The Island of Love

Far out at sea beyond the coast, behind the stormy cape, is a small island. It is so small that it is only shown on the most exact maps. All the same, it possesses a certain fame in informed circles. The sailors name it the “Island of Love”.

Quite a few people at some point in their lives undertake a journey there. They explore this island in detail. They thereby discover astonishing things.

Some presume, before they get to know the island better, that you will immediately get from the Coast of Being in Love to the Hill of the Homeland, and are surprised at the length of the path that leads them there, through the mysterious Valley of the Middle. Some are amazed that it is not possible for them to visit the soft slopes of the Familiar and at the same time to be at the Peak of Arousal. Others already look forward to the Pot of Passion – as the largest volcano crater of the island is called. Yet they are amazed that the ascent is quite strenuous and that it leads past the seething Chasm of Fear and the smoking Vent of Anger. Those who seek danger bathe at the Cliff of Failure at the Cape of Excessive Demands. Yet even expert swimmers have come into distress and drowned at the east-lying Ocean of Boredom.

I say this because it is often forgotten that only those who traverse the island with effort and danger find the whole beauty of this place. Some build a house on the island or put up a tent. And I have seen those who have already lived there a long time smile at the enthusiasm of the newcomers who still harbour hope of exploring the Island of Love in only one day or a week.


“Now I am forty years old. I am an aged man”, he said and nodded his head. He was a man from Kenya, from the area around Mombasa. “But, I beg your pardon, you’re not old!” I replied to him. “Yes, I am old, and don’t you dare claim anything else”, he said. “In Kenya it is good to be old. The older, the better.”

Picking Blackberries

As a child I often helped my parents in the garden. I remember how my father instructed me to harvest blackberries. “Take a blackberry in your hand and pull at it a little. Not tightly, only quite lightly. If it is ripe, it will fall easily into your hand by itself. If it doesn’t come off by itself, leave it. That one still tastes sour.”

The Storyteller

Many years ago, there lived an old man in our country who knew how to tell so many tales that the people said about him: This man is an inexhaustible source. Yet more notably he had the gift of telling each tale in such a way that it became the story of the listener. Often the storyteller had many listeners, and sometimes, after one of his tales, he could hear them having a dispute, for each person felt deeply that the words had been chosen exclusively for him, while someone else claimed the same for himself.

People came to the storyteller with multifarious concerns. There was a mother who accused her son of being dull and inactive. And her son replied that, since she was always wandering restlessly about, he could not work. There was a woman who complained that she constantly had to admonish her husband not to drink so much. And her husband said, only when he was drinking could he bear her habit of complaining. There were children who ate too much or too little, there were the sick who wished to recover, and those who were suffering and hoped to be freed from pain. There were couples, who wanted to come together, and others who wished to separate, and many other people who addressed him with their needs. He was able to help all of them in one way or another.

One day a young man stepped up towards him saying: “I want to learn this art of yours.” The old man looked in his eyes. Those eyes told him about the desire of this young man, to be able to tell stories to free people from their sufferings. They also spoke of the young man’s fear that his wish could be denied, and that he would never have the opportunity to learn this art from its master. The old man nodded. “You can live with me as long as you are learning, and you can pay later if you are content with what you have learned. The young man was happy to hear this reply, and thus began his apprenticeship.

“First you need to learn to pay reverence to the stories”, the old man said to him. “Only he who can tremble from the power of a story can receive it with its full effect. You need to find within yourself the yearning for the word of release, for the word that frees, for the word which opens the doors and sends your listeners on a voyage. And you need to learn to be silent. The moment when your tale has its greatest force is the moment when it moves your listener and yourself with the greatest speed. This is when it must end, so you gain momentum and are flung on the path that it shows. – This is not true of all the stories”, he added wisely after a pause.

“You need to learn to feel the power of the words” he stated on another occasion. “One sentence does not have the same power as another. For mostly it is like this: Any word that is too much is taking away some of the story’s power. The contrary may be true for people who talk a lot without saying much: Their speech robs their listeners’ strength.”

“There are different powers within words” he once said. “Threatening and strengthening powers, and power that guides you on your search. All three are good. But you must know, which of the powers is contained in the story that you are telling.” All this the young man heard with curiosity and wonder. Yet he felt grieved to find that the old man did not tell him any stories. It even seemed as if his master hid his tales from him, and only told them when he was absent. At first he did not dare ask the old man about this. But with every day that passed by, his disappointment grew, and finally he decided to address this question. He had not yet opened his mouth when his master began to speak:

All by Itself

A man stood at the glass door of a department store early in the morning, with the intention of entering. The door wouldn’t even open an inch. He tried to push against it, but nothing happened. He could have knocked or called. He could have tried to open the door by force. The man did none of these. He looked at the sign with the opening times, looked at his watch, and then went for a walk for about ten minutes. Then he came back and stepped in front of the door. The door now opened all by itself, automatically and as if from the hand of a ghost.

Easter Eggs

How does one find Easter eggs? And why do some people search but not find? In case you are searching and have not yet found, allow me, as well as I can, to give you some hints.

Possibility one: very small children will not find any Easter eggs because they do not know what Easter eggs are. Sent off without a guide, they will most likely return with mushrooms and tufts of grass.

Possibility two: slightly biggerolder children know what Easter eggs look like but do not yet understand how to actually “search”. There are different ways of searching. And in case one himself isyou are an Easter egg, one yourself, you must know: A good way to find is to allow oneself to be found.

Possibility three: somewhat biggerstill older children know what Easter eggs look like and how one looks for them, but they possibly search at the wrong time and in the wrong place. Have you ever searched for Easter eggs in places where there are no Easter eggs anywherenone? Then you know what I mean.

Possibility four: the Easter eggs are there, but they look a bit different than they did the previous year. Perhaps one knowsyou know them as being red and blue, and this time they are dyed in camouflage green. The inner image of the eggs does not correspond to the outer one. A frequent reason why people do not find what they are searching for is because it does not look like what they are accustomed to.

Possibility five: the Easter eggs are there and look as they did the previous year, but they are covered by something else. For example, clumps of grass, a piece of bark or an old drainpipe are lying on top of them. What is truly valuable oftentimes hides itself. OneYou must search for it.

When one considersyou consider all these possibilities and still doesdo not find any Easter eggs, there is only one thing that can help: pick up a paint brush and paint, and colour your own Easter eggs, red, yellow and blue, and hide them all over the place. Preferably so that a small, colourful part always peeps out from the green meadow!


“Ready”, called the egg when it was laid. “Now I’m ready!” called the tadpole when it had hatched. “Now I’m completely ready!” called the creature,animal when it had two legs. “Now, finally, I’m absolutely completely ready!” called the creature when it had four legs and a long tail. “Who knows what else might come…”, said the frog, when it was ready.