Anchors

“Alleen Positive berichten waar je blij.

If you look for the positive, you'll make yourself happy 

Loosely speaking I’ve learned that finding anchors has to do with positive thinking. It is linked to anchors as a visual metaphor for several reasons. I have learned that if you look for anchors, you will find them no matter how far you are from the sea. You’ll see the chains that lift or hold them, and more importantly you’ll see anchors when you are simply looking out at the world.

My undergraduate college

Hope College, my undergraduate school has an anchor for a logo.  Hope College was founded in 1861, and is linked to the Reformed Church of America, a protestant church.  It is located in Holland, Michigan forever clarifying the country of origin to which many of its early immigrants were linked. The sea-going nature of the town’s residents and also students of the college is echoed in the anchor. The image itself is meant to convey hope.

 Dutch people have forever been linked inextricably to the sea and to anchors.  They live on the edge of the sea, and much of their land has even been reclaimed from it.  As such they have been victims of storms, and fight a never-ending battle with it.  They have storm responsive dikes and dams.

Naturally, if you go to sea, you should have a good anchor along. Common sense. Ships carry them for the times they’re not able to be moored at a dock. To function they need to be thrown out, a sort of irony, but let us put that aside.

As a detour in this narrative, is the circumstance o f how I re-encountered the subject and thought about the image of anchors. For my seventieth birthday I hiked the Camino Santiago, which is walked by thousands of people for all sorts of reasons.  People walk it mostly from Europe, and I found myself walking along with a Dutchman with a slightly French name.  Ton Marchand.

Ton and I saying goodbye after a few days walking together. He walked the Camino in stages, during succeeding years.

  He told me as we got to talking while walking of his attitude towards anchors.  He found them all over the world, not always at sea, but when he was looking out for them he saw them.  As decoration in a garden, as something surrounding an advertisement for cigarettes, as something holding up a mail box, as a knocker on a door. And certainly while walking with him I began to see what he meant.  They do appear almost by magic, if you look for them.  (Works for him, maybe especially, because he is an ex-Dutch Navy deepwater diver.)  That aside, they are used often as a decorative touch. If you look carefully at this picture you’ll see he’s wearing a bracelet made of small anchor tiles.

He also explained that….just looking for them, in the old sense of “keeping an eye peeled” for them, was a way he’d found of looking for  positive images in life.  Not in any preachy way, but just seeing the positive when perceiving the world. .  I enjoyed the core of this idea, and found it proved time after time while travelling along land-locked paths in Spain as well as along the sea.  I thought him to be a positive soul, and latched on to his idea long after walking with him.

There’s a Dutch facebook group (well there’s a facebook group for everything isn’t there?) but this one is named: “Alleen Positive berichten waar je blij.”  I found it, when I returned to the states from my Camino hike.   It roughly translates as: “If you look for positive things, you’ll make yourself happy”……Remember this is a rough translation.  It also is summed up by the phrase: “Eenlichje poor Callie allemaal Blijj gezond en krachtig.  En vooral lief.” , which means: “I hope you are healthy, strong, and above all joyful.”  It is somewhat akin to the “Power of Positive Thinking,” a common type of popular self-help philosophy. This idea though leans less towards the aforementioned Norman Vincent Peale’s theology and more towards a positive psychology. My distinction is that negative or scientific thinking is equally necessary, not just “wishing the negative away.” Peale’s sermons and books have been largely disputed and debunked. The positive attitude is not meant to be “pollyannaish,” nor a substitute for healthy critical thinking, but rather in its own way can be an antidote to constant criticism.

Not wishing to fall prey to being overly polemic nor preachy in this space ….….but the anchor to me represents…exactly what this phrase can translate to mean:   Be healthy, be strong, and above all be sweet……My wish and for myself, and for us all.  

This note to remind us that we should keep our eyes out for anchors.


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