Just another girl

I recently stumbled upon a book named “The Girl on the Train”, while browsing the bookstore for birthday presents, i.e. Stephen King (all hail to the King) books for a friend. It was on sale, not very cheap, but still on sale, and even though I rarely buy new books, as I prefer second-hand, I bought this one for myself, adding it to the basket of King volumes. It was a strange thing for me to do for so many reasons: As mentioned, I rarely buy new books, and I rarely buy books I haven’t somehow been recommended through trustworthy sources, and even more, I rarely, as in never, buy books from the crime section. But there was something about this one. I had come across the title so many times in the past months. I had seen it mentioned over and over while browsing literary blogs, articles, news, etc. And it had caught my attention enough now to be put in my basket.

Luckily for this book, I was on my own in town, and I had some time to kill, which meant I was having lunch on my own before travelling home by bus. Lunch + bus ride means a lot of time for a new book, and I am a fast reader. Before I reached my house, I was almost half through the volume. And I was not very willing to stop reading even though home means kids, dinner, vacuuming, etc. I hurried to vacuum and pick up the kids so I could get back to the book. I managed to read for another hour and a half in the garden while the kids played and then I had to wait until after dinner when the kids were asleep. I didn’t go to sleep myself until I had finished the book.

This may not sound very unusual for other readers but for me it’s quite unusual to be able to finish a book in a day, especially a normal day with lots of other things to do. But I put aside everything I possibly could and just read. This book had something, that special something. The X-factor of books. It wasn’t my genre, not my normal preferred style, nothing normal, really, for me. But it was so good.

All this just to say that you’ll finally see me recommending a crime book. Off you go, now. Go and buy Paula Hawkins “The Girl on the Train.” You won’t be sorry.

 

 

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Cleaning, divorces and suicides

It’s quite normal that the kids wake up at 5:30 – 6 am. It’s also quite normal that they are wild and energetic from the moment they open their eyes. Today as well. We have a morning routine for getting everyone ready, oatmeal, fresh clothes, boxed lunches and teeth brushing, then out the door, an extra count of gloves and hats, lunches and boots. I wave bye-bye to the family, then return to the house to clean up, sort out, empty the dishwasher, check laundry, all everyday business.

Today was slightly different, though, as I had decided to spend all day cleaning the house thoroughly. It’s quite nice, actually, cleaning when you’re home alone. Spotify, headphones, volume up. Off we go … The dog, however, didn’t like it to much, running from one end of the house to the other all day to avoid vacuum cleaner, wet cloths and floor scrubs. She had a rough day.

A little after midday, as I was taking a break for a quick lunch, I called my dad. That’s quite normal, too. We talk every second or third day; if I fail to call first, he calls me up and complains that he’s lonely and no one cares about him (all for fun, of course, he’s quite busy and never lonely.)  We talked as usual, and it was about time for me to go and pick up the kids, and we still talked, so I leashed the dog and brought dad along with me on the headset.

As I walked, dad turned to a different subject. As if he had forgotten, he suddenly said: But you haven’t heard all the news! We had talked quite a lot, and I was a bit surprised that it hadn’t included the news so far as we had touched upon many different subjects. Our talks always contain everything from philosophy across politics to life learning as well as kids, family, memories, hobbies, etc. Well, the news …

The other day, he told me, several different people had called him several times, all on top of each other. As he was busy, taking a class in stone jewelry crafting, he hadn’t been able to call back until hours later.

First, a good friend of the family announced his divorce. After a move to a foreign country, years of marriage and building up an entirely new life and a good business, the marriage couldn’t last any longer. I had to pause in my walk, pretend to be deeply interested in the patch of grass, which the dog was sniffing, to conceal my tears from people walking by. A divorce might sound quite ordinary, but it never is when it’s someone you care about. Someone whom you want to be happy and live a life of ease and joy. My dad gave me all the details, he couldn’t conceal the hurt in his voice anymore than I could. And then his voice grew even more raw. His cousin also called. A cousin, whom he grew up with in their grandparents’ house, someone who colored his early life, but also someone who hurt both himself and everyone else by turning to the bottle when life became too hard.

I remember him clearly from my childhood, a talented painter, the one who would always liven up the family parties, but also someone, who was always talked about in hushed voices at the same parties; only as an adult did I understand why. The bottles only grew deeper, and he turned into what many people would call a tragedy.

Tragedy or not, my dad’s cousin was recently told that he has cancer. He went into treatment and got better. But now, it got worse. Lung cancer, and badly so. I guess you can say it isn’t surprising seeing that he smoked two packs of cigarettes a day to accompany the booze. What surprised everyone was his reaction to the news. He went home, drank every ounce of alcohol in his apartment and emptied every pill glass he could find. My guess is that would be quite a lot.

Somehow he survived. I don’t know who found him or how he was rescued, but this was last week, and now he told my dad. He’s in a recovery home, and just wanted my dad to know. My dad’s reaction was quite understandable; when told, he yelled: Why the hell didn’t you call me first?

Well, yes .. Why didn’t he? Why didn’t he choose differently than suicide? Why didn’t he reach out? Why didn’t our family friend seek help to save his marriage, a counselor, a therapist, someone? Why didn’t he call before it all went bad? Why not half a year ago to say things were unsteady? Why didn’t someone get my dad’s cousin some help to stop him drinking  and smoking 50 years ago? Why couldn’t he change? Why?

And this is what it all comes down to. When I finished the call, I felt empty at first. So close, all this hurt. And then came the why, why this, why that. Why all of it? My own thoughts from the day and a busy day up ahead became distant and irrelevant. It was spring warm today, no need for hat, gloves or scarf, the sun was bright and eager to reheat everything, flowers breaking through the ground everywhere, such a beautiful day, and there I was, a head full of tragedy.

It’s strange, life, you just never know what’s up ahead. You can plan, structure, control, think all you want, but you just never know. And maybe it’s easier, better even, to try not to, just let go, and let things happen. “I can’t do anything,” I told my dad, as I felt I should do something, ought to do something, but how in the world can I save a marriage or cure lung cancer, how can I talk someone out of suicide or make them believe there’s more to life when they just don’t see it? This is out of my league.

I can be there, make myself available for a talk, a hug, a presence. And sometimes, that might be all we need.

 

 

Posted in family, life, memories, Tragedy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

67 seas i et sommerminde/67 seas in a summer memory

Jeg kan ikke huske årstallet nu. Jeg ved, det har været omkring 1994 eller senere, for jeg var startet i gymnasiet. Jeg kan også huske, at det var sommer, og at jeg havde fået fritidsarbejde på den lokale tankstation. Jeg var i den der fase, hvor ens hjerne og hjerte ræser derudaf hurtigere, end fornuften kan følge med, hvis den overhovedet eksisterer i den alder. Det var den rasende blanding af svimlende kærlighed og total selvdestruktion, som regerer nogle teenagere, og jeg var fuldstændig uden holdepunkt i orkanens hærgen.

Det er hundrede år og en sommer siden, men nogle gange husker jeg det, som er jeg stadig midt i denne kaotiske tid. En dag, som i dag, hvor jeg kobler headsettet i telefonen og klikker ind på Spotify for at høre lidt musik, mens jeg gør rent. Hvor er jeg dog blevet gammel, tænker jeg, mens jeg skriver dette. Så uendeligt langt fra den tid. Nu, hvor livet er madpakker, huskelister, bureaukrati, klokkeslet og længslen efter ubrudt nattesøvn. Dengang var det pokker i vold og spring over afgrunde uden tanke for faldet. Dengang, i tredive graders varme, i min sorte Dizzy T-shirt og nye Doc Martens, under brændende sol midt i en skare af vilde fans.

Rutebilen fra Udkantsdanmark, der dengang endnu ikke var navngivet således, kørte ikke til tiden, så far hentede mig på tanken, da jeg havde fri, og kørte mig ind til Odense. Jeg husker ikke, hvad vi talte om, men husker, at jeg klædte om på bagsædet: de nye Doc Martens, de fede solbriller, T-shirten. Han satte mig af på Brandts Klædefabrik, hvor koncerten var. Det må have været før, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy blev helt store. Jeg kan huske, at jeg mødtes med venner, men ikke hvem. Og så husker jeg følelsen af at stå der i mængden, pokker i voldsk, den totale overgivelse i musikken, i følelsen, det svimlende, turen ned i afgrunden og tilbage til balancegangen på en følelsesmæssig silketråd. De var fede dengang, de er fede nu. Musikken er eviggyldig – teenageårene kun et blink i tidens kapløb med livet.

Jeg klikkede ind på en tilfældig playliste, var i humør til rock, valgte en liste, der hed noget i retning af: rock du kender. Og det var sandt. Jeg kendte det. Dizzys helt unikke klang, der med et snuptag greb mig om livet og sendte mig tilbage til den fortabte sommerdag. Waterline, Silverflame, 67 seas in your eyes … tidløst og dog uforanderligt i minder.

Hvem var jeg dengang? På mange måder ligeså håbløst fortabt i mig selv, som jeg er nu. Hvad har så ændret sig? Fornuft? Ansvarlighed?

Den eftermiddag i hed sommervarme i alt for varme Doc Martens og med den typiske teenagefølelse af alt eller intet, den dag kom tilbage nu på en helt almindelig hverdag med jobsøgning, rengøring og pasning af en influenzasyg bettemand på sofaen med Lille Nørd og Hr. Skæg. Hvordan kom jeg hertil? Og hvad kunne der være sket, hvis den eftermiddag for hundrede år og en sommer siden var gået helt anderledes?

Jeg kan ikke huske, hvad der kom før eller hvad, der kom efter. Jeg kan kun huske turen dertil, at jeg havde været på arbejde, og hvordan jeg stod der ved scenen på Brandts. Fornemmelsen af bagende varme, fed musik og en crowd, der gik amok. Et tilfældigt minde, et af så mange, men stadig unikt. Unikt dengang og i dette nu. Hvordan den pige dengang blev til mig nu. Hvordan meget ændrer sig, men ikke alt. Så jeg fylder gulvspanden og går amok til 67 seas, og livet går videre.

…………………………………………………..

I don’t remember the year now. I know it was around 1994 or later because I had begun the gymnasium. I also remember that it was summer, and that I had my after-school job at the local gas station. I was in that phase where your brain and heart race on faster than reason can follow, if that even exists at that age. It was the furious mixture of dizzying love and total self-destruction which governs some teenagers, and I was completely without grip in the ravage of the hurricane.

It was one hundred years and a summer ago, but sometimes I remember it was if I am still in the middle of this chaotic time. On a day like today as I plug in the headset to the phone and click my way to Spotify to listen to some music while I clean. How old I have become, I think, as I write this. So endlessly far from the that time. Now, as life is boxed lunched, check lists, bureaucracy, set times and the longing for an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Back then it was devil-may-care and leaps across chasms without thoughts on the fall. Back then, in 30 degrees Celsius, in my black Dizzy t-shirt, beneath the burning sun in the middle of a wild crowd of fans.

The bus from rural Denmark, which back then hadn’t been named so, didn’t leave on time, so Dad picked me up at the gas station, when I was done working, and drove me to Odense. I don’t remember, what we talked about, but I remember that I got dressed on the backseat: the new Doc Martens, the cool sunglasses, the t-shirt. He dropped me off at Brandts Klædefabrik, where the concert was. It must have been before Dizzy Mizz Lizzy got really famous. I remember, I met up with friend, but not whom. And then I remember the feeling of being there in the crowd, devil-may-care, the complete surrender to the music, in the feeling, the dizzying, the rush down the chasm and back to balancing on the emotional silk thread. They were great then, they are great now. The music is eternal – the teenage years just a blink in time’s race against life.

I clicked on a random playlist, was in the mood for rock, chose a list called something like: Rock you know. And it was true. I knew it. The completely unique sound of Dizzy, which with a quick pull grabbed me around the waist and sent me back to that lost summer’s day. Waterline, Silverflame, 67 seas in your eyes … timeless, yet unalterable in memories.

Who was I back then? In many ways as hopelessly lost in myself as I am now. What has changed? Reason? Responsibility?

That afternoon in hot summer’s warmth in way too warm Doc Martens and with the typical teenage feeling of all or nothing, that day came back now on a completely ordinary everyday with job search, cleaning and taking care of the flu-stricken little guy on the sofa with Lille Nørd and Hr.  Skæg. How did I get here? And what could have been if that afternoon one hundred years and a summer ago had gone differently?

I don’t remember what came before or what came after. I only remember the drive there, that I had been at work and how I stood there by the stage at Brandts. The sense of scorching heat, great music and a crowd gone wild. A random memory, one of so many, but still quite unique. Unique then and now. How that girl back then became me now. How a lot changes, but not everything. And so I fill up the cleaning bucket and run amok with 67 seas, and life goes on.

 

 

Billede fra http://fototv.dk/idolerne-fra-dizzy-mizz-lizzy-endelig-foreviget/

 

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Det falske skræmmebillede/The fake scare story

Et af de ord, der oftest bliver slynget rundt i tidens mest populære debat, er ordet: islam. Det er som om, islam står i lighedstegn med alle udlændinge, flygtninge, indvandrere og migranter, som om alle, der krydser den danske grænse uden at være født i Danmark, hører under islam. Det er så uhyggeligt unuanceret, men man må jo indse, at det er det, som gør det så utroligt nemt at male et skræmmebillede for alle, der ikke evner eller orker at skabe sit eget overblik.

Islam er en religion på linje med kristendom, jødedom og andre. En religion er ikke det samme som kultur, og man kan på ingen måde skære alle, der deler en religion, over en kam. Af samme grund kan det simpelthen ikke lade sig gøre at påstå, at alle, der tror på islam, er ens. Og på samme måde kan man ikke påstå, at en bestemt religion er bedre end en anden.

Vi ved alle, hvad der er blevet begået af mord, krig og forbrydelser i kristendommens navn. Og hvad der stadig begås i religionens navn i dens mere ekstreme grene. Hvis du løfter en finger mod en religion, må du løfte den mod alle, som bruger religionen som et våben i deres personlige vendetta.

Det er nemlig personligt. Det handler ikke om kultur eller religion. Det handler om personer. Jeg kender mange mennesker med forskellige religioner, kulturer og personligheder. Hverken kultur eller religion definerer dem som mennesker. Den kristne er ikke nødvendigvis medmenneskelig og forstående, ligesom muslimen ikke nødvendigvis er fjendsk og intolerant. Heller ikke omvendt. De er alle forskellige personer med forskellige holdninger. Nogle holdninger er givetvis præget af kultur, barndom, religion og omgivelser, men alle som en er de mennesker domineret af personlighed mere end noget andet.

Hvad skaber et menneskes personlighed? Det er en større afhandling, men jeg tør godt påstå, at flere millioner mennesker ikke har en ens personlighed, selvom de deler samme religion. Den gruppe indeholder diversitet i samme mål som enhver anden religiøs gruppe.

Er det så denne gruppes kultur, der er et problem? Nej, for kulturen er nøjagtigt som religionen, ligeså mangeartet og præget af alt mulig andet. Alle, der kommer fra Danmark er ens … Nej vel. Heller ikke alle fra Jylland, fra København eller fra Lille Olmstrup.

Det kan ikke lade sig gøre at påstå, at alle fra en gruppering er ens. Derfor kan det heller ikke lade sig gøre at danne en mening om et menneske baseret på det menneskes kultur eller religion. Ergo kan et menneske alene dømmes på dets person, m.a.o. det menneskes handlinger og meninger.

Og så er det svært at male et dominerende skræmmebillede over en befolkningsgruppe.

Hvordan vil jeg ses af andre mennesker? Som dansker? En del af en bestemt nationalitet og kultur? Er jeg som alle andre danskere? Så bestemt ikke. Som kristen så? Nej. Jeg er bestemt ikke religiøs på noget plan. Hvad så? Hvordan skal andre dømme og kategorisere mig? Som menneske, tak, som person. Kom ud og mød mig, se mig i øjnene, tal med mig og lær mig at kende. Derefter kan du dømme, hvis du finder dom nødvendigt.

Så drop nu brugen af islam i skræmmekampagner. Drop nu forsøget på at modstille religioner. Drop nu i det hele taget religionen som sagens kerne. Lad mennesket møde mennesket. Se udover alle de prædikater, fordomme og holdninger som alligevel ikke kan bære i det mellemmenneskelige møde.

Lad os nu tale om det, der er vigtigt.

……………………………………

One of the words most often used in the most popular debate at this time is the word: islam. It is as if islam equate with all foreigners, refugees, immigrants and migrants, as if all who cross the Danish border without being born in Denmark belong to islam. It’s so eerily undiscriminating, but you have to realize that this is what makes it so incredibly easy to create a scare story for all who haven’t the ability or the strength to create their own overview.

Islam is a religion just like christianity, judaism and others. A religion isn’t the same as culture, and you cannot in any way lump all together who share a religion. For the same reason you simply cannot claim that all who believe in islam are alike. And in the same way you cannot claim that one certain religion is better than the other.

 

We all know what has been done concerning murders, wars and crimes in the name of christianity. And what is still being done in the name of religion in the more extreme branches. If you raise a warning finger at a religion, you must raise it at all who use religion as a weapon in their personal vendetta.

Because it is personal. It has nothing to do with culture or religion. It is all about people. I know a lot of people with different religions, cultures and personalities. Neither culture nor religion define them as people. The christian isn’t necessarily humane and understanding and the muslim isn’t necessarily hostile and intolerant. Neither the other way around. They are all different persons with different agendas. Some agendas are certainly colored by culture, childhood, religion and surroundings, but all of them are people dominated by personality more than anything else.

What creates a personality? That would be a greater dissertation, but I dare claim that many millions of people haven’t the same personality even though they share a religion. That group contains diversity measuring up to that of any other religious group.

Is it then the culture of this group, which is a problem? No, culture is exactly like religion, just as varied and colored by many things. All who come from Denmark are alike … Nope. Not from Jutland either, from Copenhagen or Little Olmstrup.

You just cannot claim that everyone from a certain group are alike. Therefore you cannot have an opinion about a person based on that person’s culture or religion. Ergo a person can only be judged on its person, i.e. the actions and attitudes of that person.

And then it becomes hard to create a dominating scare story about a group of people.

How do I want to be viewed by other people? As a Dane? Part of a certain nationality and culture? Am I like all other Danes? Definitely not. As a christian then? No. I’m definitely not religious at all. What then? How are others to judge and categorize me? As a human being, thank you, as a person. Come out and meet me, look into my eyes, talk to me and get to know me. Then you can pass judgement on me, if you find it necessary.

So please, stop using islam for the scare stories. Stop trying to oppose religions. In every way just stop making religion the core of the matter. Let people meet the people. Look above all the labels, prejudices and attitudes that in cannot last in the inter-human meeting in anyway.

Let us now talk about that, which is important.

 

 

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Skam over Danmark/ Shame on Denmark

Jeg bor i et land, som i disse dage er skældt ud verden over. Store, internationale medier skriver artikler, laver satire og sætter Danmark på forsiden, fordi dette lille lands regering har vedtaget love, der lugter langt væk af tidligere tiders nazisme og fremmedhad. Facebook, Instagram og andre sociale medier slynger om sig med hashtags som #shameondenmark og #ikkeimitnavn. Jeg indrømmer, at det gør min egen Facebookside også. Men så aktiv, som jeg nu er, i debatten om flygtninge og det stigende fremmedhad, så stoppede jeg, da jeg stødte på #shameondenmark.

Jeg indrømmer, at jeg før har skrevet ordene: Jeg skammer mig … og det er pinligt … Men faktisk, indser jeg nu, har alt dette ikke noget med mig at gøre. Jeg er dansk, jeg er født i Danmark, mine danske aner går hundredvis af år tilbage. Danmark er mit land, min arv og mit blod, men det her, denne udvikling, har intet med mig at gøre. Jeg har ikke stemt disse mennesker ind i regeringen, jeg har ikke støttet disse lovforslag, og jeg har på intet tidspunkt været med til at skabe denne udvikling i mit land. Og dette er mit land! Så nej, det er ikke Danmark, der skal skamme sig. Danmark er et skønt land, og det er fyldt med mennesker, der både kan og vil hjælpe mennesker i nød. Det er fyldt med glade, kærlige, sjove mennesker, som favner resten af verden, som ser fremad og som kæmper deres egen daglige kamp for at ændre udviklingen mod kulde og had.

Så jeg foreslår, at vi ændrer tonen her og nu. Det er ikke #shameondenmark. Det er skam over de mennesker, som vil gøre landet til Helvedes fremmedhadske forgård, skam over de mennesker, som ikke orker at favne og rumme deres medmennesker, skam over de mennesker, som lever i angst og had til andre til det punkt, hvor de ikke længere rummer næstekærlighed. Skam over dem; ikke over Danmark, ikke over danskerne.

Lad os stå sammen og vise verden, at Danmark er kærlighed, at Danmark er, hvad det altid har været: et land, der trods dets bette størrelse både kan og vil hjælpe, rumme, favne og elske. Lad os være tidligere tiders modstandsbevægelse, vores bedsteforældre og oldeforældre som kæmpede mod hadet, hjalp dem i nød og stod frem, når det gjaldt. Lad os vise verden, at det er Danmark. Danmark er ikke vores regering. Danmark er ikke de nyhedsoverskrifter, der nu suser verden rundt. Danmark er os, som træder frem og siger: Stop! Vi vil ikke være med til det her. Og så ændrer vi det.

For faktisk kan vi ændre det. Regeringen er kun så stærk, som de folk, der står bag dem. Og vi er det folk, der kan træde væk og vælge fra. Så jeg foreslår, at det er netop det, vi gør. Vi er mange, rigtigt mange, der ikke vil være med til denne politik. Og når mange står sammen, kan alting ændres.

Det er tid til nye hashtags. #danmarkerkærlighed #dendanskerevolution

Lad os ændre verden nu.

——

I live in a country, which in these days is much-criticized around the world. Great international media write articles, create satire and put Denmark on the front pages, because the government of this tiny country has voted on laws that reek of past times Nazism and xenophobia. Facebook, Instagram and other social media throw around hashtags like #shameondenmark and #notinmyname. I admit, so does my own Facebookpage. However, as active as I am in the debate on refugees and the rising xenophobia, I stopped when I came across #shameondenmark.

I admit, earlier on I have written the words: I am ashamed … and it’s embarrassing … but actually, I now realize that all of this has nothing to do with me. I am Danish, I am born in Denmark, my Danish heritage goes back hundreds of years. Denmark is my country, my heritage and my blood, but this, this development, has nothing to do with me. I haven’t voted for these people to be government, I haven’t supported these new laws, and I have at no point been part of creating this development in my country. And this is my country! So, no, it isn’t Denmark that should be ashamed. Denmark is a wonderful country, and it’s full of people who both can and will help people in need. It’s brimming with happy, loving, funny people who embrace the rest of the world, who look forward and who fight their own daily battle to change the development towards cold and hate.

So, I suggest that we change the tone here and now. It isn’t #shameondenmark. It’s shame on the people who want to turn this country into the hateful Forecourt of Hell, shame on the people who cannot be bothered to embrace and hold their fellow human beings, shame on the people who live in fear and hate of others to the point where they can no longer contain humanity. Shame on them; not on Denmark, not on the Danes.

Let’s stand together and show the world that Denmark is love, that Denmark is what is has always been: a country that in spite of its tiny size both can and will help, embrace, hold and love. Let us be past time’s resistance movement, our grandparents and great grandparents who fought against the hate, helped those in need and stood tall when it mattered. Let us show the world, that this is Denmark. Denmark isn’t our government. Denmark isn’t those head lines that now fly around the world. Denmark is us who step forward to say: Stop! We will not be part of this. And then we change it.

Because we can change it. The government is only as strong as the people who stand behind them. And we are those people who can step back and choose differently. So I suggest that this is what we do. There are a lot of us, really a lot, who will not agree to these politics. And when many stand together, anything can be changed.

It’s time for new hashtags. #denmarkislove #thedanishrevolution

Let us change the world now.

 

 

 

 

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For just one day …

And if you say run, I’ll run with you
And if you say hide, we’ll hide.
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two.
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower.

David Bowie was one of those special artists whom I have known and listened to throughout my life. He was just always there, on the radio, on a cassette, playing in someone’s kitchen, at someone’s party; this genius, inspirational, out of this world sound taking your soul on grand adventures in the middle of the living room.

And who doesn’t remember Labyrinth? No doubt about Jareth causing my systems to awaken to womanhood …

And today, this world, this space and time, says goodbye to this amazing soul.

Thank you for the music … See you on the other side.

 

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Flygtninge, der når vores land, bliver forhånet og foragtet

@carstenjensendk

tegning til Carsten Jensen debatSpyttemanden har forladt broen over motorvejen, nu står Folketingets flertal der, skriver Carsten Jensen i Politiken.

Der ligger et druknet barn i vandkanten på en græsk ø.

Enhver mor eller far kender den ængstelse, der altid lurer ved synet af deres egne børn, selv i de lykkeligste øjeblikke: Der kan ske dem noget. Nu er der sket et barn det mest forfærdelige af alt, og i dette øjeblik, da vores blik falder på det, bliver den druknede lille dreng vores alle sammens barn. Et barn er et universelt håb, og håbet er holdt op med at trække vejret.

Så glemmer vi ham.

Hans søskende og forældre, fætre og kusiner, onkler og tanter kommer for tæt på os. De går på vore motorveje i noget, der ligner en folkevandring. De er på flugt fra strandkanten, fra druknedøden og andre former for død, fastklemte under sammenstyrtede huse.

En mand spytter på…

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My rock and starlight

The other day I mentioned one of my favorite writers, the great Richard Bach. In my time, I have come across a few life-changing books; the first one I remember clearly is Narnia, then Mio, min mio, The Never-Ending Story, The Outsiders, Lord of the Rings… and  Illusions. I’m sure there are more, lots more, but these are the ones coming into mind as I write this.  I firmly believe that most of my personality, most of my thoughts, my ideals and views on the world have been shaped and set by these stories. Of course, I believe everything is stories, but that’s a matter for another post sometime…

Today, I write about Richard Bach. In the years after first reading Illusions,  I referred to him as The Master, but I don’t anymore, knowing he wouldn’t like it. I also know that we are all masters, if we want to be so. And I guess that is the most important message from him to the world: We are all masters.

I have met many different people, some who knew and loved this message, some who just didn’t get it, some who shrugged at it, some who understood, but couldn’t live it, some who found it ridiculous. Some find it silly, some too much of a burden. Yet, whatever you think, whatever you feel about this – we are all masters of our own life. None can live it, none can change it, none can make a difference – only you.

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If you have come this far and you’re still thinking Richard Who? – then read this. It only gives you the outer shell, of course, and what’s important here is the message.

And what is the message, then? Well, in short, Richard tells us that this world; time, space, bodies, the beginning and end of life, is an illusion. It is a story, which we play out for fun (yes, fun!), and it’s no more real than watching a movie in the theater. This means we are all but actors on a stage, partaking in these stories, but it also means that we’re free to change our stories as we please as we go along. And this is where being a master comes in. Because we’re only playing out stories, we’re also free to change the stories: If you don’t like what you see, then change it.

And how? Well, this is where the grain of a sesame seed comes in.

If you have imagination as a grain of sesame seed, all things are possible to you.

Richard Bach – Illusions

All it takes is imagination. Not belief, not faith, not prayers, not suffering, not self-punishment or abstaining – just imagination. In the world he offers, there are no Gods, no heaven or hell, no rules, no bidding or revengeful overlords – there is only your free will and whatever your imagination can conjure up. You see why many have found this man to be dangerous? How would this world be if everyone realized this is true?

He answered that once … His guess is: happy. I agree.

As you can see from my list of life-changing books, I have always been a fan of magic and fantasy. When I first read Illusions, I must have been 11 or 12, my focus point was the magic: The hovering tools, swimming in the ground, walking through walls; this was important to me. This author was telling me this could be done. I remember checking with my dad: Is he saying this can really be done? I also remember my dad saying: Yes. And it’s true. My dad has always been awesome

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Reading the book again later in life, something else stood out: The message that you can change your life as you please. If you can imagine it, you can do it. And who gets to decide what’s real? This was the time I lost all trust in so-called authorities, and I have never regained that.

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”
Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull

A courageous seagull named Jonathan changed the world when it was born. Illusions has always been my favorite of Richard’s works, but I know a lot of people favorite Jonathan. Jonathan definitely changed Richard’s life and the life of thousands, maybe millions, of people. How so? Well, it offered a new way of life, a new way of thinking and seeing the world. Instead of being a victim, suffering circumstances, bowing down to destiny and general opinion, it offered free flight and free choices.

How much more there is now to living! Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!

Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull

It may leave you somewhat shaken, realizing this for the first time. It also leaves you responsible for everything … Seeing this as true, you’ll no longer be able to point your finger at the world for blame, you alone hold the key. Not everybody cares to be responsible like this. Some people like to blame others, blame circumstance, blame destiny. Some people enjoy the role of a victim, the suffering and complaining, and of course, they are absolutely free to enjoy this.

For me, shaking off the burdens of destiny and circumstance has been absolutely joyful. Empowering. Magical. I, and I alone, make things happen. I, and I alone, create my world. Now, this is magic, this is walking through walls and hovering tools, this is life.

I’m still practicing loops and free falls in this. I believe it is true. I have embraced magic and imagination, and I have managed quite some tricks as regards attracting things and people into my life. But most important of all, I have embraced this:

None of it was making the lady on the phone any calmer. But she broke suddenly and said simply, “How do you know all these things that you say? How do you know what you say is true?”

“I don’t know they’re true,” he said. “I believe them because it’s fun to believe them.”

Richard Bach – Illusions

Up until today, Richard has quite an extensive bibliography. I have read everything on it. Books on flying airplanes, books on love, books about ferret adventures, books on travels and life. Together, these book sum up everything in life from high ideals, adventures, learning and living to everyday humdrum. They tell a collected story about a life dedicated to this message.

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On this blog, I have often mentioned perfection. To me, this message is perfection. It holds everything, and it sets you free. There’s no book of rules, no wisdom to acquire, no levels to gain: It’s all Here and Now. It’s what you are. A perfect idea; endless and everlasting. Free. Perfection.

 

Oh, of course, everything on this blog may be wrong.

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A grain of sesame seed

A very wise man once wrote: If you have imagination as a grain of sesame seed, all things are possible to you.

Ever since I read that, I believed it. In fact, the book changed my life, because it changed how I see the world. To be honest, at this point in my life, I can’t really remember how I saw the world before this book, but I certainly remember how it felt. And it wasn’t a very nice feeling.

For some reason,  I have always felt trapped in this world. Trapped among people, between situations, circumstances, laws, rules and “have to do’s”. And I don’t enjoy feeling trapped.

So this book changed my life. From being helplessly trapped, I started realizing I am my own master of creation. I create my world, my situations, my traps … If I am trapped, it’s because I have trapped myself, and I am free to walk away from this trap.

So far, so good. This is honestly how I feel and how I see this world of mine. This means, of course, I am also responsible for every single feeling, situation and helplessness I encounter. This can be quite the burden sometimes since it’s much nicer to blame others for my circumstances.

At the moment, I am feeling helplessly trapped, and as always, I am not enjoying it. And I’m not enjoying knowing that I’m the only person who can change this since I am the master of my own life. So what to do …?

The situation is that I am looking for a full-time job. I have been for about a year. Freelancing and part-timing as an editor is fun, but I need a full-time steady job instead. And since I have yet to finish and master my creation of the novel I can publish and sell for billions and trillions to live on happily ever after, this is what I need to do right now: find a full-time job. (I guess sometimes my imagination is limited to less than a  grain of sesame seed, sorry, Richard.)

I have been looking for a little more than a year now, sending out a steady stream of applications. At first, I was selective, now less so. I apply for basically anything I can possibly do. I believed in myself, I believe in my experience, my knowledge, my education, my talents, etc. And I believe I write pretty decent applications, yet I have still even to land a single interview. How can this be?

Now this question I haven’t been able to answer. Of course, there is the obvious answer that someone with more talent than I always apply for the same jobs. But still … And believing that I am the master of my own life, how can I not create this opportunity for myself? Am I blocking myself so this won’t happen? Am I meant for something else? Am I blind or staring down the wrong road?

What I do know is that this stand-still is killing me; killing my mood, my energy, my spirit. I want this and it doesn’t happen. At the moment, it’s weighing down on me to the point where I can’t even read. No book appeals, nothing comforts.

I was just looking over my endless bookshelves, pausing to think, and my eyes caught “Illusions” again. I know this book by heart, every line, every comma, every dot of ink. And I love this book so much. Picking it up, I remembered something Richard always said: If you need an answer, pick anything readable, turn to a random page and read the answer to your question.

Let’s try this. Question: Why can’t I get a full-time job right now?

Book says: “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”

Very well, Richard. I’ll let this simmer for the night.

Oh, and dear reader, if you haven’t already read it, get yourself “Illusions.”

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All this light …

Just the other day I finished reading Anthony Doerr’s “All the light we cannot see.” This is one of those rare books that incorporate everything and forms perfection. It is beautifully written, almost hauntingly so, it has a great story, it touches upon the concepts of humanity, philosophy, love, what makes humans human – and what turns them evil … In all, this goes on the perfection shelf, and it has left me changed.

As I have mentioned before, this is what great literature does. It changes you and it stays with you forever. Even in the maelstroms of my very busy life, part of me is still sitting silently with Marie-Laure on the secret beach feeling the water slip back and forth over my bare feet, touching the world she will never see. Part of me still cries for the loss of the world, for the cruelty and the people pushed by fate to live in fear and longing.

Anthony Doerr writes in a voice that melts into your very soul and stays with you forever. In the blink of an eye, he’s become one of my favorite authors. His other books are now lined up for me to read, and I suspect they’ll be just as beautiful.

Another rare gem of perfection, an addictive Sea of Flames, this work reminds you of the humanity of history, how it wasn’t merely historic facts but real people who lived through this chaos and cruelty in our world, and not really so long ago. Where would you be in this, you ask yourself in the midst of this story. Wouldn’t you, too, try to hang on to your part of the world, having a hard time seeing it all from above. It is so easy, too easy, to see this once removed several decades from its whirlwind of events, but being in the middle of it, chaos consumes you.

Back to the literature, the art of it. This is what it does. It engulfs you and becomes so much more than printed words and a story. It moves you, touches you, makes you think and feel, and it changes your tiny cocoon of a world here and now. It moves from print to emotion to thought to world-changer. This is the life of literature.

I know there are people out there criticizing Anthony Doerr for normalizing and aesthetizising the Second World War with this book. I believe they are wrong. There is nothing normalized or beautified in this book. Quite the opposite. The horrors, the animalism and barbarism stand out clearly, it shocks, appalls and leaves you cold. With the underlying beauty and love that follow Werner, Jutta, Marie-Laure and the others, the horrors of the war itself, the killings, the torture and cold hate stands out even more clearly. And this is what fiction does compared to faction! Reading a list of facts on the war would never move you like Anthony Doerr’s story does, and this exactly is the power of aesthetics. Yes, his writing portrays Werner as a gentle soul despite the fact that he is trained as one of Hitler’s boys, and yes, he fights for the German side, but this is the point of it all! The people who fought, the boys who joined and found it glorious, how would they have been able to see it all decades removed and from above for a bigger picture? They didn’t have the time, perspective and history we have today. They wouldn’t have had the means to judge. This exactly makes it all the more realistic, the beauty enhancing the horror of it all – being right in the middle of this.

In conclusion, I’m adding this book to my shelf of perfection and I warmly recommend it to anyone who enjoys beautiful and moving literature. Now back to the maelstrom …

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