Sometimes when you visit a place, you gain your own insight. You learn about the place things that only you know, because your experiences have been peculiar. In other cases, you don't gain much from it. You make a name into a place, but your understanding of it is not particular. This is of course all the more true for the well-worn places.
By the corner of Utrechtestraat and Prinsengracht, in Amsterdam's Grachtengordel, sitting in the children's playground that covers the space that was once a market, the lights coming on and dusk smothering the street, I wondered how many had seen the same scene playing out before me. Not the precise scene, I thought, because that woman on her bike with her child in the basket had not been in precisely the same place the night before or any other night, and that child, pushing one smaller from the slide, he might never have visited this playground like me, might be a stranger too. It strikes me that I could look at the same experience in two ways: either that I am doing the same as others, walking the same path, or that I am having a distinct experience, that the difference in the details is what counts.
What does that say to me? Only that our understanding of life should never be thought clearcut, that there are often different ways of looking at things, even for ourselves. Surrendering the possibilities of vision we have for dogmatism, while it does increase our sense of security, seems to me to diminish the richness of our lives just a little.
Zenella, meanwhile, played on the swings. It's all new to her.