Saturday, June 24, 2006

You can actually choose

Right now, today, reading the newspaper in the still rather quiet bookstore that I work in, something struck me: I have a choice.

I was reading along in the weekend magazine that accompanies one of the larger Norwegian newspapers when I felt saturated and suffocated by the never ending messages about how to have a good time. How to dress the table in order to have the best summer party, how to decorate your home in the coziest fashion, how to dress for late, light summer nights, what to cook for your ten dinner guests for the garden party (that evereyone seemingly desperately longs to throw), in short: How to live life best.

Well, I have to protest. I have to take a moment and feel into my own chest - is this right for me? Do I believe in this popular mythology? It is so easy to be swept away and into a set of thoughts and mental images about how one is supposed to live one's life. And I realized now, more than ever before, how easy it is to just follow the lights in the aisle, to trot down the trodden path. I realized that in some dimension I had actually started believing in the most prominent ideas and images about how life is best led.

I have to mention, here, that my country lies so far north that when summer arrives, we all run outside and try to spend as much time there as we possibly can, and when fall comes we can hopefully say that we haven't stayed in more than what is strictly necessary for sleeping and other natural reasons... Or is this just a national myth as well? Can it be that the people who are living this myth are the most boisterous and loud and therefore the most visible, making their truths the most "real" truths, also for the rest of the population? I don't have the answer to that. But in my case, the shipper of the easy, rosy, lace-lined way of living was my mother. So I have been indoctrinated with this view for a long time. And, you know, she believes it; her way of having a good time is making a good meal, meeting friends for light, unchallenging chats, doing a little work around the house, tending her flowers and generally having a good time. And it works for her, it is enough. But - and this is something I sensed during childhood, this doesn't do it for me! I like to investigate things, to delve into the depths, to figure out why things are as they are, to understand the principle of just anything, be it human interaction, why this novel is better than that, what this author is actually saying, what happens when we think, what do we believe in and why, and so forth (for ever more).

It was such a revelation to see this! A relief! To just understand that I can actually live the life I would like to, without having to feel guilty that I am not living up to the flower-patterned "ideal" that penetrates the public set of ideals in this country.

I am sure my husband will be pleased to hear me say this. He has hinted, I now undersand, about this for some time. For as long as we have known each other, I believe. Hmm. Some catch things slower than others.

And, again, I feel I have to say that my mother's interpretation of what is a good life certainly is a good one, and I can understand why that is what she chooses for herself. But it isn't what I am searching for in this life. It is as simple as that.

Have a good Saturday!
(And choose to live it the way you like.)


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