What 400-year-old walls do to you. Sometimes. Seldomly.

Herbert van Hoogdalem

More | Personal Experiences

What 400-year-old walls do to you. Sometimes. Seldomly.

Herbert van Hoogdalem

More | Personal Experiences

Magic & Inspiration

It looks pretty good that I give(return) that to brands & people – this way on my profile. And yes, I think it’s true, if I may believe those people and brands.


But I do. But. But.


That medal also has a downside. The balance could turn out to be upside down – anyway a point of attention in my case, anyway. And then ‘giving’ becomes: emptying, leaking, whirlpools, flooding, being sucked up. Until there is only a small puddle, not perceptible to the naked eye. From which, with difficulty, two or three air bubbles burst, splattering against the immense high, steep and by now long dried up walls.






Not a breath of wind.

Not a bit of air.





Once the leak is there, pumping useless, when water spirit levelling is not a topic, the descent starts, the thin soil under your feet becomes an inclined plane – if there’s too much given and you got too little, I always only get it way too late.


I only see the signals afterwards.


During the descent of the NAP, I always get grumpy. Sick. Tired. I start hitting, kicking, tapping.

Pushing away.




Through my hips. My knees. My ankles.

Thinking that refelcting solves everything.

I gasp for breath.


Till the Total Void, The Great Nothing.


There it is.


Then I’m not on Facebook, not on Linkedin, not on Instagram. Then there is no inspiration. I have all sorts of opinions, but I don’t need to share them. There is actually nothing outspoken about it, as is normal. Nothing amusing either. Nothing exciting. Nothing hilarious. And there’s not even self-mockery anymore. There is only doubt then. About choices. Made or yet to be made. About myself. About the course. About what on earth I am doing. And why really. And what I don’t think. Or think. Or have ever thought.


How then, my boy?


I should know better by now. Nothing ‘story of my life’, but rewriting that script. The stories you keep telling yourself. Why something wouldn’t work. While you Keep Telling The Whole Time The Whole World That Everything Works, If You Only Want To. And still shows how too.


On the devastated bottem of The Pitt, there is always – after all – again, yes… Magic. And inspiration. Knocking at the door.


I don’t understand why that well doesn’t dry up. That it just keeps on going. Forever and ever and ever. Always. Again. And maybe you shouldn’t want to fathom that either.


But when I feel the first splashes of cool comfort on my face again, when the first light evaporates the tears that have not been cried, then there is only gratitude. Then there is the Old Knowing, of  thousands of years, that Everything Always Turns Out Well, or better: All Is. Then the Lessons emerge again, which have been lovingly stamped into it, even though that was years ago – lives even, perhaps. You even had it scratched into your left and right forearms, once, in East Indian ink. In Hebrew and in your mother tongue. As a cheat sheet, which you look at far too little, and which a guest, here at the Emmaus Monastery, needed to point out.


Where I landed again last Sunday. Unexpectedly received in softness by the building itself, the thick walls working the way they were once meant to be: as a refuge. Where, to be honest, I first drove to with some pain in the belly, a head full of endless thoughts, scenarios, conversations, twists, choices, options, fragments, a jumble of jumps between left, right, here, there, tendencies, instincts, patterns, old behaviour or: …New.


Moving along and Learning, being Supple & Growing, yielding & Becoming Bigger.


Less Thinking Largly.

Making Less Big.

Less Engaging.

Less Personal. Taking.


Don’t Fight.

Don’t Flight.

But also not: Freezing.


More little step. After little step. After little step. After little step.

Bend, don’t break. Don’t demolish but build. Build along.


On entering, the white butterfly on the inside of the window said it would be alright.


But: I had only just closed the thick door behind me, the key still in my hand, a heavy bag around my drooping shoulders. I didn’t believe it yet. Completely alone in 300-year-old corridors that had experienced many times worse – I was a laughing stock compared to the miracles that appeared here, the deaths that fell, the dreams that were broken. And healed again.


First there was the evening. Which I had to struggle through.

A cell.

A field bed.

A rough blanket that had covered before.

The cloak.

Of love.

Which offered no way out.

The dead quiet countryside.

A night as black as night.

An outstretched grey hand, with long nails, those fingers of stress, curving around your throat. My throat. My demon. My fight. Man against man.


The hollow, staring, stiff eyes.


The emptiness of your own soul, the unfathomable depth of your past, the total lack of ground, of solid ground, of something you wish had been given.


The silent screaming because you know that nobody hears you, that nobody listens. The senseless fear, the distressing pain of want, the echo of lacking.


The edge. From the abyss.


And then winning. From your Greatest Enemy.




Waking up totally wrung out. All given. And everything again received.


A day that invites you to take in the air again, to straighten your back, to stand up again. On your feet. Of that disgustingly strong body, that should have died 6, 7, 8 times already. Could have been.


That phrase you thought up the other day. For a client – you thought. Singing through your head: “You’ve only lost if you stay lying down”. Your own smile, the deep awareness of wholeness, of roundness, of the circle. In which you take your place again. Firm. In the middle. Your own Middle.


The day that lifts you up in its loving energy, the day that just goes its own way. The day that welcomes you again.


The Magic. That shows how much fun magic really is. That all this and everyone else participates in the game of which we sometimes briefly don’t see the Big Picture.


The Inspiration that fills you again, a tsunami of meaningful moments that befall you again – beakers of pleasure, filled to the brim with wonder which you greedily drink. Which you suddenly see again. In their full extent.


Gloria. In Excelsis deo. Instead of Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtani.


It is accomplished. You would almost start believing again (almost, I said).


And then: the connections, the silver platters presenting themselves again. The encounters, again. The opportunities. The possibilities. The Higher Purpose. The shared interests. An M that sticks, suddenly takes on a role.


The guest who knocks on the door, at ten o’clock in the evening. Still. Tired. But clearly not satisfied.


The door you may open again, people you can let back in yourself. The click. The look. The chemistry. The instant connection with E, which two seconds ago was a complete stranger.


The magic.

The Inspiration. The Recognition.

Flowing cheerfully again, hopping, hand in hand, let go, screaming with joy. The evening with conversations that could have lasted nights, weeks, yes lives.


And the new night. Many times lighter than ever.

The veil that is gone again, and the morning that jubilates. Invites you, points at ways, shows the distance again, your dot on the horizon clearly defined.


The coffee.

The chair.

The view over centuries of garden, which will lie far beyond me, which will continue to blossom and give – because there’s nothing else it can do. Does not know any better.


The cat. That crawls on your lap uninvitedly.


And the fingers, which suddenly glide over the keyboard by themselves.


On to New Stories.