Good news for collectors who want to lead a more minimalistic lifestyle. I am that one. I love collecting things but the life lately is giving me lessons of minimalism. Yesterday I discovered this: going on a photo hunt and finding items that match my search theme can give the same good feeling as when I do lucky shopping. It is not always about things, but about that happy hormone shooting through my brain. Maybe, it is the same mechanism – the joy of the collector’s reward :))
Yesterday I was on the color hunt and I hope to share my findings here soon. Today I want to share my collection of numbers gathered around Oslo. This is a feature of such collections – I want to display them. Luckily, the blog can be that spot. So, no more words – just numbers!
There are days when I get so happy seeing different small things – and then I sit down and list them. Under the title “reasons for happiness”. The autumn sun in my window, the violet flowers on the balcony, the green plants inside, yoga in the morning, a pink coffee cup with a cactus on it…
There are days when I feel neither up or down. Somewhere inbetween, like today. Maybe, it is the sign of autumn, because I feel as my usual enthusiasm goes down to rest, together with the light and temperature. I had a short walk in my neighborhood and was thinking about a new blog post. Post about 5 things has been a while ago. A very long while ago. What can I write there? And then suddenly I start listing all the nice things I see and feel around.
I like the colorful facades of my neighborhood. I like my red coat. I like the smell of fresh pastry from the kiosk. That lovely corner with a cafe, flower shop and a hipster coffee bar. That older man from the flower shop, careful about detail, who once sold me a bouquet of eucalyptus. The freshly painted frame of a barber shop, now in bright yellow. A guy on the orange Vespa. The fact that Vespas are still on the streets.
I am a firm believer that the art of life is created by small steps. Small habits, small adjustments. I have never been a fan of resolutions like “From Monday on I start a new life”, but advocated for the small changes one can make – first as an experiment – in order to change one’s quality of life.
I believe in the health and happiness that start from the inside out – from our mind and soul. I have tried to set big goals for myself, like meditating for 20 minutes every day, but I struggled to keep it as a daily routine. However, the small practices seem to stick with me. Today I want to share those that work for me.
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 I want to share my last year’s memories from our trip to Drøbak. It is a town where Santa Claus (julenisse) has his official address in Norway. The town has the post office of Santa Claus that takes itself of all letters addressed to him. As the year is closing by, I wish I could send a thank-you note to Santa Claus (with a wish list attached), but right now my energy is just enough to share those images and memories. Trying to keep up my humor in December turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. As we entered the darkest week of the year, I found myself lying flat with the flu and fever, and I can’t remember the last time I felt so bad. Though the previous week was full of positive events, I always find it so difficult to think positive in the time of sickness.
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.