Seeing is not believeing

IMG_4507As I did go, even if I was not feeling well, I might as well make the most of it. Due to the connections I arrived hours before the others, and could go looking for things, in a most happy place to do that. A misty, unknown wood, sprinkled with steady spring rain and full of surprises.

IMG_4484 (1280x1041)

First I saw golden glimmers among the trees, old rotten leaves, but still a burning orange, so lovely.

IMG_4463 (1280x853)

Then I saw golden glimmers among the trees, except these were reflection of trees in the water, and the glimmer was fiery red carps, golden moment.

IMG_4489 (1280x1058)

The next orange flutter was a bird hopping close to my feet, obviously trying to remind me that others had brought food…

I did not pay attention, as that was when I saw a bundle of unbelievable, flaming orange leaping over the carpet of pine needles and laying down to rest among the trees. Neither leaves, nor fish, nor birds, but a couple of Siberian tigers jumping for joy in the rainy spring morning.

IMG_4514 (1280x1064)

Sometimes, even seeing is almost not believing, and as I did not capture them until they took a rest, you might believe what you want to. Isn’t that always so, no matter what we are told, even no matter what we see, we believe only what we are prepared to see.

We see only what we think it is possible to see? Sometimes, we do. And then at other times, there are tigers in norwegian woods.

IMG_4502 (1119x860)

 

When life hands you lemons- take a nap!

IMG_4456 (1280x815)I thought I were getting wiser, and in theory I am.

So here’s the history and the lesson it tries to offer: I have always had way more ideas than anyone can fulfill in a lifetime. Sometimes I try share my ideas with others, and sometimes I just try harder. I also have way more energy in my soul than in my body, having had my share of ill health through the years, but never giving in, always planning for something. I used to say, I’ll be ill on friday, or next week, or whenever I had a gap in my schedule. I tell myself it is because I want to fulfill my obligations, while in truth I guess I want people to admire what I am able to do.

Through the years I have had countless reminders that life does not work that way. If my body gets loud enough for me to hear it, I should have listened a long time ago.

So, I thought I had learned that. When life is too much, it just is! There is only so much decluttering and reorganisation I can do, if I forget to sleep and rest, no amount of neat drawers can keep me healthy. Or any of us, for that matter. Perhaps all decluttering should start with getting to bed at a set time and rising at a set time, and then see if life doesn’t change?

Just now, with a bad cough, and plane tickets for tomorrow, I am still working on that lesson. Perhaps I should have known as much on friday already? I wanted a nap, I needed a nap, and then I found 10 lemons in the fridge. If I were not going to be at home, they would be wasted. So I made my favorite, lemon curd.

I am wondering though if I really think I am worth less than two pounds of lemons? I’ll have a nap and rethink that.

 

Silver, books or food?

IMG_4193These last weeks I have been reading two books, in norwegian, written by daughters, clearing out their mother’s home. Some years ago my siblings and I did that too, a chore that is something quite else, more like an initiation rite.
Going through item after item, trash and treasures, and deciding;
This you must leave, to grow to what you are to become,
this you may keep, to stay true to who you are,
this you may finally get rid of,
this is not yours to have,
all the time knowing it is only things.
The lesson that could be taken is: “These things are not what your mother left you, but what is, and what is worth keeping?”

One of the authors used the lost Franklin expedition to reflect on what we cherish. The  real story about  John Franklin and his men getting lost while searching for the Northwest passage in 1845 is still a mystery. Actually a new theory was launched as late as this january. What is known though is that these starving, lost men, pulled their sleds, hoping for salvation, but still throwing away essentials to make their burden lighter. The Inuits and the rescue parties have found tins of food, medical supplies and crucial tools left along the last route. They must have been giving in to despair, realizing all hope was lost. And then, perhaps not, the last things to be ditched were monogrammed silver cutlery and a novel. Why?

IMG_4444I found my copy of the book, The Vicar of Wakefield, and read it through, to understand why and when it would be better than food. I am not sure, what do you think?

To me the real eye opener is not how these lost men prioritized though. The more serious question is of course my own choices, not only when it comes to material belongings,or food versus books, what about relations, obligations, work, beliefs?

When I let something go, what guides my choosing? When I decide to keep on to something, will it really keep me up to the end?

Thirst by Mary Oliver

Solveig:

Pat always shares poems or quotes that gives me a new insight, while also resonating with something in my soul. Is that not always so, we can only understand the answer if the question already lives in our heart.

Originally posted on OPreach:

The pond God has given us

The pond God has given us


Another morning and I wake with thirst

for the goodness I do not have.
I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has


given us such beautiful lessons.
Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked


and hunched over my books past the hour

and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time.

Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long


conversation in my heart.
Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,


yet already I have given a great many things

away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,

except the prayers which, with this thirst,

I am slowy learning.



— Mary Oliver, Thirst,
  Beacon Press, Boston, 2006, pp. 1, 52, 69

View original

What you do not find, is still there

Hidden threats

Hidden threats

After dinner I went back to the business lounge to finish my report for the day. I was very comfortable, in a red velvety wing chair, with a cup of steaming coffee and my iPad. But I was not hidden.

In comes a group of business people. They occupy the next table, get coffee and open their laptops. At first I do not listen to their strategies, they are planning how to present their added value to their client next day, which is what business is always about. Even when one of them says  to the young and aspiring one ” remember added value is not supposed to cost us anything”, I am not surprised. He does continue though,” it is all about giving them something that is understood by their customers as added value, when in truth it they are not given what they pay for.” This makes me listen.

I am still not hidden, I am not eavesdropping, as this experienced executive is sitting a yard away from me, talking loud and clear.

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Then they compare their notes and slides and statistics, concluding that their best chance of closing the deal is to present their business client with an IT system that hides as many consumer rights as possible. The consumer that orders something through this site will then give up before discovering their legal rights. The consumer is not cheated, as the truth is still there. As an added bonus, this program could also make the order appear as it was processed at an earlier date than it was, thus giving the customer less time to file his claim. They even discussed the possibility of selling things the customer could not possibly use, as connecting flights before your first flight has landed, and then keep some of the fare. They did not go there though, not to protect the customer, but  it was not really legal, or was it?

I was still not hiding, there was no way they could not see me, smell my coffee or hear me drinking it. Even so, they did not think their plans was worth hiding.

I did not discover what firm this was, except that they were americans. I do not know who they were meeting the next day. I slowly discovered a chilling truth though, I think they did not bother to hide, because they thought every business person would think like them. They were not divulging secrets, but showing off their business acumen.They knew their client, and knew the possibility of holding truth and rights away from their customers was indeed added value.

I was not impressed, and even if I was not hiding I do not think they realized that I left. By then they were too busy toasting to the success of tomorrow.

What I do know though is that truth is still truth, even if it is hidden. I also know that no amount of that kind of added value will be worth the lack of trust in businesses that implements systems to cheat their customers.

In earlier days bakers added a roll to your order of a dozen, just to not risk the death penalty of selling less than paid for.

Rolls are easy to count,  but how do we count what we do not see, and do not know that we should be looking for? There is no use to blame the systems, they are all made by people like you and me. There is no use to blame the law, at least in Norway customers are protected, if they only know what to look  and ask for.

The client could refuse of course, which I hope they did. The customers could be more wary, investigating their rights and insisiting on truths, as I do. Not only for my own sake, but to stir up routines on behalf of those who do not know they may. We all could be more wary, not trusting each other. We could demand more government control, compliance systems and ethical regulations.

Or we could encourage each other to voice our concern, to make heard the stories of companies doing success by being fair, we could dare to challenge each other and hold each other accountable. Not only to a legal framework, but to the ethical choices we need to take to make the world better for everyone. It is still all about doing as you would be done to, isn’t it?

Dare to choose your soup

“Spinach pie with soup!”, “spinach pie!”, “with soup!” A tall lady, all clad in light blue,were weaving her way through the cafe, holding a tray with steaming plates up in the air. It smells delicious, but no one takes her offer. Most are looking up to see if the situation will be solved, then they hastily looks away as if being afraid of having their dinner choice challenged. Any thing but spinach pie and soup. At the third time the spinach with sides are carried around an old, frail man is looking up, asking meekly” vegan pie?” “Just as I said” the still smiling waitress is beaming while she puts the tray on his table “spinach pie with soup!”
He looks quickly down, as if he is ashamed of not having used the approved cafe vocabulary.
As for the rest of us, we all feel relieved. The slightly nervous cloud lifts and we all returns to our chatting, relaxing and eating non spinachy fare.
I am having cauliflower soup with fennel,which actually is Brussels sprouts and cabbage with caraway-seeds, and wonder what happened.
We were not challenged on any moral choices, we were not asked to contribute in any way, actually we were not involved at all. Still, the room had been heavy with the dread of “not pleasing” “not being good” and the will to be accommodating and helpful.
I am a person who never does anything illegal, yet still gets restless when I spot the highway patrol in my rear window. I am the one who could feel the need to explain to the usher in church that I already have donated. I am the one who need to tell the other parents why I am not standing as PTA representative, even when no one has called my name.
I think there might be two clues to behavior like this. One is our need of external confirmation, to be in with the right crowd, which is good only if the “confirmators” share our real values. An other is our conscience constantly challenging us to be sure our choices are valid, which is good only if we have established our own value accountability. How do I have to behave to contribute to the society I want to build? If I am not able to understand the connection between my choices, my acts and the consequences of them I will have no way of knowing if my choices are ethically sound. I will have no way of holding myself responsible, far less anybody else.
The soup affair was in a special setting, a “green” cafe with pictures of some guru on every wall. That is how little it took to make ordinary upright citizens question the simplest choice.
What then does it take when something that matters is at stake? Whose influence may make us unable to stand by our values? What does it take to know which values we may never abandon?

20140311-213353.jpg

Roots in a bottle

IMG_4026I was on my way to a meeting in the charming old part of Bergen. Even as I was running late, I had my camera. Coming towards me was this old woman. Leaning heavily on her cane, labouring her way uphill.

We met midway. She paused, and of course I stopped, to see if there was anything I could do for her. Was she exhausted, was she ill?

She barely threw me a glance and bent down, poked her cane in the bushes and found a hamburger wrapping and a squashed bottle. She picked them up, went over to the trash-can outside the nearest house and threw it in.

Then she walked on.

I once had great grandparents and grandparents like that. They all taught by example how the tiny deeds always adds up to more that big thoughts. I just had forgotten. With my head in the clouds and my mind in my plans I had walked straight by a chance to keep this tiny street beautiful.

I trust I will be given more chances, and I know it is not only about trash in the bushes, but in all our doings. The one step taken is more important than the thousands just planned.

What about you? What is your tiny step today?