Tag Archives: gymnasium

Carla Drift – Years of Dawn 2


My first day at the gymnasium began with approximately 10 kilometres cycling on a hilly road. The school was much larger than our village school. New classmates and many new teachers. Learning remained easy and I made sure not to show it. I remained an outsider as a student from a distant small village with another dialect who cycled alone every day 20 kilometres on my bike.

After some time I was included in a group of girlfriends and I was more at home at school. The lessons were boring and homework was not needed: it had to remain a little exciting. In our village I played music in the harmony; I also had several  girlfriends from the primary school. With a primary school boyfriend I explored the forests and experienced all sorts of adventures. By cycling every day I had an excellent condition – many boys could not follow me until halfway high school they had received sufficient male hormones to exceed me with body strength.

As the oldest of the three sisters I had an advantage: I had control over everything that happened between us. I mothered them; this caused sometimes conflicts with my sisters and my mother. Being the oldest also had a downside: I thought I might control everything that happened between us [1]. I noticed in the third or fourth class that I was the only special daughter. My sisters were ordinary normal pupils; my tutoring for their high school lessons had not much extra result. I was and remained the only outsider in our home.

My second sister was once asked in her class at school how many books were read every year at home. Most families read about 10 books. One classmate mentioned 50 books. My sister said that we read about 500 books. That was fully right: I read about 300 books – also easy books, my father 100 books and my sisters around 50.

In the second half of the gymnasium we had to read books for our final exam. For English I had chosen Ulysses by James Joyce. I had to amend that choice, because our English teacher found this book too complicated [2]. As alternative I chose “Lord of the flies” by William Golding – a novel about the derailment of a group of boys on an island. Of course I also read Ulysses from cover to cover – later when I was older, I understood this book better after a second reading. At a very abstract level the book Ulysses has been model for the structure of our Odyssey to “Who are you”. Yes, from the monologue by Molly Bloom I have learnt a lot about the earthly views of women on men: certainly yes. Again I played hide and seek – now with my feelings of love, until I met my great love a few years later in Delft.

[3]

For Dutch I read among other books the entire oeuvre of Hugo Raes and Jef Geeraerts. By these authors I became sensitive for institutionalised crimes against humanity.

The French existentialists and phenomenologist – Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus – I also read. Simone de Beauvoir was at that time for me a model of a self-conscious intelligent woman – she wrote wonderful books such as “Tous les Hommes sont Mortels” and “Les Belles Images”. Albert Camus with “Le Mythe de Sisyphe” and “L’Homme révolté” showed me far-reaching choices by humans – we will encounter these books later on our Odyssey.

In an overview of world philosophy I read a reference to the Tao Te King by Lao Tse. This book fascinated me because I could not give this book a clear place in my mind set at that time. We will encounter this book in chapter 7 on our Odyssey.

Women’s emancipation and pop music had a limited place in my life at that time. My loves were untouchable and vague; the boys in my area were naive or stupid – except my primary school boyfriend. We made all sorts of wanderings – at the end of the high school we also made distant wanderings of many day. My mother was opposed; my father agreed and began a conversation about the contraceptive pill – this was not the case. We went hiking in Belgium, a few days hitch-hiking to Paris and also to Taizé for the sense of communion – not for the religion. The last summer holiday at high school we travelled through Europe by train for one month. I am still in touch with my primary school boyfriend.

[4]

I learned science – mathematics and physics – without any effort all; I receive a nice outcome at a Mathematics Olympiad. I read the Scientific American in the school library – it was fun to solve the puzzles by Martin Gardner [5].

In the summer holiday after my final exam I read almost all the books of Erich Fromm. His humanism against the current, I found worrying [6] and encouraging. Later, we will encounter his books on our Odyssey.

In my last year of the gymnasium, I decided to continue my life with a technical study at the Delft University of Technology. My father was very proud of me. Together, we quickly found a room in Delft. A new era in another culture dawned.

[7]


[1] See also: Brown, Eleanor, The weird Sisters. HarperCollins p. 121

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_(novel)

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_(novel)

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Paris_Night.jpg

[5] See also: Gardner, Martin, The colossal Book of Mathematics. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001  

[6] See also: Fromm, Erich, Escape from Freedom. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1941

[7] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Delft_stadhuis.jpg

Carla Drift – Years of Dawn


My first communion was a big feast. By my baptism I was already initiated in the Church when I was a few days old. Some boys in our village are registered to the civic guard at birth: they remain member their whole life. Of my baptism I can not remember anything. However, I still wear with me my Christian name with the baptismal names of my godmother and godfather as remembrance.

Later I understood that baptism is the only sacrament that is recognised by the entire Christianity [1]. The children’s baptism is given to children when they are a few days old in order to let the children be in God’s grace as soon as possible. This is important in times of a huge infant mortality. Maybe it is also a relic of the patriarchal Roman law, where the life of a new-born is determined by recognition by the father. In the reformed church near the end of the second world war in 1944, there was a schism about the question whether a child will be in God’s grace through baptism or whether baptism is a vocation to live as God’s child [2]. Our village was not concerned with this kind of questions; our village lived within the rich Catholic life with all its habits and defects.

[3]

At the beginning of the primary school we were prepared for our first communion. We learned the first principles of the Catholic faith. In the middle of the spring I did my first communion. I went dressed in a beautiful white dress in a procession to the Church. The first hosting sticked to my palate; this was my only special reminder of this High mass. Then we had a big family celebration. The entire family of my mother and my father were present. I was overwhelmed with gifts. My parents were proud that their first daughter was included in the community and in the Church. I felt myself in the center of attention.

[4]

With my faith I played half hide and seek. Invisibly the guardian angel was always present, I foresaw if something might go wrong. I made sure that it did end well. But at my right shoulder, I did not feel the guardian angel. It seemed to me unwise to show my doubt. Nobody did that. Nobody in our village doubted on the next breath, except if one was very old or if there was anyone in the family dying and afterwards died. Then we went to Church to pray for the soul of the deceased and for themselves. I have thought a few years that in my mother’s village in Belgium the largest family was named Late; they always talked about this name. Around my sixth year I found out that the family Late lived half in Heaven and half on the cemetery: later I would also go to this family if I would live neatly. In our village you had to behave very bad to stay in purgatory for a long time. The older women prayed a lot and all families faithfully attended the year’s services and the cemetery on All Souls Day. For hell and purgatory, I was not afraid.

When I was eight years, I did the Holy confirmation [5]. The Holy Spirit would help me to strengthen my faith. The Bishop said at my confirmation: “Signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti” (Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit). Out of boredom I had learned some Latin from the Missal of my father during many long Masses. The gift of the Holy Spirit did not help me with my faith. I saw increasing evidence that the father God was created to the likeness of his believers and not the other way around as the Catholic Church reminded us. Around that time the “rich Catholic Life” started to diminish in South Limburg; we only went to church at important Christian days.

Our master in the fifth and sixth class had finished an internship at De Werkplaats Kindergemeenschap – The Workshop Childrens’ Communion – of Kees and Betty Boeke in Bilthoven. He was since one year at our school and I have learned a lot during these two years. He encouraged me to read together with my father many books from the library and we made many essays and presentation on what we have read. My father and I have read Kees Boeke’s “We in the universe, a universe inourself” [6] from cover to cover. My father and I bought a microscope and a telescope. Together we read books on astronomy and microscopy. For school we made at least four essays and presentations on these topics.

[7]

We did the same for world history and for other religions. We read books on Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

At the national final test in primary school, I did not play hide and seek. The master proudly told that our class had an excellent outcome. The entire class was well above the national average. I had only one error on a specific question we could not know, because we did not live in Holland. The master ensured that everyone entered an appropriate further education. I went to the gymnasium in the city.


[1] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doop_(sacrament)

[2] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrijmaking

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Child_baptism_with_water.jpg

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Bundesarchiv_Bild_194-0552-30,_Prozession_der_Kommunionkinder.jpg

[5] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vormsel

[6] See: Boeke, Kees, Wij in het heelal, een heelal in ons – Twee tochten: door macrokosmos en microkosmos. Amsterdam: J.M. Meulenhoff, 1959. This book has been published as Cosmic Viewthe Universe in 40 Jumps in English

[7] Source image: http://www.vendian.org/mncharity/cosmicview/ . The English version of this book can be read by this hyperlink.