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  • Writer's pictureLeon de Leeuw

Boyan's reflections

Boyan slowly dozed off by the fireplace. As his head dropped, he continuously shook awake again. He had drunk too much and this would disrupt his sleep. Apart from that, his night was pleasant. He had reflected on his ended marriage with Sylvia, the woman who left him for a more independent life. She had felt trapped like stuck with glue and wanted more adventure. Boyan was left with his inner voice and had days to fill, reflecting on the best parts of his life. As a pensioner, he had little to do but chop wood for the fireplace and stuck it next to the house in a neat pile. His father had taught him to master building a woodpile so he would be nice and warm through winter. “The trick is to lay the wood in the sun. If not possible, place it where it’s windy. Wind dries wood faster than the sun”, is what his dad would tell. Boyan had always loved to head into the forest but his wife Sylvia was never up for it. Exactly for that reason he didn’t understand what she went after in her current, more adventurous episode. Boyan thought she just got tired of him as he was not much of a talker. He strongly disliked discussing things as the weather or the latest gossip.

Boyan was a man of action rather than words. Spoken words do only so little. A man is no man when he makes promises but does not live up to them. Boyan wondered why Sylvia would never join him into the forest, so he could show her how to chop wood and later carve objects. Boyan looked at the wall and some artefacts he made still hang there, like nothing had changed. Boyan had wanted to burn them in the fireplace upon her leaving but he kept them to admire his own craftsmanship. Boyan was not exactly looking for another relationship, not even so much for companionship. He liked the calm mornings when he slowly sipped tea and made crossword puzzles. It was always Sylvia whom hit his newspaper whilst he held it up, she would even take a pen to cross through the puzzles he was solving. Rather annoying. “You’re such a bore. Why not cuddle in bed instead of this? Old bag!” she said jokingly. She was quite serious about it, as it turned out.

An uncomfortable feeling took over Boyan and he remembered how he never really loved Sylvia. He could imagine she felt she got the cold shoulder. From their wedding at the coast until the point she left, he had been too afraid to tell her his true feelings. He had never felt intimate with anyone and severely doubted the love for her that he vouched for at their wedding. Sylvia was a woman of traditions and permitted little space for imperfections. As the years passed, they had children, which Boyan felt forced into. Both of them thought it would bring them closer together. How Boyan had performed the act of lovemaking once more, he did not know. Boyan had always lived up to each and everyone’s expectations. As Sylvia had left, his soul cracked and Boyan felt broken for many months on end. Somehow, during his reflections, he had forgiven himself. He forgave Sylvia for leaving and himself for not being able to give her the love he had promised. Likewise, he forgave himself for being a loveless husband when their children grew up. Forced hugs and Sylvia’s wanting eyes just proved their children that something was not right. The spark had never been there, which tore Sylvia apart. She knew she had just one shot at starting the perfect family, at least so she felt.

Boyan had held his breath for at least ten seconds and let go again. These reflections did him much good but not when he was alone. When alone, the mind can turn into an enemy and start making trouble against you. It can be a friend first and at second it can quickly turn its back on you. It looks inside its every nook and finds matters to reflect on, not always positive. Fatalistic often. Every upside has a downside and still, Boyan had to live with himself and his restless mind. He had started breathing more deeply to feel more grounded, in an attempt to give his lost years a place in history. When the thoughts piled up again, he poured another glass of rakia and mumbled “cheers. Old bag that you are”. He started breathing consciously again and then, the phone rang. It was his son Artur, the only child he was still in touch with. The others either didn’t answer his calls or would pick up and make an end to it after just a few minutes. “How are you, son..” Boyan said as he exhaled. “I'm fine, thank you. I think I’m in love, dad. But I’m not sure. I think she loves me and I want to love her.. But how can I be sure I love her too?” Boyan had a sense of recognition and felt the doubt in Artur’s voice. “You’ll know it when you feel it, son. But first, you’ll have to love yourself. If you take the utmost care of you first and put yourself on place number one for a while, you’ll be able to love another soul. I know you have problems saying no but you have to ask yourself if you really want to get to know this girl. Son, you must not live up to everyone's expectation. Not your mother’s, as she could care less, and not to mine. Not to the girls’. Be the man you want yourself to be first.” “Dad, how can I be a man I want to be?”, Artur said. “I’ll tell you what I realized way too late. You pour yourself a glass, look at anything intensely, a blank wall for all I care. Then you let your thoughts race and do not interrupt them. In your silence, you’ll find answers. The right answers. If you make your unconsciousness conscious, you will not walk through life in a haze anymore. Only when you have buckets full of love for yourself, and these overflow when you take them from the well that is your mind, you can share the drink of love with another soul.” Boyan and Artur both realized that the lack of love for the self, led to the divorce. “The one expectation I do have from you, son, is that you give more love to you than I did to myself.”

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