Archive for category: Musings

The Calm after the Storm

27 Nov
November 27, 2011


We live in a country with few large scale natural disasters. No typhoons or cyclones,  no  volcano eruptions threatening to wipe out entire cities, no earthquakes to speak of (in front of Californians, Japanese or others living on top of faults between constantly shifting tectonic plates) and no heath waves in the real, southerly sense of the world.  
This does not mean that we have not had our share of landslides, avalanches, floods, storms and other challenges. People here have traditionally had, and many still have, to fight their own battles against Mother Nature, in order to make a living in this, it sometimes seems, godforsaken periphery of civilization.  Population being scarce in the most challenged or accident prone areas, though, reduces the extent of material damage and human casualties, compared to similar events in other parts of the world.
Moreover we have over the generations learned and had the possibility to build houses and prepare ourselves to literally weather out many a storm. So when “Berit”, a hurricane in places “providing” winds of 35 m/s and waves up to 36 meters high, just paid us a visit, the damage was huge, but not qualifying as a national disaster.
In this case we even had a warning in form of weather forecasts; we had time to brace ourselves, bolt the doors and batten down the hatches, so to speak.
The most scary storms are usually the ones that strike without warning. Like the moody alpine winds, out of the blue sweeping down from the mountains,  onto the unsuspecting blue calm of the Tuner See, in which the peaks themselves only seconds before reflected their majestic selves. Capsizing boats, throwing people overboard.
But even expected bad times, weather- or otherwise, may deal us serious blows…

… to read more go to the link below

http://www.evernote.com/shard/s92/sh/cf62e281-62a7-457e-8274-6de433a56875/3421c3bef83973eb7489e86b03ec7036

Off guard

06 Nov
November 6, 2011
Sometimes, in the middle of going about what you thought was  your business, your life…,  you are caught unawares, by surprise… by events, by people, by  plain old destiny, or, if it turns out to be a positive thing, by what I like to look upon as synchronisms.

In rare cases these occurrences may be life changing, depending on what they are, on whom you are, and how you react.

More often than not, though, they may initially lift you off your feet and rattle you, as if you were a rag doll, without the ability to act or react. But once you have caught your breath, realigned your tie (if you’re a man, something of your choice if you’re a woman), brushed your hair (if you have some) into place and got your heart and head around them, so to speak, you can move on, shaken and stirred. Sometimes richer, sometimes still wide eyed and surprised, but always all the more wiser.

The most baffling phenomena are often related to people. If they are strangers, and you have no inkling as to their innate characteristics, the shock may be great. But the impact on you, your feelings and your life, are usually neither great nor lasting, due to their peripheral relation and importance to you.

If, on the other hand, the person in question is someone you thought you knew, had more or less figured out, mapped and categorized, the aftershocks of the quake, the aftermaths of the revelations, are  more disturbing, more influencal.

Frequently, it turns out, there is more to a person than meets the eye; little by little, or sometimes quite suddenly, you realize there is much more “under the skin” of that human being than you had ever imagined.

You feel taken off guard, by words or actions, but even more so by the reverberation they evoke within you, of feelings and thoughts, either long forgotten or suppressed, or never really fully experienced. Welcome or unwanted, but indisputably a revelation and an awakening.  

After such an experience, one may wish to go back to former ignorance, previous uncorrupted innocence of not knowing, not experiencing, not, in some case, indulging. It is all irrefutable. But how we choose to go on, when it comes to both feelings and dealings is not.

Sometimes the most unexpected, intense and mind unsettling experiences may lead to added insight, tolerance, closeness, alertness, motivation. Causing you to treasure and pursue new or awakened aspects of your life, parallel with an increased appreciation of what you already have. Optimally, if wisely contemplated and administered, this will enhance not only your own quality and scope of life, but also that of people around you.

A way with words

01 Nov
November 1, 2011
«Dysfunctional!», the therapist said, as I lay on the couch. He continued: “Your Scaleni is dysfunctional, the same is Elevator Scapula, Trapezius…” I stopped him short and said: “my muscles are not dysfunctional, they are just a little bit “off”! “Yea, yea”, he said, not quite catching the gist of what I was saying, we’d had this conversation before. Of course, having come there in the first place, I hadn’t been feeling on top of the world, but his choice of words made me feel like a car wreck ready for scrapping.
This is not an unknown phenomenon. Send people into a room, talk to them about old age and they will walk more slowly out of the room than they did, coming in. Choose the right words in talking to a patient, and the healing effect may manifold exceed that of medicines and treatment. Both these examples are backed by research, and the importance and impact of such findings are slowly manifesting themselves in people’s minds.
We have all registered how words, given or received, affect  our relationships and encounters with our fellow beings.  A business deal may go through or fail, depending on which words we use.  An enemy may become a friend, a friend an opponent, due to the right or wrong choice of words.

In Norway we don’t have a great tradition for verbally backing each other, we are supposed to be modest, “realistic” and preferably a little pessimistic, just to be on the safe side…. Good tidings should come as a surprise, not something wished for or believed in, and praise and commendatory words are often left for the memorial service…

We tend to forget that we are gregarious animals, depending on one another, needing to make each other strong. A kind word, a hint that someone believes in you, in what you can accomplish, and treasures you, for being you, matters…the world, no less.
Personally, I am a far cry from graduating from The School of Beneficial Words, but like most others, I am aware of most of the basic theory. But some seem to have skipped even the precursory classes:
Rosenborg, our local soccer team just lost a game, quite seriously so. And the supporter club, in so many (badly chosen) words, beat the daylight out of one of the season’s best players, because he didn’t deliver up to par on this particular occasion. What a way to go!
And talking about beating: as for the afore mentioned therapist… at the end of the session I was feeling lousy and ready to aim a good kick at his behind, just a few facts prevented me from doing so: 1. I was at the time  literally nailed down with umpteen acupuncture needles, 2. He is a really nice, well meaning and, excepting his choice of words, extremely proficient guy, and 3. He is a champion within a sport through which he has acquired muscles you don’t want to be on bad terms with.
So instead, I wished him a pleasant weekend, and spent the rest of the day using a variety of mental techniques that I have picked up over the years, …and some good red wine in the company of energy giving friends, to get me back on my, in spite of a few minor flaws, very functional track again.

India inspiration

09 Oct
October 9, 2011

It suddenly dawned on me, that what inspired me to write my previous blog was listening to beautiful music on an elaborate and partly self built “music machine” at a friend’s house last night. Closing my eyes, floating on the musical clouds, scenes of the movie Aakarshan that I had watched earlier in the day, came back to me. As did previous talks, discussions with and comments by other people on India.

The movie reminded me of what life, history, books, fact and fiction, have been telling me all my life: There have always been and will be people in the world, and many at that, who against all odds and various predicaments, stand out and do good. People whose integrity compels them to do the right thing, not for themselves, but for people around them, their local society, their country and sometimes the whole world.

Their acts and words may impose huge changes, the ripples of their deeds extend to faraway corners, and the inspiration of their actions and ideas reach to the end of the world.

The Bolliwood movie, a genre with which I am highly unfamiliar, took me by surprise with the occasional sudden bursts of energetic singing and dancing in the midst of a dead serious film sequence, together with scenes showing theatrically stone faced characters, enforced by dramatic music, seemingly lasting for minutes at a time. But, easily moved as I am, I was touched by the story and the integrity and uncorruptibility of one of the main characters and the inner struggle, but eventual right conclusion or choice of several of the others.

We should never underestimate the power of good, of love and of hope, all moving the world forward in the only sustainable way. Believing in and striving to live and breathe these properties is our only option, both as individuals and world citizens.

India is a land filled with dualisms; good – evil, poverty – wealth, hope-hopelessness, corruption-idealism, greed-generosity, backwardness-foresight, and pluralisms; past-present-future, different religions, various regions, the many layered cast system, to mention a few.

There may be no place on earth where the discrepancies are greater, the dualisms more distinct, more visible, more resilient; parallel worlds within the boarders of one country.

Still, people who have spent time in India seem apt to fall in love with aspects of the country, be it people, culture, religion, history, landscape. Qualities and values of India clearly have something in their nature that appeal to us, features that draw us in, ways of living that we have forgotten or have never known. 

Bearing that in mind, we may trust that some of these innately virtuous qualities are what India and we may build on, to shape the future and to make economical growth benefit Indians from all walks of life, and in the process teaching ourselves a lesson or two about a better and mindful way to live our own hectic lives.
                      

Do you speak Hindi?

09 Oct
October 9, 2011
”Do you speak Hindi?”, the guy next to me in the cinema smilingly asked, with the more often than not impeccable English Indians speak, albeit with a charming, but distinct accent. Having decided to see the movie Aarakshan on the grounds of hopefully learning a tad more about the to me incongruent piece of geography called India, my heart fell a little. No, I do not speak Hindi, I must admit I had counted on English sub-titles…, which the film, to my great relief, actually turned out to provide.

My knowledge of India is very limited, but my curiosity about this historically and culturally rich and immensely diverse country is unsaturable. Authors like Vikas Swarup, Vikram Seth, Gregory David Roberts, Tobjørn Færøvik, in addition to accounts by Mark Tully (BBC) and Joar Hoel Larsen (NRK) and other journalists, have fuelled my interest, as have talks with people who have travelled, done business or in other ways spent time in the country. 

Some focus on the opportunities, some on the challenges. India is lacking in neither. Nor is the world lacking in facts and statistics on the country, information that sometimes leave me optimistic about its future, sometimes pessimistic, but always baffled!

But the devil can cite scripture, and statistics, for his own purpose; the picture can be turned this way and that, depending on what we choose to focus on: Castisism, illiteracy, corruption, gross inequalities in terms of living conditions, education, job opportunities, health care, gender etc. etc. on the one side, and economic growth, “reservation” (securing “backward classes” places within educational institutions and GOs) and further state and province welfare schemes, subsidies, other programs etc. on the other.

When trying to figure out India and its future, juggling a whole lot of balls at the same time is necessary. Keeping the challenges in mind, one should welcome, encourage, explore and exploit the opportunities for improvement. India’s faith is not separate from ours, economically nor ethically.

And concerning books, articles, films, research… you come across, or your own experiences on the subject, please keep me posted:-)

Interesting links: 

Upset

14 Sep
September 14, 2011
Do you count yourself among those people who very rarely get upset, who are not easily moved or rocked? Well stop reading, and go play with the other robots!
Even though, as mentioned in a previous blog, I don’t think I’ll ever be fully “grown up” (I don’t drink coffee, I don’t have all, if any, answers to the big questions in life, I am easily moved, touched, rocked etc. etc.), I am old enough to take responsibility for my own feelings. No matter what other people have said or done, I should be master of my own emotions. But this is not always easy!
Today I am upset, a little angry, but mostly upset.
When I find myself in that situation I make use of a combination of several strategies. Brooding is fortunately not an inherent quality of mine, nor is passivity. Action is.
My first course of action is trying to shift focus, from me, myself, I, to the world outside me, and in the process touch bases with what makes me “tick”.
So I started the day bytexting some people, just to tell them that I care. Just doing that made me feel better; I had found a small piece of purpose to hold on to. Positive response (from those who were not too shocked:-) did of course not diminish the effect:-) Then I sent a few mails and made a call I’d be meaning to make for a long time.
But peace of mind was not restored that easily, so I endeavoured on the next measure on my list, tidying up. The house is never as clean and orderly as after an anger, upset- or frustration spell of mine. The kids’ and spouse’s belongings cluttering the common living areas are promptly collected and literally thrown into the rooms in which they belong, and the doors are not locked, but slammed shut. Nice! Laundry is quickly disposed of, so is garbage and other objects which happen to be in my way, and that should have been “dealt” with by other occupants of the house ages ago. The Salvation Army usually benefits greatly from these occasions. If later prompted as to these things’ whereabouts, I usually feign ignorance (silently giving my self absolution, claiming Non compos mentis, Of unsound mind at the time of the crime..).
Next I became more physical. That always makes me feel better, both about myself and other people. On the agenda was swimming. In the pool with me was only one other person, a what seemed to be a pretty proficient swimmer, and that was perfect; my competition instinct clicked in, and I set off to overtake him. The other guy never knew what hit him, how could he know what all the fuss was about:-), but it got my adrenalin racing, in turn giving me a nice dose of much needed endorphins.
A nice, warm shower added to the balancing effect, and I went about more practical business, preparing for a two days’ biking trip with a friend the coming weekend. When upset and a little angry, I can manage anything, even technicalities that usually leave me baffled. And if I need help, I seek it, and things get fixed! So there!
And speaking about friends: When the going gets, if not tough seen in a bigger perspective, but at least frustrating, good friends come in handy. You don’t necessarily need to tell them about your upset, just being with them makes you feel better.  Fortunately, conveniently prescheduled, I have a dinner appointment with several good friends this evening, so that should be good.
But peace is not yet restored, so right now I am down to one of my last strategies, writing, a process that enables me to vent my feelings and helps me put everything into perspective.
My upset barometer is still indicating High Pressure, but, I think, pointing towards calmer weather. Low pressure, or as it is also called in meteorology, “depression”, is not what I am looking for, in either of the word’s connotations:-), because that’s not who I am, but some reduction in voltage would not be a bad thing.
What do you do, to cope with your upsets? I am wide open to suggestions:-) Have a good day, maybe not without upsets, but with strategies to deal with them…

Upset

11 Sep
September 11, 2011
Conversations, heart to heart, can make wonders
Shared thoughts; an insight sought and found
You don’t have to act upon your dreams, thoughts and desires
But you must reflect upon your musings
If you stop thinking, talking,
You’ll start sinking, balking
Till existing  becomes an excuse
 For living! 

Election Time

03 Sep
September 3, 2011
Are you an abstainer? Er du en sofavelger?
 
Get off the coach!
Sorry, English speaking friends. The video below may be difficult to understand for non-Scandinavians…, but the message is this:
Whenever there is an election, in your country, your state, your municipality: VOTE! Or forever hold your tongue…
Be sure to watch the video to the very end. The name of the political party that made it, is not important, the message is.
The video was “brought to us” by a quality “server”/”sharer” of good “stuff” in Denmark.
Godt valg!

Angels?

31 Aug
August 31, 2011
Fortunately, I not only have generous people in my life (see yesterday’s blog), but also people who keep me in check when I, occasionally:-), go a little overboard…
…may be what I was talking about yesterday was angels. And not many people feel they can live up to that standard. (If they do, they should probably have their head examined!) Because, let’s face it, is there really such a phenomena as altruism? A mindset in which one only thinks beautiful, pure and selfless thoughts, always having other people’s happiness in mind? Is the wish for “peace and goodwill to all” an intrinsic, indelible part of humans? I don’t know. The jury is still out, and has been for centuries (poor chaps). God only knows the motives one has for doing and saying the things we do. And God only (thank goodness) knows what goes on in people’s minds.
Me for one, often have problems figuring out what goes on in my own head, so just beginning to guess into the mind of others is daring and risky business!
 But the point is this, and this is irrefutable (I hope!): No matter what thoughts we may have in our heads, it is what eventually comes out  that matters to other people. The thoughts are there. We fight them and surrender, invite them and corrupt them, split them and grind them, crunch them and mix them, blend them and kneed them, and then, if you are dealing with generous people, what comes out, in deed, speech or writing is this:
A beautiful gift, a delightful little package, stuffed with what we need at that precise moment: support, courage, comfort, affection, compassion, love, encouragement, challenges, constructive criticism, you need it, you name it!
And that is what being a generous person is about. Which is good in many respects, because, not being angels, it gives people some slack; Failing and stumbling are parts of being human, even the generous ones among us:-)

Generosity

30 Aug
August 30, 2011

Generosity

One of the traits of character I appreciate most in others is generosity. Some people have an amazing ability to support and lift you. They meet your thoughts and ideas with an open mind, and when criticise do it constructively, affectionately and with respect.
They spur you on, challenge you to step out of your comfort zone to reach goals, both the ones that you knew you had, and ones you were not, until that moment, aware of.
They stay with you, even when you’re not on top of the world, and are rooting for you and your successes, when they themselves might be down in a dump. That is a hard thing to do, but for people who have a truly generous mind, this comes naturally.
These people are not motivated by personal winnings, rewards, in this world or the next. They don’t envy you your good times, winnings, successes, they enjoy them along with you, which makes them (the good things in life) even more precious
They live and breath this generosity, regardless of what relationship they have to you in the first place. You may have them in your immediate “surroundings”, but may also meet them at the other end of a telephone ”line” or in a grocery store, way out of your “neighbourhood”.
I am extremely fortunate to have several such people in my life. With all my heart I wish for you that you have too. However much I strive, I will never reach as high on the generosity scale as these people, but that shouldn’t prevent me from trying, even though I often fail.
This came to me while I was out walking today. Walking clears my mind and makes me realize many things I don’t see sitting down. But although a thought may be new to me, few thoughts are new under the sun; While I was writing this, the song You Raise Me Up, suddenly, but not surprisingly, came to my mind.
If the song is not about generosity, probably along with a heavy dash of love and affection:-), I don’t know what is.
Go ahead and listen, to this or any other recording. I know I just did:-)
Sung by Josh Groban, Westlife and many others, but written by Secret Garden’s Rolf Løvland (melody) and Irish songwriter Brendan Graham (lyrics)