Er schuilde een addertje onder het gras

You probably wish you had seen the fine print on the package.

The hazard warnings were clearly indicated, in big letters. Annoyance awaits a particular human trait, or so you’d heard. Bullying, then discrimination, the occasional gratuitous violence, inequality before the law, administrative hassles, and whatnot. You heard the scares, you’ve seen the fears, you learned the screams. Well equipped you were, whereby you could dodge those bullets.

Then you walk the walk. One foot in front of the other, and then again. You figure out your independence, your friendships. You learn how to balance a budget and pay your taxes. You see to an income stream, manage work expectations, widen your abilities and deepen your expertise. You learn how to cook healthy, fix up your house, how to manage cleaning up as a routine instead of a chore. You keep your agenda busy, so there’s social life, there’s shared entertainment, the occasional physical effort to stay in shape. You can listen to your body and sort out “wants” from “needs.” You know how to balance the time for yourself, the time to meditate, the time to be thankful. You avoid distractions or turn them into learning opportunities. You see others as equals, you can listen, you are able to fully acknowledge their individuality and their motivations.

You know quite consciously that your condition is a priceless luxury that money can’t buy, not shared by most, and your sense of achievement puts you at peace with your own mortality.


There’s that improbable occasional moment of frustration. On the odd week, or month, or year, your hormones and sympathetic system will fail you once and turn your well-defended peace into a turmoil of uncertainty. An element of disruption comes, unexpected, its effect on you comes as a surprise, disturbs your balance. Joy, fear and dedication collapse in an intricate and fascinating pattern; you want more of it, and you know you deserve more. You’ve seen it occur to your friends, you’ve seen it unfold for them and develop into majestic and fulfilling enterprises, and you know you can “make it work” just as well as they do.

But you can’t. The fine print which you did not read says that there will a half mirror between you and the light that you’re drawn to. Your own light will be invisible from the other side. It will bear no colors, no intensity, and it especially will not impart the pattern that you experience yourself. The fine print says you will shine and yet will not be seen, you will bounce against that invisible wall, you will not reach nor be reached. Although nine out of ten other people have no wall nine out of ten times, you’re that “special” tenth person. And your friends will not understand; for most of them do not share your trait and never have seen nor faced the wall. They will bear no empathy, for the obstacle is merely abstract to them.

The fine print says that whenever it matters to be human, to be able to experience feelings, you will be frustrated. Most of the time, and without help. And you will discover that next to death and taxes, that is the third thing that you will never change and always must expect.