Wednesdays are tough in my schedule this semester. They are demanding both mentally and physically. I am sure that I would manage following three different courses with little breaks in between in one day just fine, but- providing they were all on one campus.
This is how it goes: I first have to go from my part of town (called Berchem) to the city centre, where the city campus is located. That is a bike ride of about 20 minutes. After the first class is completed there, I then need to bike to the second one, biking back the same way, passing by my house, and continuing in that other direction for another decent portion of the road. In total, it takes me about 45 minutes to get from campus A to campus B.
Then, finally, to get to the third class, I go the whole way back to the city campus. I attend the class and ride home. Around 6 hours of classes and more than two hours on the bike. Not bad for a single day, once in a week?
Today was one of those Wednesday days. And today I decided to take a shorter way from home to to this other campus (Drie Eiken). I was on a look-out a few days ago, biking somewhere nearer home, trying to orient myself and figure out which way I usaully take to Drie Eiken, and which way I could perhaps take instead, in order to make my pilgrimage to the course "Bio-ethics" a little less sacrifical. And I thought I found one.
After the first lecture, I stopped at home to get some stuff. Then I proudly went on the new way to Drie Eiken. In the last few days the Spring sort of came to Antwerp, so it was quite enjoyable to bike. I started thinking that this having to bike today was not that bad, since it was an excuse for me to spend some time outside, working on my thesis all day otherwise.
I kept going for some time, and then, when I saw no sign pointing to the campus, I asked an older lady on a bike, who was in front of me, if she knows the way. (I asked her by approaching her from behind, and so when we were moving parallely on bikes, which I found kind of cool). She gave it a thought, while just slowing down, but being still in motion, and then said that it should be to the right, somewhere further down the road. I followed her advise and biked on.
I came up to the crossroad, where I was supposed to turn right, and I did. I knew I was already in the suburbs of the city (called Mortsel), and now I was apparantly going (judging by the signs) to 'Edegem'. I knew I was kind of going the right direction, but I also noticed that the campus is not exactly where I thought of it to be.
Eventually I reached Edegem, and stopped there to ask for directions again. This time it was a younger woman sitting next to her baby car. She smilled and said there is still a long way to go, but that I should just follow the road. Another 15 minutes, she said. I thanked her, and with my student bag tied to the back of the bike, I continued peddaling, just around the corner entering the centre of Edegem. It was really neat and cute: orderly road with a nice bike path, a church, and nice older houses. That was my view to the left side. To the right I could see a row of trees, leading to some kind old castle/mansion. And then... The field.
I was out of the city, slowly leaving even the village of Edegem behind. I looked back to cast a one last look at the cosy small centre, and then, on both sides, there were only the fields...
I felt really happy, riding unexpectedly throught this piece of Belgian countryside. I was reminded of my experience of riding trains here, going to the Netherlands, or Bruges, or Gent. I have seen something similar through the window then. But now it was different. I was outside. I was exposed to the air and I could see everything around me. Flat fields, like in my Vojvodina, but still with unique set of colors, with a unique mood, reserved for Belgian and Dutch fields. And the Sun, the precious light, making everything so alive, after the long winter.
I knew by then that I definitely didn't take the shorter way to the campus Drie Eiken. But I also knew that I was so delighted to have miscalculated the shorter way... and found a richer one instead. It was not more efficient, but it was more poetic. And it happened to me. I myself didn't look for it, didn't provoke it. It is, as wise man says, precisely that way that the best things in life occur to one.
Soon I arrived at the campus. And I made it just in time.
During the lecture my emotional background was the impression of what I had experienced. The beauty and vastness I saw on my "shortest possible way".
I took the old efficient way back to the city centre and came home after the third lecture was over. I am pretty exhausted now, after all that biking and lecture-attending today.
But the fact that I managed to write all this at the end of it bears a witness to the inspiration I got, when today I was lost.
Lost in the beauty.