Once I fell in love with the notion of Experimental Life (introduced by Jonathan Fields on my favorite podcast The Good Life Project). It proposes to see our projects not in the terms of succeeding/failing but in terms of an experiment: whatever outcome is, you have collected some data. This gives a kinder perspective on what we use to call “mistakes”. And it also encourages me to test different lifestyle habits without letting it define me. Last year I had an experiment of doing a social media detox and I wrote about it here – later also I went off Instagram for three months. Now I want to share why I did it and what I have learnt from it.
Norwegians love to ask the newcomers to their country: “Do you like it in Norway?” (“Trives du I Norge?” which reminds of “do you thrive?”). Which is a difficult question because it doesn’t leave you an option. Well, not really 🙂 Saying no would be rude. And it also would call for a reaction “so why do you stay if you don’t like it?” So, you say yes. I used to say yes with a feeling that I am lying. I could not honestly answer that I like it here, but what could I say? After some years I used to answer “yes” more honestly but still halfheartedly. I would usually say: “Yes, I like it here. After you build your life here, you have more friends and you like it more”.
Norwegians are sweet in this curiosity. In a way they still feel that theirs is a little country up in the North and why would someone come and stay here? It is also a common question if you begin in a new job, they would ask “do you like it?” (trives du?). But it took me many years to accept this question. I felt like I was suffering from the loneliness for quite a long time here and it colored my experience of the country. And even after I got some friends I felt like a lone fighter in this cold landscape, having no one to count on but myself. The struggles were many, and leaving for home was not an option for me.
In the solitude of the laboratory a researcher raises her head from the microscope, eyes looking for the answer. The solemn voice in the background says: “Since the beginning of the ages we have asked the same question…What are we gonna have for dinner?” This is a Norwegian tv commercial advertising a series of readymade meals in the local food store. Funny but true. In Norway the question we ask ourselves and each other the most is this: what shall we have for dinner? A luxury problem, as they say it in Norwegian. But jokes aside, what is the most important question in our lives?
Since the beginning of ages we have asked ourselves the same question… Let me propose my version. We have asked ourselves about what it means to live a good life. What does it take to be happy? Plato starts his dialogues with the conversation of Socrates about what virtue is. Because, let’s agree, a good life is not only good food and travel, but it has also a moral bit. That old idea that you cannot be happy by being bad. That ethics is in the base of the happiness. In my eyes, the philosophers of Ancient Greece were at the core of the most important question. Talking about what is ethics, aesthetics, what is noble and what is beautiful. Too sad that in ages to come the philosophy became an intellectual game, with so much logics and theories and so little guidance about the most important question in life.
Today it was snowing again. I went for a walk – to get some fresh air and to see some colors. And where do we get it here? Right, shopping 😊 While it is winter outside, it is spring in the shops. As I had mentioned before, the shops this year exploded with shades of pink and red. Which made my girly heart aflutter.
So today I went on a color hunt/color study – an idea I got from the book “A Paris Year” by Janice MacLeod (and she got this idea in her turn from another artist and photographer). The point is: you choose a color and then go out searching for it. Last year I did something like that when I dedicated to collect all things yellow. Suddenly they were popping everywhere. It was a fun way to wait for the spring. Today my goal was: pink!
I love pink. I never had a Barbie in my life. I was born in Soviet Union, and the Barbies arrived only aftee its fall. I was 12 then, I wanted a Barbie to make clothes for her, but in my family the scarce money could not be spent on dolls. Because of that I never got too much of pink, and when Austrians laughed of Barbie pink, when I lived in Austria, I secretly loved it. I still love it. And seeing it on trend this year makes me joyful. Our eyes get so tired of shy Scandinavian colors like gray and beige, and in winter there is too much of dark color. But when fashion gods said to wear red and romantic, Norwegians obeyed. Suddenly the streets were more like in the South, with red coats, floating ruffles and embroidered pieces. And now – pink. Lovely, just lovely.
I love writing gratitude lists to the leaving year and usually I use the first week of January for that. I also write visions for the new year (but not New year resolutions), plans and goals. As much as I love those activities, I never used to share them on the blog because that would feel like bragging to me. I am often concerned about the literature value, hehe. Like: “what would the reader get out of it?” However, doing the post about the best pictures and moments of 2017 felt so right to me – and I hope, that it felt like a positive sparkle to you. So I just have to complete that list and share the rest of that year – in pics and highlights!
Yesterday I was re-reading the horoscope for 2017 which promised that this year would be one of my most favorite years. Well, what can I say? They didn’t lie :). The leaving year has been amazing for me. And as the December rain is washing the rest of that year away, I decided to look back and pick my most favorite photos and the best moments of this fabulous year.
My favorite picture of the winter 2017 is this shot from Barceloneta, a beach neighborhood in Barcelona. This is how February in Barcelona looks like: sunny and bright, and surfing boards blending in with the winter coats. I love this game of outfits and meanings, and I hope that my life will be more like this: the sea, the sun and the colors, and surfing easy among winter-clad people.
Only 13 days until the sun will turn. I wait for that day more than for Christmas. Here in Norway the winter is called mørketida, which means “the dark time”. And I came to realize that it is not the cold which is the most difficult in winter (now it is not cold at all), but the darkness. I grew up in Ukraine with cold winters – and I never complained about winters. But I grew up with the longer light day. And here what keeps me down is the light day from 9am till 3am. If we can call it light. Some days feel just light nights, or early evenings. November this year has been amazingly full of light. Little rain, a lot of sunshine. And I kept through thinking: “um, this is not so bad, I got used to Norway”. But December hit me with the short dark days and long darker nights, and I feel like a half of myself.
And this is what I like the least. Not the biting cold wind, or icy streets, or late sunrises, or no sunrises. But this version of myself. I feel reduced to 50%, like I am on the season sale already 🙂 I love that bubbly Marina that I know from summer. The one that is possible in sunnier place even in December. But this one, tired, sick, complaining – this version of myself I don’t like. But let us not stop here. Here I have stopped so many times in my life. I have pitched a tent in this place and lived there for a long period. Until I learnt: this doesn’t work. This doesn’t help. And if I don’t want to go down that road again, I have to find something that helps.