On Choosing from a Place of Fire.

Each and every time I have gone to my father for advice in the past five years, there is really only one response could expect from him. It is advice he was given a million times by his mother, who was a passionate Indonesian woman, the original wanderer in our family, the person we all called home, the head of our westernised tribe. One who moved from her home in Jakarta to the Netherlands in the 1940’s. One who decided in her early twenties that Brazil was the place to build a family. There she had three children, which she moved back to Boxtel after a decade of living the South American life.

My favourite story about her was when she and my dad’s biological father got into a heated argument back in their country home in Brazil. Yelling as she was prone to do in her high-pitched raspy voice. Her eyes big and sparking with fury. I don’t know what they fought about, but knowing her it could have been anything from him telling her how to improve a recipe that was dear to her, to insulting one of their children in a minor way, to flirting with the neighbour’s wife. When her rage got the best of her, as it often did, she took a kitchen knife and smacked him on the head with its handle. Probably inflicting some true pain, yet still being able to realise that the edged part of her kitchen equipment might be a step too far.

I’ve heard similar stories of her attacking him with a pan, and once she allegedly involved a vacuum cleaner in the dance of her rage.

My name might mean ‘flame,’ but my grandmother was the person who showed me what real fire looks like in a human being. She was the most loving person I have met in my life, pouring the whole of her heart into every interaction we have ever had. But when you wronged her, she was equally passionate to show you how even the softest hearts can have sharp edges.

And the piece of advice she gave my father when he was young and struggling and coming to her for a perspective he could not find himself was, without change, to do whatever felt best in the deepest creases of his heart. She was a soulful woman filled with nuance and driven by an open heart. And she taught us all to do the same.

Now, I am quite emotionally driven anyway. But at times the analytical parts of my brain try and take over to make the final decision out of a place of proven data. Those choices often seem right for a little while, and then my softness takes over, my creative mind, the purest fire that is etched into my soul and it doesn’t seem like the thing for me anymore.

It might work in theory, it might seem straightforward and wise when put on paper. But if it doesn’t feel right in those places that matter most, if the feeling isn’t there for it, if your heart doesn’t want to pour itself dry into whatever endeavour you see as a possible next step, it’s not likely to ever be quite right.