Being Here

Today, I have arrived, after a journey of 67 years, eight months, seventeen days and I won’t bother you with the number of hours, minutes and seconds. It happened within seconds. How long does an arrival take? One moment you have not arrived quite, yet, the next moment you are here.

Since I have struggled for far too long to solve my life’s obstacles on my own, I started seeing Peter, (M.B., B.S., F.R.A.N.C.P), a consultant psychiatrist. For two years and a bit. After three weeks on the dot, I am still recovering from two operations, which included, especially the week after, a lot of pain.

This morning, at 10:45, I left his rooms, walked down the corridor of the old building. In the doorway, I stopped. My left hand rested on the polished brass handrail. I stood there. Why? I don’t know. I just stood there and looked not consciously seeing what I looked at. Like a snap, I realised, I am old.

The next thing I noticed was a few warm tears. It felt like, I have arrived home. Not joy, nor sadness, almost sweetness. Can a moment last? Sounds like a paradox. It continued for some time. I stood there with this going on inside.


The next thing I noticed was, Pedro, standing there on the pavement. He looked at me for a moment, walked up to me and gave me a hug. Latin Americans do this, without asking. ‘Let’s go for a coffee’, and I followed him. I told him what happened.

He had been just on the way to his car, coming from a counsellor, himself. I did not have much to say, what more can you say than, ‘I have arrived’. He is ten years younger, burdened with problems of work and family. I listened.


He rang in the afternoon. We are close friends. We talked, and there was more clarity. Michael asked, ‘and what are you doing from now on? How is this recognition going to affect your life?’ I hesitated. Growing old is a process.

Every process has a beginning and an end. Most probably, I had arrived at the end of growing old some time ago. I just had not recognised it. Now I have. Maybe, for quite some time, a few years perhaps, I had arrived without realising.

Most probably, this would cause some tension between my body and mind. Now, since I recognised my arrival, this tension is (maybe) gone, and life is (maybe) going to be more comfortable.

Michael is coming for lunch after gym.


He rang a bit later. Isn’t this amazing? Meeting Pedro, friends ringing out of the blue, at the time of change? Henry is a pragmatic, nihilistic atheist, gentleman and always there to help. I told him. His reply? ‘What’s next?’ Ahm. Then we continued chatting, as always.


I really felt like enjoying a glass of wine or more tonight. Admittedly, I have already two. She organises tango dance classes with Quique from Buenos Aires. It’s Tango Vals tonight at seven. She needs an additional leader. She invited me to come. Can I say no to Vals? Never!  After all, the class will only take one hour. I still can go to the Japanese and have a meal and drink.


Big things happen to people all the time, but life keeps on flowing like a river a minute after a big rock has been dropped into it. It may need to flow around it, but it finds its new way without searching, it just does it.  Ok. Can I do it? Do I have a choice? The path of life and I are identical.   Nothing more to say. I better have a shave.


Before enlightenment
Chopping wood, carrying water.
After enlightenment
Chopping wood, carrying water.


Wolfgang Köhler 

10 April 2013
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