Magic or vague shit


‘Do you feel an difference?’ Marco van Gorp looks me in the eyes.

‘Yes, it feels different. Especially in my left leg. Heavier. Like I am standing firmer on the ground’, I feel more, but it is hard to put into words ‘Exactly’, he grins showing his white teeth and his eyes gleam, ‘you stand a lot more straight up’.Marco holds his right fist forward. Fist bump. The treatment table on my right is like any physiotherapist has. But in this room the table stands out. The high ceiling, art on the wall, a leather sofa and a chesterfield chair. You imagine yourself in a club rather than a treatment room. What Marco does is no ordinary treatment. It’s magic. Or vague.

‘Would you like to write down how you experience these treatments?’ Marco asked me after the third session. ‘I don’t know if I can do that. A lot happens after the sessions, but I have no idea if I can put that into words.’ Just see, if you can do it, it would be good, if not, then don’t worry.’

It is hard to say no to these happy eyes of Marco. In his eyes there is a permanent twinkle of a mischievous boy that just stole an apple from the farmer an around his mouth there is constant hint of a smile like you see with the Dalai Lama. It has been 30 (?) years that he took over the practice from Ted Troost, the most famous haptonome in The Netherlands who treated Marco van Basten among others. Although haptonome doesn’t cover it. Because Ted combined haptonomy, physiotherapy, mediation, vague shit, heart for the patient an intuition. As Marco van Basten writes in his biography:

Ted sighed and paused as he went through the rest of my body, routinely but sensitive, the way I had gotten to know his hands. But something told me that his thoughts were not quite there, as if he felt what was really going on. After twenty minutes he suddenly said, ‘We are going to the seaside tomorrow morning. When the tide is in. We are going to walk in the sea, you and me. That is what we must do.’

After the walk in the sea, van Basten’s ankle feels a lot better. We as readers do not find out why Ted wanted to walk in the icy surf, only that after years of suffering and misery, van Basten felt through such a simple walk that the pain eased a bit, we get that. It is the same with Marco van Gorp’s treatments. I have no idea why he sometimes gently rubs my back ant the next moment squeezes my thigh, causing tears to spring in my eyes. Or why he sometimes gives me a foot massage and the next moment squeezes my jaw out of my face. What he does and why remains a mystery, but it feels very good. Afterwards. I feel lighter and heavier at the same time, in special way. And more confident and joyful. I came for the first time six months ago, through a friend. ‘Still having problems with your back?’ Martin takes a sip from his water bottle. The Amstel on the left is beautiful. Two rowers in shorts shirts row with us, we meander along the river to Ouderkerk a/d Amstel. ‘Yes, that is why I cycle a little less. After a long bike ride, I have a stiff back and neck for days’.

‘You know that I went to see someone when I was had pains and aches for a while?’ ‘Yes, when your lovely daughter only slept during the day and you worked hard without sleep? That guy where you didn’t have to talk, but still massaged the stress out of your body and kneaded the sun back into your head?’ ‘Exactly. I think you should go there too, I grant you that.’ ‘What do you mean?’ Martin brakes in front of a car from the right, I take two quick kicks and pass in front of the car. After the crossroads, I pause for a moment.

‘I have a feeling that it will be good for you to visit him. I will give you his number, just tell him that I am your reference. He is very busy, hopefully he has an opening for you’. Martin has never given advice in 35 years of friendship. Cycling tours are a guarantee for beautiful stories from the old days and entertaining, fresh anecdotes about work, sports, wife and children. Self-mockery and jokes are better for him than self-pity and asking for help. Sometimes we do not see each other for years, sometime we go out every week for a cycle and catch up. When Martin texted the number of his practitioner (Koen, this is the most sympathetic Rotterdammer since Jules Deelder), I immediately called. Three weeks later I had a first appointment. ‘What brings you here?’ asked Marco in Bloemendaal. ‘When I run, I regularly have problems with my left calf and when I cycle I have problems with my back and my neck,’ I grab my neck for a moment. ‘Tell me about yourself first.’ I talked about my work, sitting at a computer and my interest in breathing and meditation. And I talked about my sad divorce and my lovely son who lives with me one week and with my ex-wife the next. ‘Lie down.’

Marco rubs, squeezes, massages, pushes, pulls, kneads, strokes, tapes, feels, says nothing, breathes and pokes. After 45 minutes I feel reborn. ‘When you get into the car and go home, I recommend that you sit for a minute first. Feel the space you occupy and just sit there for a minute.’ After the fist bump, I walk out of the grand building. The gravel crunches under my feet and I walk to my car. Light and cheerful. In the car I do what Marco advised me to do. I put the key in the ignition, but I don’t start the car yet. Just sit for a while. Feel the space. It sounds a bit vague, but in the car I suddenly feel the presence of my ex-mother-in-law. First this car was hers. And I feel the presence of my ex and I think about the holidays to France that we had with this car. Then the car fills with my energy, not to push the energy of my ex-wife and ex-mother-in-law out, but to take the space with my own energy. A tear stings in my eye and falls down my cheek onto the car seat. I feel grateful and energized.

Thank you Marco.

See you next month.