Schrijfster Rasha Khayat uit Hamburg woont en werkt op uitnodiging van Leeuwarden City of Literature een ruime maand in de stad. Vandaag deel 4 (slot) uit haar dagboek als writer in residence.

“Everything you touch, you change”

I think about acceptance. My last day in Leeuwarden has arrived and as my train pulls out of the station, I do cry a few tears behind my big dark shades, pressing my backpack to my chest. But something inside me also tells me very confidently, that while yes, these magical first weeks here in Friesland might be over for now, my connection to this place and also to some of my new friends here will only grow, InshallahGod willing.

Train rides and traveling days are made for melancholy, sentiment and inventory.

My inventory is easy and I have to say more than satisfactory. Not only has this month felt pleasantly like a year in rest, reflection, clarity, clouds and horizons, it has also given me much more pages of notes and writing than I had dared to hope. “I’m so glad to hear this”, one of my best writer friends texts me. “This is the first residency I hear someone actually did any writing”, followed by a laughing emoji. This might actually be true, at least in my case. Of all the residencies I was so privileged to be invited to, this one here in Leeuwarden is the first one where real, actual writing has materialized. Writing that might eventually turn into something. A book of essays, a novel, something solid.

But as I watch the green fields and trees and clouds of Friesland pass me by through the train window, I can feel that this month has been something else as well. I am tempted to call it transformative in a way.

A couple of years ago I went through a bit of a rough patch, and only partly due to my own doing. I won’t say more, only I was left pretty devastated at the time and also completely unable to write. It’s been a while and I had thought it all behind me. Only now I understand, how much my body was still holding on to that old pain, how much confidence was taken from me back then. And how my time here has also helped me let that go for good now, helped to shed that layer of skin. I leave it here, buried in the muddy soils of the Waddenzee as a reminder that everything is temporary indeed.

So I think about acceptance. To accept what is, not focus on what isn’t, or what isn’t anymore. Accept who we are now, not dwell on who are not any longer. To work with what we have, at the same time dare to move forward also, to embrace change when it comes knocking, to not be blinded by ideas and images of ourselves we’ve once been taught or we once thought we would become. To trust and let go of what might no longer fit us.

Lessons I am now seeing in this Friesian landscape, in the limitless generosity of horizons & tides.

Because eventually, if we’re lucky, the tide will bring something new and beautiful into our lives. Learning to also accept these gifts, as much as we accept and eventually release old pain, is a challenge I think we all should just embrace. Acceptance without guilt or shame. Simply open up, trust, take it in and maybe store it away for times not so bright.

One of my favourite quotes I have framed over my desk at my home comes from Octavia Butler’s novel “Parabel of the Sower”: “Everything you touch, you change. Everything you change, changes you. The only lasting truth is change.” And as my distance grows with every added kilometer of my journey, I breathe in with deep and profound gratitude for this month, for this experience, for all the thoughts, ideas, reflections and even changes it has brought into my life and my thoughts.

And so I close this diary with a deep confidence in my timely return. Because after all, whatever book has been conceived here, surrounded by the Friesian greens and clouds, might as well be pushed over the finishing line exactly where it started. I can’t wait for it to happen.