His father had been a farmer. A poor, hard working, small-time farmer. Each morning before dawn he was under the cows, followed by long days pulling weeds and clearing ditches. Five cows, 1 and 1/2 pig, 8 sheep, 13 chickens and one rooster and with luck, some eggs. Cats were always walking around but he was never sure how many. They always disappeared in the winter when on some Sundays the whole family ate a special meal. The dog had died and was never replaced.
He made a vow to work his way out of this cruel life. Away from this simplistic and enslaving primitive lifestyle. For him and his family. The road to prosperity.
And thus, at the age of 16, he moved to the city. He found a job as a production worker in the district’s milk factory and got himself a nice small rental home. No more fussing around with animals or destroying skin with rough soil under a burning sun or in pouring rain. No more cats for diner. He had done well.
His son did even better. He studied hard -something with law and taxes- and bought a nice and expensive townhouse along one of the city’s precious canals with a deep back garden were a pool was build for the kids. Only one came. The little lonely emperor. To his service, maids were hired and fired, depending on his mood. To pay for all that he had to work hard. But he made it: on track to really be someone. He did well. At least in the beginning.
A new young and fresh assistant changed it all. The short thoughtless flirt had long-lasting implications. With his wife -or rather the shadow of what she once was- he agreed to wait with the divorce until their son had left home. And that was much sooner then he had expected. Not that he had noticed it. By now he was making hard 30-hours workdays: half of it on never-ending paper work and irritating clients, the other half, with enough overlap of course, on cheap wine and Heineken. In the end, quality always gives way for quantity. Most of the time he slept in his office where he had placed a coach just for that reason, and most of the time alone. His son had left without a word. He discovered it 3 weeks later. They had a house but no home. More than that even; some years earlier, in a melancholic moment of a hopeful illusion that he might be able to turn the tide, he had bought back his grandfathers farm -his father’s father’s farm!- and turned it into a little paradise. Although it never became their weekend residence he had hoped it to be and it didn’t save the family from the rapidly progressing decay, at least it gave him a chance to hide from reality. And have a beer or two, or more.
His grandson now -the son’s son, just to be clear- is different. And how can he not be? He made a vow never to fall into the trap of his father’s footsteps. After starting many studies and finishing none and blaming his upbringing and his father’s destructive lifestyle, he decided to find his mantra. For years there was no sign of him while he experienced high moments in dark back-alleys of Katmandu and shook heads with Indian shamans and stood on his head under the protective eyes of the four headed elephant on the top of the holy mountain of Emei Shan.
On the beach in Bali he was robbed and with this new change of his wheel of life with no more money but lots of enlightenment, he recognized it for what it was: time to go back.
Knowing that life must be more than serving money and free from the enslaving social expectations, he moved into his great grandfather’s old farm house that had been unused since its last transformation. All he longed for was honest work and a simple and primitive lifestyle leading to an enlightenment that would make Geert Grote’s Modern Devotion look pale.
The work surely came, and lots of it; the enlightenment never did. Nevertheless, so it happened that the old man now finds his grandson each morning before dawn to be under the cows, followed by long days pulling weeds and clearing ditches. He has 5 cows, 1 and 1/2 pig, 8 sheep, 13 chickens and one rooster and with luck, some eggs. Cats are always around but he is never sure how many. They seem to disappear in the winter when on some Fridays they eat a special meal. But the dog, the dog still barks. In Holland. In America. In China. The dog still barks. And unto him, a son was born. Is it then all vanity and a chasing after wind?
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