Monday, May 23, 2016

Chess and Chekhov

During my childhood, we went on a vacation by means of a tank. At least, that what it felt like to me. When you're a kids, everything feels (at least) three times as big. So my parents station wagon - grey, rusty and Japanese - to me was a tank. Most of our vacations in that era took place in Germany. These days, that's a short a hop...but back it was a survival trip that crossed half the world. (Today, if I want to travel as far as Germany felt back then, I'd have to book a ticket to Pluto.)

To survive this trip - not to mention my three sisters - I had to deploy multiple methods. The top three consisted of reading, sleeping and listening to music. The latter came in two categories. For the kids there were children's song, among which Sesame street - especially Bert and Ernie - were the most popular. These were mixed with musicals. This probably wasn't just because my parents liked them, but also because they had long playtimes. (Thus allowing them to have background music, while still focusing on the children and the road.)

In our family, there were two. A Dutch musical called Chekhov (about the Russian writer) and an American musical called Chess. As a kid, I wasn't the biggest fan of these musicals. In fact, there was plenty of grumping and complaining when these musical started from the beginning again. (They liked to loop them.) But times changed and my knowledge of English improved...

These days when I suffer from writer's block, the best cure is...listening to Chekhov or Chess. (And if that doesn't work, I still have a huge collection of other music. This column - for instance - was partially written to Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are Changin') En the chances didn't stop there. The 'tank' was sold ages ago, while me and my sisters moved out centuries ago.

And now the hard part of this column. The punch-line.....But maybe it's already in here. (Thank you, Mister Dylan.) Times change. And so does our perspective. When we look at the world, we look through our eyes. But is this best thing to do ? Maybe we should try to watch the world from the perspective of our children ? Try to imagine how they will be when they grow up ? And how those people would see the world ? Decide for yourself.

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