The Dutchman and the Sea - Peter Huijzer
too the wave rises. It swells; it arches its
am aware once more of a new desire,
rising beneath me like the proud horse
rider first spurs and then pulls him back.
No need to go outside.
The single-glass windows did not hinder the crisp light from a large
falling in. The cold breeze, finding its way through the many chinks of
house, mingled with the dry, hot air from the radiator below. The sea
I had arrived, after a
night on a boat and a day of gradual advancements through the
landscape, Thomas Hobbes as my sole companion. I had arrived at
solemn but friendly white house which since 1984 has been host to the
Okido Yoga retreats.
During the previous
year, I had done a few of such retreats in the Netherlands, but I had
come to this place before. That meant that I knew what to expect, and
it was all new to me. Except for the staff, I didn’t know any of
participants, but the group proved vivid in all its diversity - two
which became probably most manifest when, on Saturday evening, we were
singing drinking songs together. “I am the music man...”
Indeed, there was the
drunkard’s joy, but without the hangover following.
what was most new to me, in a Yoga retreat, was the presence of the
even a hundred yards away from the house, nothing but a few stepping
a strand of pebbles in between. The sea, here, formed the undercurrent
Dojo-life. It provided us with a common point of reference for our
conversations. “How’s the sea today?” “The
waves are becoming higher.” It
played a smooth basso continuo as the basis for our improvisations
– for that’s
what we had to do, when after a long rainy walk the picnic was not as
we had imagined; or when during the
massage sessions many of us did not know how to apply the right
nonetheless succeeded. And the sea turned into a guiding force for our
meditations: often we sat down, in the house, but with doors and
opened, so that we could let the wind fondle our cheeks, stare at the
the waves, or close our eyes and listen to their moans and whispers.
It was easier, for me, to let go of my thoughts with
movements around me. Whenever my thoughts were going astray (which, in
meditations, is rather the rule than the exception), I was soon called
into presence by a sound or a breeze. So I tried to listen attentively,
whenever I realized I wasn’t listening anymore, I knew I’d
concentration – and immediately found it again.
During one of the last sessions, directly after such a
thoughts again went astray, but now as a reflection on this experience
in which I saw a metaphor for life in general. It was a cheesy
course, but the harm was already done: it constructed itself into a
rather into fragments of a poem, yet in which I recognized the
possibility of a
totality (during lunch that day, I had just told some people that I
to write poems, only that I never had come any further than mere
that never seemed to fit together into a whole). To make these thoughts
poem, however, required some labor, and soon a writing session provided
opportunity for that. But only half an hour was not enough, of course,
ultimately I spent half the night working on it, now that the words
to me so easily.
Still, such creative excitement does not automatically
make a good poem.
To my own taste, it is too philosophical, a bit grotesque and not very
in its imagery. I nonetheless decided to read it out, the next day, and
by popular demand, to put it up here: because it reflects my experience
of the retreat
and the spirit in general in which I then found, and keep finding