Driving in LA

IMG_1680 trafikklysYou will not be able to drive in LA, it’s the craziest traffic, our friends in the Midwest told us, just as we were going to move to California.

I believed them. The first week I got my CA drivers license. Did I go anywhere? Hardly. Half a mile for groceries doesn’t count does it?

The first month I gradually drove further afield. All the way staying away from the highway, taking the very scenic route for everything.

Then one morning I was going to the doctor’s office, and I could not find it. I drove in circles, the GPS insisted I was close by, I was getting late, and suddenly I was on my way onto the highway. I stopped.

Then a police officer on a motorbike drove up on my left side. He stopped too, leaned over, and said, very quietly :You may go now….

And I did. I still did not go into LA though.

Until the last week of our stay. My husband was driving down to have  his Harley shipped and I took the car to pick him up. And suddenly I was driving alone in LA. The tarmac was just like any other paving. The signs were the same as the rest of the state, the cars behaved like cars all over the world. The sun was shining, I had the top down, and I was driving through LA. I even arrived at the shipping company way before my husband did.

I keep telling myself that story. Never let others define what you can do or not. At least give it a try! And I’ll let you in on a secret, a lot of others were driving in LA, and they do it every day….

Now, when a whisper tell me it can’t be done, at least not by me, I get my LA cup, have a sip of coffee and just go for it. You can see me on the cup can’t you!

IMG_7579 LA cup

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The unplugged voice

P1020880 bottlepostWow, it looks like a message in a bottle! And it was! We opened it carefully, used all our ingenuity to get it out of its container. Put it to dry on a paper towel, and waited eagerly to read the message. As it was, two young people had met, were sitting together in their car at the beach, and wanted to communicate how special it all was to the world. Facebook was not enough.The bottle was washed ashore in the first tide, just some miles from where they had been.

Let's go into the world!

Let’s go into the world!

It is still like that, and I think it will always be; the touch, the feel, the interaction between people needs to be present in the material world to be felt as significant. Even our social media, is social only as long as we know there are people out there. I do know when I have been to long at my computer because I get restless from lack of fresh air, but I never tire of hearing other people’s reflections on life, their stories, their joys. to me it not a question of plugged or unplugged, it is all about life.

Two in one, time for thought and a garden!

Two in one, time for thought and a garden!

I just looked through some of my pictures when writing this post, and I realized that I always do the same, writing, talking, reflecting, creating, caring, taking pictures, reading, traveling.

This is more like it!

This is more like it!

Either connected or unplugged, I always look for light, beauty, joy and truth.

And then there is totally unplugged coffee time

And then there is totally unplugged coffee time

To do what works, to know what does- a daily post on learning

Life is not that easy

Life is not that easy

I am a hands on person, even the theoretical stuff has to work on some level or other for me to grasp it. So when I studied theology  I could feel my brain go all mushy when studying theories of ethics, to do what’s right? Yes.

Lloyd Schermer: An America Puzzle, 2005

Lloyd Schermer: An America Puzzle, 2005

To be able to categorize the different intellectual schools defining” how and why and if so”s? No.  Even God makes it simple,  to love your neighbor as yourself. That’s it.

To me that is what life is all about, understanding this: to know what works we have to ask, not presume that I know what is best for someone else, but constantly learning, asking, being willing to think new thoughts, look for new solutions.

Greensboro Lunch Counter, Museum of American History

Greensboro Lunch Counter, Museum of American History

The irony is that when I went back to do my MBA at a business school,  ethics was suddenly interesting, necessary and important, even as an academic subject. I think the reason was just that, I was older.  I had lived, asked, wondered and been curious so that I could grasp  the existential questions behind the theory.

Now Aristotle and his ethics is my constant companion when I am working with groups of people. He insisted that the highest wisdom, phronesis, is the practical wisdom, the one we learn through doing, reflecting, sharing, to be able to repeat doing what works. Not that books and tools is not important, it is just that they alone can not be a road to happiness, still according to Aristotle.

There is an enormous energy and endless possibilities in asking people to contribute, to share their practical wisdom. There is no force stronger than  a group of people who stand together and has decided, this is our values, this is what important to us, this is what I have to stand for to respect myself, this is how we will build a better world.

Last week I walked from Union Station in Washington DC, down Constitution Avenue, to the Reflecting pool. Next week it will be 50 years since the March on Washington also followed that path. Have we learned? Yes. Are we still learning? Yes. Do we still have a long road to go till that dream is true? Yes. Is it possible? Only if we keep asking, sharing, standing together, only if we keep being willing to learn from one another.

IMG_8402 capitol

Have you eaten today? Blue pills and red pills

Come on, breakfast is ready, where is everybody?

Come on, breakfast is ready, where is everybody?

It was a late saturday evening. I was in hospital, seriously ill, and not able to eat at all. The nurses went in and out while I was more or less asleep. Hospital doors shut in their own way, they just glide silently at slow speed until they are almost closed. Then they stop, and shut in a final quick swish. Just as the door closed, this last swish brought with it a vanilla waft and a peal of laughter. Someone was baking waffles in the nurse’s kitchen, hoping for  an easy shift with time for socializing and friendship.

Trying to fool me with a blue pill are you?

Trying to fool me with a blue pill are you?

That smell brought so many memories of my grandmother’s tradition of serving waffles to everybody on saturday afternoon, of happy meals in the garden and by the fireplace. It brought longings for companionship and joy. It brought regrets for  the times I had not appreciated being with my family or taking time to share a meal with a friend. The smell of that simple and unpretentious food brought resolve to never take fellowship or sustenance as a given. To me it is not about what we eat, but eating together, sharing meals that take so long that thoughts, questions and reflections have time to arise and be dwelt upon.

I want to take part in the fun

I want to take part in the fun

I have been told that the chinese used to greet each other with ” have you eaten?”. The most important thing to know, implicating that if you had food, your day must be good. We know that many could not answer positively to that. Even today, we will find hunger, malnutrition and need very close to us. So, on the other hand, if developing pills that would take care of everybody’s need was possible, if I could eat pills so that all of us were given the chance to live, then I would do it. Until then I am happy to being able to eat. Until then, you’re welcome to sit down at my table sharing a meal.

Having a cup of coffee by the lake, come join me!

Having a cup of coffee by the lake, come join me!

Gandhi on integrity, to fight or flight

Be the change you want to see in the world

Be the change you want to see in the world

We were strolling through San Fransisco, taking photos of all the interesting skyscrapers, having a snack at Ferry building. There he was, bent, but intent on justice, humbly waving but never giving up on what he thought was right. Never fighting back, never afraid of adversaries.

My father visited San Fransisco many years ago and followed another minister on his rounds to the homeless, the desolate, the downtrodden. He warned me, you will find so much misery in that town. As our visit had a different purpose, visiting an academic conference, we were in a nice hotel, saw the sights and had wonderful meals. To us, it was so easy to look at all the homeless people not as a misery to themselves, but as a threat and a danger to ourselves. To us it was a beautiful city….on the surface. To me the constellation of Gandhi and those symbols of power and money was a reminder to be willing to raise questions, to not accept injustice, but also in all things strive for peace and nonviolence. To me, the Bible verse : blessed are the peacemakers, are the way I want to live my life. Sometimes it means not to get involved in a meaningless fight, sometimes it means to be willing to hold our ground, sometimes it means working out a compromise.

The more the merrier, a daily post on a cloned me

Old computers at Bletchley Park

Old computers at Bletchley Park

I do remember an old Duck tale story my children used to love. One of the ducks is so fed up with his duties that he constructs a robot to do his chores. The problems start when the robot self duplicates and his other selves takes over his life, until he starts to wonder which of those ducks am I? That’s the moral take of course.

The enigma

The enigma

The thing is that I already have a lot of totally obedient clones. The one who works most is happily whirling along in the laundry room and will deliver clean towels in an hour or so, thanks to her I do not have to spend my days in a cold brook swirling clothes in the stream and hauling then back. The great thing, when she is done she shuts up until needed.
I do have some stand ins too, some grow food, some spend days on the road to deliver it to me, and some take care of the food in the store until I need it. Wonderful, I can do cooking and baking for fun, knowing we will not starve if I decide not too for a day or two.
IMG_2778 hullkortThe only clone I am having trouble with is my thinking clone, this glass tablet that I spend my days fingering is luring me to think that lots of stored facts are thinking. My clone’s infinite capability of storing information and giving it back on the slightest nudge, is fooling me into thinking that I possess knowledge.

IMG_2768 kretserEven if my computer is totally non intelligent I tend to trust her more than my own mind. Perhaps we are letting the clones take over? I know for sure that the more tasks I do not perform, the more knowledge I do not possess, the more important it is to guard as a great treasure what makes me me. Is it what I do, is it what I know, is it what I remember, or is it just what I am?

The strangers that knew me – a postaday on the daily prompt

IMG_0718 seascapeI was on my way to Norway from Indiana to attend my mother’s funeral. She died quite unexpectedly while traveling, which meant there were weeks from her death to having the body back home  for burial. Weeks of intense grief and stress. During those weeks I experienced to be part of a caring society, I have told many stories of the many ways people we knew only vaguely were a great comfort. I did not know all the ways one could be a comfort to others before then, I guess that is another post.

IMG_0728 landscapeEven so, I was totally exhausted. I was traveling alone, as the boys had their finals and my husband was staying with them. Of course there were delays. In the most unorganized way, as only airports can muster, we went back and forth between the gates at Newark, not having time for eating, being lined up and then dismissed for several times. When we finally were at a promising gate, I was so tired my legs were shaking. I tried to rest against a pillar while trying not to think sad thoughts as I had no strength for crying.

IMG_0294 purpleThen from the other side of the crowd a woman came over and stood beside me. She started to talk, softly, comfortingly, not asking any questions. Turned out  she knew a wonderful person I had worked with, I got her card, and while we boarded the plane she disappeared. I never found that card again, and I my friend had never heard of her.

IMG_0697 brownThen I got to my seat, a small crowded plane and a transatlantic flight. My heart sunk as I saw who  I was to share the row with. A young couple with loads of hand luggage, guitars, bags, pillows, everything spreading into my seat too. I needed just a small private space, and it seemed that even that would be denied me. I sat down with a sigh.

IMG_2528 greenThen it was as the scene changed before my eyes. Turned out the young man was blind, and his girlfriend was also taking care of things. Before long all the paraphernalia were stowed away, they both sent me warm smiles and settled into their seats, the girl in the middle, me in the aisle seat. Then she turned towards me and had a closer look. You are cold, she said, let me get you a blanket. And she did. Put it expertly around me, turned towards her boyfriend and went to sleep. I am normally  a person who takes care of everything and everybody. It is not easy to help strangers though. Even so, when I needed it most, someone else listened to the small voice in their heart that showed them what to do  and did it.

IMG_0292 sunnyI do believe in angels, and if this was fiction I would have given this persons an added glow. They were humans though, as I am, given new possibilities every day to give a gift of comfort to a passing stranger.

IMG_2808 light