You must change your life.
It is the last sentence in the poem Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rilke that inspired me to give up everything at once and change my life. Yes, again.
Of course, there is only so much one can change. Certain facts, like having three children, having bills to pay and the rain pouring down in Amsterdam in November are things that remain true forever. For me.
But for a lot of the other things; they are stories that are yet to be written. I decided to rewrite the answers to a few particular questions that have been with me for a while now.
How do I feel about some things in my life right now?
Why have I stopped smiling at the person crossing the street?
How can I make a slightly better choice than I did yesterday?
How do I eat my apple?
To go somewhere, you must first decide not to stay where you are.
And so in August I decided to sell my car, quit my job and take a radical pause. My youngest daughter pointed out soon enough: "Mom, not working really suits you well". I agreed with her.
I packed my bag and flew to Turkey where I started with a creative writing course. What better way to begin with a new story, right? We gathered at a cute pension near sea, in a small village where you can still hear the muezzin calling for the ritual of prayer. The town's main attraction is the square where all the men gather for sweet çai (tea) and backgammon when the light turns golden and you can see the shimmering of sand and dust floating just above the road.
It was a week full of writing exercises, late afternoon dips in the ocean, ripe figs falling from trees, the scent of bougainvillea from the garden mixed with the scent of roasted eggplant and other local produce coming out of the large kitchen at dinner time. We ate, we wrote and we laughed.
It was long since I myself had attended a 'group' workshop experience. Group dynamics are so interesting, with enough happening for a complete novel of itself, but I managed. That is to say; I managed to find a balance between learning, being part of a group, relaxing and being with myself.
It was the start of a writing adventure that took me to some islands in Greece, traveling solo. It was also the start of my new life.
I am now writing a novel. I write almost every day.
If it will ever be published is a question I will be living in for a while.
Here is a link to the Creative Writing Course (in Dutch) that I followed.
Archaic Torso of Apollo
Rainer Maria Rilke
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,
gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.
Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:
would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.