It had long been clear to him that a change was coming. But when the moment came, it still was a bit of a surprise. Not that there was even a moment’s doubt. What ripens long is quickly picked.
The brook, which runs along the road, provides plenty of fresh water, and ends up in a small lake. John is happy to be able to freshen up later, and to rinse off the dust from the walk. Washing clothes is not yet possible; they do not have time for that. Fresh underwear and flared outerwear should suffice for now. With Edith’s splashing sounds in the background he studies the bank on the other side, and lets the encounters of the past few days pass by again. Those encounters in themselves were quite instructive.
Joseph’s roots were in a different time and a different continent. The young women and children affectionately call him “lolo”, and without exception the men approach him with reverence and esteem. When John told him about his intention to travel away with Edith, Joseph simply said: “It is good to regularly make up the balance of your life. Every day is a new opportunity, with choices for your future. Just make sure you don’t regret any choice later on. “
Now every day costs energy, but they are rewarded with euphoric feelings when they complete a difficult stage, solve a problem satisfactorily, or simply through beautiful panoramas of landscapes. They feel welcome by the curious animals that follow them, with hardly noticeable sounds and glistening eyes in dense vegetation. According to Edith, it is precisely this variety and dynamism that attracts them. This is no longer a comfort zone. Everyday life, even though there is a recurring routine, is now much more varied and surprising.
Then Edith notices some movement in the distance, and almost utters a cry of fright. Further afield, the forest ends in a light spot, and behind the silhouettes of dark trunks she sees figures walking, running, and feels more than she hears it that there’s a fight out there. Someone flees the road, in their direction, then falls over and doesn’t get up anymore. Now they also smell smoke, and see occasional flames flaring up. Apparently it is not just wood that burns yonder.
Amused, with a hand in her side, Edith watches the flute player. Although peaceful, he still looks lively. Edith can not see any emotion or value judgment in his glistening eyes. Apparently he is doing well. The pieces of fabric and leather hanging around him hardly succeed in concealing his large figure, apparently something he absolutely doesn’t worry about. Yet no wealth can be found here. It seems as if all worldly values have vanished.
Surprised John and Edith look at the ruins that cover the vast terrain. Of course they knew houses made of stone, but these were usually just one storey high. In rare cases there was a 3-storey tower, with an additional wooden structure on top of it. The buildings they are currently looking at must have been gigantic in the past! Steep walls everywhere, high windows, big doors, huge buttresses to support the walls… Such an overwhelming thing they’ve never seen before!
You remember what we always said to each other: how people think about something, what they say to others about it, and what they ultimately do, often are three very different ones. You may call them hypocrites, or liars, but in the end it’s only about what they do, how they convert things and how they treat us. Anything else doesn’t really count, even if you feel challenged, or treated unfairly.
“You know,” says the neighbor in goodbye, “in that group I saw some people that I experience very differently during the day. Then they are friendly and open, and not at all as aggressive as tonight. To me, such a parade is not the problem. The danger is in that one single ambitious politician who uses this mass for his own gain.”
Joseph had been a gifted painter. In his own style he captured scenes, tranquil moments in which time slows down a little and a hidden message is revealed. Usually a moderately positive image, and rarely dark and cold. Yet the play of light and dark was in all his work, just like in his thinking and way of life. Prosperity and setbacks alternate, and both have their use, just like rain and sunshine. If things go well you should harvest, and if things go wrong, it is time to take some distance and rethink.