“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity…” Some scientists believe they have identified that fine line as the gene called neuregulin 1, a gene found in common with high creativity and psychopathology. My anxiety and occasional paranoia does not allow me to survey my friends as to which side of the line they think I might dwell. There may be a few of you wondering why I might begin a post in such a bewildering manner. The answer lies in the Netherlands…Amsterdam to be specific.
Amsterdam was a moving experience, literally and figuratively. It started with the train ride, several hours long with three transfers along the way. After being lulled into a relaxed state by the rhythmic sounds and vibrations of the train moving over the tracks, my excitement was triggered by a welcome to the Netherlands sign…a few moments later, there it was standing tall and looking good – the ideal Dutch windmill. In my utter amazement, I forgot to take a picture. I think maybe as I grow older, I am taking fewer photos and spending more time enjoying the moment. I’ve got to watch that because I’m sure you want to see some pics.
Central Station, Amsterdam was a moving experience. After disembarking from the train and weaving in and out of the station, past arriving and departing trains, I entered the bustling downtown scene. Wow! If you ever decide to visit Amsterdam, be alert, be very alert. There were cars, vans, taxis, trams, buses and most importantly, bicycles flying around moving in all directions. If you don’t look down, you might find yourself standing on tram rails and an approaching tram with no sense of humor or patience. But the bicycles, oh! the bicycles. I’ve never seen anything like it. There were old bicycles, new bicycles, small bicycles, large bicycles, multi-geared bicycles, one speed bicycles, bicycles with wire baskets, bicycles with milk crates, bicycles with saddlebags, tricycles, covered taxi bicycles. I risk sounding like the guy on Forest Gump describing the many varieties of prepared shrimp.
While standing patiently in a gentle rain waiting for the Uber driver to arrive and admiring the bicycle drama on the streets, for a split moment I went back to my childhood days on Elm Street riding my little orange bicycle with the wire basket. I rode it all over the neighborhood. It was my primary means of transportation to and from my best friend, Tommy Sena’s house. It was the source of income for my first paying job at about six years old. I delivered papers to customers around my block every morning at about 5:30 am. I had 12 customers and made $3 a month. My Dad was the local distributor, so all of the boys would gather early in the morning and roll papers and stuff them into their paper bags on the handlebars of their bicycles and head out on their routes. I have been an early riser my whole life and I attribute this early childhood career to that habit. Anyway, I digress.
Securing a 24 hour ticket and traveling around the city on the tram was a moving experience. Like most large cities, you can see about anything on public transportation, the most challenging to me is the close proxemics that inevitable occur. A few of my pics were taken from a moving tram, so that is my excuse along with my faltering eye sight for any blur you may notice.
Can you imagine trying to figure out where you parked your bicycle? Watching families going from point A to point B on one bicycle, or seeing business men and women in business attire, carrying an umbrellas as they cycle to work…you realize that really you can do about anything or go about anywhere on a bicycle in Amsterdam. Of course, walking is also an option exercised by many. You don’t have to walk very far in Amsterdam before you are in the presence of a museum of some sort.
The many museums of Amsterdam are an abundant source of moving experiences. Decisions must be made when it comes to visiting museums in Amsterdam. There are museums for just about anything. To risk once again of sounding like the shrimp kabob guy on Forest Gump, there is a tulip museum, a torture museum, a red light secrets museum, a piano museum, a boathouse museum, a body works museum, a National Holocaust museum, a street art museum, a costume museum, a cobra museum, a hash, marijuana and hemp museum, a museum of canals, a museum of diamonds, a Heineken museum, a museum of bags and purses, even a moco museum (modern contemporary museum for those of my friends thinking nasally) just to name a few. For me, on a short weekend visit, there were only two museums on my agenda…the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh museum.
I’ve always found the Anne Frank story to be a moving experience, very inspiring. It’s a story of hope, despair, survival, loss, family, friends, and history and so much more. Walking through the building they called home while in hiding for two years was indeed moving. Standing in the tiny rooms where they slept, ate, hoped and despaired was an experience I won’t soon forget. Walking on the same floors, admiring the same magazine and paper clippings they admired, studying the patterns in the oak steps they climbed, seeing her words in her own handwriting, Wow, just wow! To think that she and her family lived there for two years in silence and confinement…This is a museum I highly recommend you see if you are in the area.
The Van Gogh museum was a moving experience beyond anything I ever expected. When I think of the word, genius, I think Vincent Van Gogh will be the first image to come to mind. His art has so much depth and emotion. His connection with the common people and his torment…all there to see and experience in his art. He was a good example of someone walking that fine line between genius and psychopathology. Coincidentally, the morning after I returned to my place, I sat down to have a cup of coffee and over the cafe’s sound system, I heard the song, Vincent by Don McLean, putting a nice bow on the package that was Amsterdam.
Amsterdam, with its web of canals, its museums, and varied modes of transportation is a moving city. Visiting this fine city in late fall/early winter, there were many scenes of gray and blue, the only thing missing was a starry, starry night. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and don’t be afraid to be moved…
Until next time…