Amsterdam is unique. The city has as many canals as roads. More bikes than cars. Prostitution and marijuana are both legal and practiced in public. People from all over the world line up for blocks to walk through a little house where a Jewish girl wrote one of history’s greatest pieces of literature as she hid from the Germans during World War 2. The city has 1753 bridges and residents from 187 countries. We visited Amsterdam on a weekend and a very nice one at that. So I suspect the streets and canals and stores were more crowded than normal. And that was just fine.
Van Gogh Museum
I didn’t know much about Van Gogh before visiting the museum. I knew he was Dutch. I knew he was an impressionist. I knew he liked to paint pictures of himself. And I knew he cut off his ear.
He reminds me so much of Kierkegaard. They both dealt with depression. The were both prophetic in their writing / painting. Both men completed their entire life’s work in just over a decade. The both died at a very young age. They are both INFPs. Both were unsuccessful preachers who thankfully discovered their true calling in life. The both predicted, with uncanny accuracy, how culture was going to be shaped and formed in the future. They are both appreciated more centuries later than they were during their lives. To see his art in person was astonishing. It was amazing to see the brush strokes and the colors.
I didn’t know he was such a prolific writer. Many of his writings were describing his paintings and also letters to his brother. Here is some of his best:
- It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.
- If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.
- Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.
- The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
- I try more and more to be myself, caring relatively little whether people approve or disapprove.
- Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
We have been trying to eat food native to each country at each of our stop. We have the rest of our lives to eat American food. Because Amsterdam is so international and the the Netherlands isn’t known for its cuisine (when is the last time you have been to a Dutch restaurant?), this place was a little difficult to track down. But a local helped me out. We had stamppot. One plate had meatballs and the other had sausage. It was mixture of mashed potatoes, squash, and carrots. It was a solid meal. Probably suited better for a cooler day, but fun to eat. Here is a recipe.
Amsterdam has 1753 bridges. Bridges connect unconnected people. They allow people to explore. They unite what is divided. Amsterdam is a city of bridges. Both physically and metaphorically. They welcome and embrace people throughout the world. People of various beliefs and backgrounds and languages seemed to have figured out how to live in harmony even through they don’t agree on everything. I’m guessing that is what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like. Jesus was more inclusive than exclusive. He made time for prostitutes, foreigners, hurting people, and children. He spoke truth and was Truth — but he constantly offered grace as well. I wouldn’t live in Amsterdam for various reasons. But I greatly admire the tolerance and diversity of its people.
Six Thousand More Words
Amsterdam is a beautiful city. Here are six of my favorite photos. If you want to see more visit my Facebook page.