

ESPERANCE We zijn maar mensen, en dit is maar een stad, een hoop.

HOPE We are just people, and this is just a town, a hope.

(from a poem by Thomas Gayvaerts, Diest)

Info and photos on béguinage in Diest:

https://www.werelderfgoedfotos.nl/en/photos/261-flemish-beguinage-diest.html

Pôjdy

foto: Lulu v Toskánsku, v hore Cetona, pred rokmi, na prahu detstva.

Na BBC online sa objavil článok o meditácii a úzkosti. Jogu aj meditáciu niektorí odporúčajú ako všeliek, a niektorých sklame, a úplne tomu rozumiem. Meditácia neslúži na to, aby čokoľvek odstraňovala, vytvára však priestor. Ak sa v danom prítomnom okamihu do priestoru naleje úzkosť, tak je to legitímna emócia žiadajúca o vypočutie. Možno bola kdesi dlho zasunutá, možno ju tam zahrabali generácie dávno pred nami. Ako keď sa človek vydá na pôjd, kde dávno nebol – ráta s prachom, s prekvapeniami a nálezmi. A nie všetky nevyhnutne potešia.

Pôjd u starej mamy sme milovali, boli tam truhlice s haraburdami, porcelánová bábika so strašidelnými očami. A tá móda! Klobúky! Hops, telo mŕtvej myši v pasci. Ísť na pôjd a nerátať s prachom, mŕtvymi muchami, živými pavúkmi, atď., je naivné. Na povale našich starých rodičov bolo v lete často neznesiteľne horúco, inokedy zase chladno, prach sa víril v kúdoloch, aj tak sme tam znova a znova liezli. Prehrabávali, kutrali, skúšali. Nachádzalo sa tam aj fľakaté zrkadlo, ukazovalo nám zvláštny odraz vo svetle precedenom cez škáry v streche. Veľmi podobne nás meditácia vedie na miesta fascinujúce a strašidelné, neprebádané. Poznáme to: Kto sa bojí, nech nechodí do lesa.

Skúsenosť úzkosti je mi dôverne známa, asi ako každej ľudskej bytosti: má svoju ostrú, aktívnu formu, a svoju potlačenú, nenápadnú – vtedy nastupuje tik zjesť ešte jeden čokoládový koláč, vypiť ďalší pohár vína, šklbať si kožu okolo nechtov, zrolovať po xtý ráz IG, a… pridajte vlastné. To sa úzkosť hlási, klopká, že chce byť vypočutá. Takže keď sa usadím meditovať, nečudo, že ju zrazu počuť hlasnejšie.

Osobne si myslím, že obáv sa netreba okamžite zbavovať. Jednak, dá sa čokoľvek, čo buble, pozorovať (a teda vôbec netvrdím, že sa mi to darí, a že ma nestrhne vír, keď je emócia silná). Dá sa pýtať: Čo mi hovoríš, čo potrebuješ? Emócie sú učitelia, všetky. Dá sa aj zhltnúť nejakú rýchlu ružovú, ale to pomôže len na chvíľu. Ak sa vôbec pri potláčaní dá hovoriť o pomoci.

A v tomto období, keď sa všetko hýbe, hlási, vysiela signály a zároveň nás posiela domov – rýchle ružové či biele čokoľvek funguje nespoľahlivo.

Opatrne sledujem, a hej, myslím, že prišiel čas dovoliť vojsť do vedomia dlho potláčané. Chýbajú mi kaviarne a dokonale napenené cappuccino s barista oat meal. A mám radosť z pekných vecí na sebe a okolo seba. A nemyslím, že empatia spočíva v tom, že upadnem podľa vzoru kohosi do utrpenia. Empatia práve vyžaduje, že si svoje vnútorné naladenie udržím aspoň neutrálne, alebo priamo čisté, radostné. Až vtedy viem byť empatická. Vibrujúc zúfalstvo a smútok, neodkážem vnímať, čo cítia iní.

Vraciam sa znova a znova skúmať ten svoj mikro-makro-kozmos; vo veľkom obraze tu čosi je, čo si vyžaduje hojenie, liečenie: Nedá sa akceptovať a s láskou nosiť móda, za ktorú tí, čo ju vytvárajú, nedostanú slušne zaplatené. Za dopestovaným a dochovaným jedlom nemá byť toľko ľudského a zvieracieho utrpenia. Lebo je mojou súčasťou, a ja jeho.

Často používame metaforu detstva a detí ako čohosi čistého, úprimného. Pritom však potrebujeme vyrásť. Postarať sa o deti (svoje vnútorné deti tiež) a vyrásť. Lebo vezmime si takú škôlku: plná hier, farieb, zábavy, autentických emócií. Ktosi však večer po deťoch uprace, ktosi nakupuje a varí, a prezlečie periny. Celá logistika, aby sa deti cítili dobre a pohrali. Ja viem, že aj ony si upracú hračky pod vedením učiteľov, aspoň v dobrej škôlke. A my tu na Západe sme boli takí škôlkari, aj sme čosi porobili, ale v detskej naivite o chode celého zariadenia nič netušili. Nemuseli. Typická obchodná ulica v akomkoľvek meste dnes vyzerá, ako by ju zásobovali škôlkári: porcelanové hocičo, žaby na strunke, farebné vrecká všeličoho, čo sa vydáva za jedlo, a pritom nie je.

Sú sladké, tie časy ranného detstva, a všetkým je dovolené dospieť.

Tu je odkaz na článok na BBC webe. Duševné zdravie potrebuje úctu a pozornosť. Nepohodlné pocity sú dôležitým kľúčom, sú láskou v inej podobe. Vyhnúť sa im nedá.

Dajú sa odložiť na pôjd. Raz ich tam objavia zvedavé deti. Zvedavosť je skvelá detská vlastnosť, tú si môžeme v pohode zobrať so sebou do dospievania a dospelosti.

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210202-how-mindfulness-can-blunt-your-feelings-and-spike-anxiety

Skating with the Rules

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.