Sunday, November 28, 2010

Swedish Christmas Traditions I

It's now 4PM and the temperature is holding steady at -2 degrees Celcius. Powder light snow corns are circling peacefully in the air and the light of the day is now a memory. My head is throbbing with pain of an approaching migraine, but I swollowed a painkiller and endure it; this Sunday marks the beginning of the coziest of the Swedish holidays. Four weeks of warm hearth fires, hot chocolate and mum's Christmas bread lies ahead. No other holiday is so full of joy as this one; no other holiday brings families and friends together than this one.

Christmas season generally starts around 1st of Advent, the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. The word advent derrives from the latin word adventus, meaning "arrival" which indicates the coming of the Lord. Sometime during the 1930's the Swedes started to hang Advent stars in their windows, a tradition coming from Germany and symbolizes the star of Betlehem that lead the three wise men to the child Jesus. On this Sunday, a candlestick with four candles start to decorate the Swedish homes and the first candle is lit. Every Sunday until Christmas, one more candle is lit. An electrical candlestick is placed in the windows, usually with seven candles in the shape of an upturned V. Traditionally, lights are lit in the windows around this time to light up the way for people on their way to the early Christmas-morning services in church.

At the same time the "Julskyltning" starts, a word that could be translated as "Display Sunday" and refers to the time when shops start to decorate their windows for Christmas. Where I live, in a small village in the south-western parts of the country, this is an important and popular occurence. There aren't many shops in the village, but this has been compensated with a small fair, with lotteries, sale of traditional hot mull wine and gingerbread biscuits and a Santa parade which ends with Santa Claus himself is giving out sweets to the little ones.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Independence for Western Sahara

Outside Laayoune, Western Sahara

The Moroccans are a proud people, with a relatively open society that is steadily moving towards a just legal system and acceptance of diversity, except on one matter. If you're planning of going there, I only have one advice; do not discuss the status of Western Sahara unless you're prepared for a heated argument. The opinion of the rest of the world lean towards the recognition of the area as an independent state, but in Morocco, even the most educated and aware people refuse to accknowledge the suppression of hundered thousands of people.

The region had been under Spanish rule for almost a hundered years when the International Court of Justice in 1975 decided to reject Morocco's and Mauretania's claims of the territory. Spain agreed to arrange a referendum, as the International Court of Justice recognized the Saharawis' right to self-determination. But Morocco countered with the "Green March", sending 300.000 Moroccans into the territory for settlement. But the Moroccans' version of the story is a tiny bit different:

On the 6th of November 1975, civilian Moroccans marched across Moroccan Sahara seeking independence from Spain. This was known as the "Green March", because green symbolised peace. Spain finally came to an agreement with Morocco for independence of Moroccan Sahara.

This happening forced Spain to a settlement with Morocco and Mauretania - the Madrid Agreement. Morocco got two thirds in the north and Mauretania got the left-overs, ending the Spanish colonial rule. A couple of months later, the Polisario declared the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Two years later, the Mauretanian government made a peace deal with Polisario after a coup, and resigned all territorial claims, resulting in further Moroccan occupation.

Guerilla wars between Polisario and Morocco occured until 1991 and an attempted referendum lead by the United Nations Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara  (MINURSO) failed. Talks and negotiations between different parties have been an ongoing process ever since, without any progress. A couple of weeks ago blood was shed during a clash between Moroccan security forces and what was reputedly preaceful protesters near Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara. The protesters had gathered at a camp outside the city to protest against the harsh Moroccan rule and were raided by the Moroccan army and police. Some 20.000 Sahrawis had gathered at the camps for over a month, mostly ignored by the press. According to Morocco, 10 out of 12 dead belonged to the security forces. Polisario however, claims that 20 died and around 1000 were wounded in the clash. Spain are now accusing Morocco for war crimes against humanity.

The situation today according to Morocco is as follows:

Although Moroccan Sahara gained independence from Spanish control, a small group known as "Polisario" (supported by the Algerian government and some communist countries throuout the cold war), refused to be governed by Morocco. This led to many Moroccan Saharawi civilians being kidnapped by the Polisario, taken to Tindouf in Algeria and kept as refugees.
Although some have managed to escape and return to Morocco, many are still under the control of  the Polisario and Algerian government.

The UN recognize Polisario as the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people. The EU, although not recognizing the SADR, supports the right of self-determination of the Sahrawi people, but does not recognize the Polisario front. The African Union (AU) fully recognize the SADR. The Arab League supports Morocco's claims of the region.

Whichever way you look at it (and I'm not going to write down more things that can be googled) it's clear that neither Morocco or Polisario are playing clean - crimes have been committed on both sides. Rabat is currently offering Western Sahara autonomy, but Polisario are still demanding a referendum for complete independence. The region is occupied, there is no better term for it, and it is my opinion that Morocco should recognize this and give the Western Sahara the independence they have sought for so long. It is my wish that the people of Morocco will realize this, have the courage to stand up and put pressure on the government.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How one Person can Change the World

"I've got power!"

Billions of people live their lives convinced that their actions are insignificant, that there is no way that a single person's choices can actually change anything. Those billions of people are wrong, and this is my attempt of proving just that.

Once upon a time, a boy was born into a colonialized country. His childhood was ordinary, maybe with the exception of having an influential politician as a father. He got the chance to study in London and work in South Africa, where he experienced discrimination, racism and prejudice first hand and helped form a movement to improve the rights of his people. During a mass protest against the discriminating laws, he called for a non-violent protest and acceptance of punishment when defying the law. His concept spread and he was soon an influential representative for his home country, where he returned to, among other things, help his people to independence. His weapon was a non-cooperative, non-violent and peaceful resistance which became widespread throughout the society. Violence occured, however, and he was imprisoned for two years. A few years later, in a protest against the tax of salt, he begun his 388 km long march to make salt himself. Thousands followed him and the act upset the government, resulting in 60.000 political prisoners who was later released. During the following years, the man got arrested, went on a six day fast, almost got assassinated three times, fasted for 21 days in protest, got arrested again and was finally shot dead during a prayer meeting. The country was finally liberated from the British and his name is closely associated with the accomplishment. His name was Mohandas Karamchad Gandhi.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Agnes Gonxa Bojaxhiu was born in Skopje, Macedonia, in 1910. At an early age she felt a spiritual calling and joined the Loreto Sisters, a Catholic order, and was eventually sent as a missionary in India. There, she noticed the poverty in the slum and wanted to do something about it. She didn't have any money, so she started an outdoor school for children in the slum and soon got both volunteers and funds. With the funds, she expanded the charity, reaching the elders and the lepers as well as abandoned and orphaned children. Her goodness and her felt duty to mankind was always unselfish and her charity is now spread throughout the world with funds from all over, including the Vatican. Today she is known as Mother Teresa.

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
- Mother Teresa 

Born into a wealthy Swedish family, a man became a diplomat in Budapest, Hungary. Together with a fellow diplomat, he rented 32 buildings throughout the city, declaring them extraterritorial, protected by diplomatic immunity. In these buildings, he secretly provided shelter to around 10.000 Jews and providing them with passports, rescuing them from the Holocaust. In 1945 he was suspected of being a spy for the USA and was called to a Soviet military commander. Two months later he was announced dead, killed by either the Cross Arrow Party or the Gestapo, but his death was suspicious. In 2000, a Soviet historian and politician announced that the man had been executed in 1947 in Lubyanka prison. The hero's name was Raoul Wallenberg.

If people have such great expectations, then it can only help them. From their faith and confidence, they'll gain the strength to resist. If they believe the passes are legitimate and powerful, then they may convince others, even the police, that they're powerful.
- Raoul Wallenberg

In 1948, a young man interested in boxing and running, became active in politics opposing a law that segregated blacks from whites in his home country. As a lawyer, he and a collegue started a law firm providing free or next to free services for black people that lacked attorney representation. He initially adapted Gandhi's concept of non-violence resistance and was arrested for treason along with 150 others but later became leader of an armed wing of the left-wing party, arranging sabotage of military and government targets (even guerilla wars should this fail) in an attempt to end the segregation. He was imprisoned for 27 years, during which his reputation as a black leader grew. In 1990 he was released from prison, a happening that was broadcasted all over the world, and returned to the leadership of the party. Four years later his party won the election, making him the country's first black president. His name is Nelson Mandela and recieved the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

A man does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.
- Nelson Mandela 

People like these live among us today. They could be your neighbours - they could be you. All it takes to make a difference, big or small, is a committment to change what you think is wrong, not for the sake of fame or recognition, but for the sake of the goodness in your heart. Think of your word or action as a snowball that you start to roll from a high mountain top. In the beginning you won't see much difference, but after a while the ball will grow larger and larger, ending up in a huge globe that will take down anything in its way; buildings and forests, whole villages. It doesn't take much. A single world of solidarity, or an argumenting against something unjust, can be that small push that will cause the snowball to roll.

Still not convinced? Check this out:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Shall Rise

In 2007 Mattafix released this song, "Living Darfur", to raise funds and awareness of the situation of the war stricken, torn and suffering people in the western parts of Sudan. The video was shot in eastern Chad on the border of Darfur and was funded by Mick Jagger. More than 200.000 people have died in the conflicts and over one million have been forced away from their homes. Whole villages have been burned and the UN have accused pro-government Arab militia for ethnic cleansing against non-Arab locals.

What's going on in Darfur has been called genocide, although too few people are aware of the seriousness of the situation. My heart is breaking for the suffering people that have lost their families and friends, forced away from their homes and suppressed by the government. It's unbelievable that something like this can happen today. We've said "never again" so many times that words turned empty. We don't need more words, written agreements and peace talk. What we need, is action.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Culture Crashes

There's been a lot of talk about Sweden's  failure in integrating its immigrants. Some blame it solely on the Swedes, that they are discriminating and unsympathetic. This may be true, but it's only one reason of a complex situation. To get a better understanding of the difficulties of integration into a new society, all you have to do is to travel abroad, to any country which some of the immigrants are representing in our society. The only societies outside of Sweden that I can claim to have some kind of knowledge about is Morocco and Sudan, in which the latter is the one that is furthest away from my own.

When I found out that I was going to Sudan, it was on pretty short notice, but I did my best to get as prepared as possible. Except for the traditional travel preparations like basic phrases, some 15 different vaccinations, passport and the like, I did some reading about the culture. I was already aware of the culture crashes I would experience, although I didn't have a clear picture of which these crashes would be. Which ever way I looked, I always ended up focusing on the Muslim society. I had never lived in one before and had all the expectations, fears and prejudices that everyone else has that don't have a closer knowledge of it. I was going to the capital, Khartoum, and was a 100% sure that I would have to cover my hair whenever I stepped out of the house, that I shouldn't look men in the eye and that I couldn't discuss politics or religion as such.

I landed on a midnight in the end of August. It was some 40 degrees Celcius, humid and a minor sand storm, haboob, was brushing my face. We went straight to the house, which had lost the electricity because of the haboob and it wasn't until the next morning that I got to see where I had landed. I wanted a cold drink, so nervously I covered up, wrapped my head in a scarf, carefully tucking in all visible hair strands, and went out to look for the closest shop. The houses in the neighbourhood were all secured with high walls and guards, the dust road was uneven and the sun was merciless and - everyone was looking at me. 

Not long after, when I had befriended several westerners in the area, I learned that it wasn't required to cover your hair, at least not for a westerner. Looking a man in the eye or shaking his hand was usually not a problem either. Sure, there were those that were more conservative than others, but those were a minority. Basically I learned that most of the things I had expected and feared about this society, weren't true at all. 

The conclusion is that even though I eventually found my place in the Sudanese society, accepted and got accepted, I never got integrated. True, I didn't live there long enough to get the chance to fully integrate and I didn't have time to learn the language fluently. And truth his, even if I would have had the chance, I don't think I'd ever be able to integrate fully. I would, of course, follow the laws, live among them, befriend them and love them, but I would never become a Sudanese. But what's more important is that it wouldn't matter, because I would be accepted anyways. Even if I would never be exactily like those who were born there, they would still see me as an equal and welcome me into their society. So, if the immigrants in Sweden do the same, which most of them do, why can't we treat them the same way as they would treat us?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sudan - Love thy Neighbour!

In January 2011 there is planned to be held a referendum for independence for Southern Sudan, but the UN and various NGOs are already stocking up emergency equipment and food, preparing for conflicts. The chances are big that the referendum will either be delayed, or that the results of it will cause the peace agreements to be jeapordized. It's very likely that the Christian south will vote for independence and many are thought to vote in protest of the Muslim-ruled Khartoum government. I even think that it's likely that there will be pre-election conflicts; the shed of blood because of peoples' insecurities before the results. The Muslim north are afraid of loosing control over the oil rich south, and the Christian south are afraid of the north to not let them go no matter of the government's promises of respecting the outcome of the election.

It's a tense situation already and it's not likely that it will get less so. I'm still hoping of being able to go there to write my final thesis in pedagogy, but if things go as experts have predicted, it doesn't seem like a very good idea. Maybe things would be less violent in Khartoum, if a conflict would rise, but it's still an uncertain situation. Protests and demonstrations will probably not be very peaceful and there are bound to be deaths in even the safest places in the country. 

It breakes my heart. A country that has already seen so much suffering and death are now balancing on the border of yet another civil war. I hope with everything I have, that the weight will tip the mass to the right side of the border of peace and war, and that no more lives will be lost because of something that should be the beginning of a new, peaceful chapter. Sudan could be the good example for neghbouring countries to follow. This could end so well, yet history seems to repeat itself. UN are stocking up with food supplies in critical areas and Ban Ki-moon says that the potential for "unintended conflict" is high.

My dear, beloved Sudanese friends: Show the world the goodness of people. Be patient and consequent, love your country and everyone in it, Christian or Muslim, oil-rich or not. A new border is not something that should cause death and suffering to your neighbours, or yourself. If the south votes for independence, then be happy that a just, democratic election was seen through and that the masses got to have their say. Share the oil supplies fairly and continue to love one another. But don't take anything out in advance. The outcome of the election is yet to be shown.

Practice what you preach; your religion is one of peace.
Muhammed said: Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.
Jesus said: Love thy neighbour.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sweden - Not so Perfect

"A helping hand"

According to Newsweek, Sweden is the world's third best country to live in. Many thinks of the Swedish society as an idyll, and that for many good reasons; you can express your thoughts and feelings however you want, you can criticize the government openly, demonstrate against what you think is wrong. You can be openly bi- or homosexual, practice any religion you want to, have the right to form and join work unions. Marriage is not a necessity to form a family, nor is it an issue to be a single parent. Anyone can study at the university - and get a student's loan. If you get sick, you get sickness benefits. When you become a parent, you get parental allowance and if you loose your job you either get unemployment benefits or social assistance - you don't have to worry about becoming homeless or go hungry.

It's agreed that it's hard to find many societies as free and democratic as the Swedish, but to what cost? Mayhap Sweden is a paradise, but how are the government and major companies using this concept? I have listed a few publicly disclosures that may change your view of the perfectness of Sweden:

  • Lundin Oil is blamed for contributing to the vicious civil war in southern Sudan when they decided to explore and extract oil from an area called Block 5A, which triggered a bloody fight for control over the area between 1997 and 2003. The company is accused for knowing of the war crimes they have caused; ranging from mass rapes to people being forced to displacement.
  • Saab signs a 4,5 billion kronor deal with Saudi Arabia this fall. This specific deal was concerning advanced early warning radar systems. Military products were also sent in March, April and May, most of which were classified as combat material, which can include "missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, etc." A subsidiary, Saab Bofors Dynamics, were earlier in the year reported to have sold anti-tank missiles to the same country. “We’re talking about one of the world’s worst dictatorships. We can’t send weapons to dictatorships that should be buying food instead,” Green Party defence policy spokesperson Peter Rådberg says.
  • WikiLeaks publishes a document revealing Swedish weapons to be used in the war in Iraq, not only by Americans against the Iraqis, but also the other way around. WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, was denied recidence permit in Sweden earlier this year.
  • Furniture company IKEA are revealed to use child labour in the Philippines and Vietnam in 1997.
  • Managers from Scania, a truck making company, are charged for violating United Nations sanctions for being part of bribing the former Iraqi regime of Sadam Hussein. The bribes paid reached millions of Swedish kronor.
  • Atlas Copco Group is a mining equipment and services supplier that have been accused of repeatedly violating human and environmental rights and standards. "NGOs have charged that AGC has forcibly evicted, persecuted and killed local villagers, destroyed villages and destroyed water and agricultural land by discharging cyanide and other heavy metals." says OECD Watch.
  • Clothing giant H&M use certified organic cotton that isn't actually organic, making the company guilty of fraud. They also got a lot of criticizm for discarding unused clothing instead of giving it away to charity.
You can continue to dig and search for corruption and violations and certainly find whatever you're looking for and I'm aware of that this small list is somewhat to pull information out of it's context. But my point with this is that even though something seems good, even perfect, there is always room for improvement. This applies to everything in life and I think it's a good rule to live by; don't ever take things for granted.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Self Punishing Drama Queens

If one wonders why I keep on publishing less than polite comments in my blog, it's because I don't feel the need to hide anything. True, I have chosen to not publish a few, comments that shed a bad light on my person and the people around me, but the rest are out in the open. As I've stated earlier; I refuse to be censured and will not censure others unless I have a very good reason to. This is after all, my blog, where I choose the contents and write about what's in my heart and on my mind. No one is forced to read it, and if one for some reason would feel bad/sad/upset/annoyed/insert any other negative emotion, then I suggest you simply forget the address and stop reading right here. 

I'm living my life in honesty. Days of denial and lies belong to the past - they lead nowhere but downhill. I have had my fair amount of people around me that have seemed to be drawn to any kind of drama - anything to relieve them of their dull every day life. These are people that gossip, fish for information (true or false) and keep on punishing themselves by doing things that really don't make them feel any better at all. They read their partner's texts and emails, they tell all their friends about their suspected alcoholic neighbor, they keep track on their exes and devote their lives to make life hell for anyone that don't want to share their drama.

This blog has turned into a soap opera - far from my initial intentions, and for that I appologize. I'm partly guilty for it, for I have encouraged the drama by trying to "defend" myself from stupid and meaningless comments. By giving them the attention, I have encouraged them to continue. I'm aware of the consequences this post might have, but my point in writing this is simply to state that I'm done. No more of that. I'll continue to publish comments if I find them suitable, but I will not reply to rude or impolite comments.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Modern Layla and Majnun - Part II

If you haven't already, read A Modern Layla and Majnun - Part I first. Now, let's continue the story...

On the return to Sweden, the woman went straight to looking for an apartment that they both could be happy in. The man was still in Sudan, but on a cold October night he stepped out of the airplane in Stockholm. A new chapter of their lives had just begun.

Shortly after their longed for reunion, the woman, who had suffered from depressions for many years, was again stricken with the dark cloud of angst. It became more and more difficult for her to see through it and eventually she ended up blind to the world's happiness. She was so blinded by her angst that she failed to see the slow fall of her beloved. The man was new to the country and the culture. He didn't understand a word of what was being said in the streets and his pride took a punch when he realized how difficult it would be to get a job in this cold country. 

The relationship was going down and neither the woman or man had the strength to save it. One cold evening, about a year after he first arrived to Sweden, he went to the bus station and left.

Three years went by. They met occationally and the atmosphere were always tensed. The tension sometimes escalated to hate. The man was upset with the way the woman lived her life, and the woman was upset because she thought that it no longer was his concern.

Then one day, the man decided to leave Sweden. Since he had developed a good relationship with the woman's family, he came to visit more frequently now that he knew that it might be a long time that he could see them again, if ever. The woman, who realized that the man was about to leave for good, slowly started to soften to his words. The days grew closer to the departure, and with that, the angst of again loosing him. He had, after all, always been close. She had known that she could see him more or less whenever she wanted to, but now, that was about to change.

The night before the departure, there was an explosion of emotions. The air in the room, where the man and woman was sitting, was literally static with electricity and so thick that you could cut it with a knife. Although they hardly even touched, just sat and looked at eachother and ocationally talked about nonsense, a long lost connection was rebuild. Their souls entwined, their hearts beat the same rythm and a blessing was laid upon them. It said: you will meet again.

To be continued at a later date...

A Modern Layla and Majnun - Part I

Layla sits dreaming of her lost love
Layla and Majnun is based on the true stories of the Bedouin poet Qays ibn al-Mulawwah ibn Muzahim and Layla bint Mahdi ibn Sa'd. The story tells of a 7th century A.D young poet called Qays, who falls in love with a girl born in a rich family from the same tribe.  In his poems he proclaimed his love for her and asked her father for her hand. Even though Qays and Layla had grown up together, and they both loved each other dearly, the father refused since Qays wasn't wealthy enough. Soon after Layla is given to another man in marriage, whom took her to the area of today's Iraq, got ill and eventually died.

The name Layla means "night" in arabic, which some people believe to mean that the couple in secrecy continued their relationship. The name Majnun means "a crazy person", which became his name after he went mad for being refused to marry Layla.

Qays left his tribe to wonder the desert as a wild man and became known as Majnun. He was later found dead in the wilderness in 688 AD, near an unknown woman's grave. Three verses of poetry was carvedon a rock close to the grave. According to the Persian Nezami's version of the story, Layla and Majnun meets for the last time before their deaths. Both have fainted and Majnun's elderly messenger attemptsto revive Layla while wild animals protect the couple from unwelcomed intruders. 

Here's my adaption of my own story of Layla and Majnun:

The merciless heat of the Sudanese summer was coming to an end when the woman sat in a bumby raksha on her way through the dusty gravel roads to her first day at work. She was going to be a consultant for a small organization that were removing land mines from the country side. Her main task was going to be to teach English to the local staff in the main office. Among the locals was a man. His eyes were constantly glowing, and when he was smiling, he did it with his whole face. The woman was a khawadja, a westerner, and the man was a Sudanese arab.

The friendship was soon to arrive, and after came the relationship. Despite cultural and religious differences they managed to make the difficulties to challanges to be overcome. Love had showed her pretty face.

The woman's family, who was in Sweden, were not too happy about the relationship. They were worried about his religion. Many westerners have prejudices about arabs and her family was no exceptions. They thought that in case of a marriage, he would force her to become a muslim, kidnap their children and bring them back to Sudan, that he would beat her and abuse her in other ways. His family was cautious too. The woman had to endure a long list of questions about her values and plans for the future. The questioning though, lead to the woman being accepted by the family and the relationship could now be official.

The man went to a mission in Darfur, a huge area in the south-western parts of the country that is known for war, conflicts, rapes, burning of entire villages, huge refugee camps, death, misery and kidnapping... The man, who was there on mission for a different organization, was kidnapped with his collegue by rebels, accused of working for the government. All connection with the man was broken and no one heard from him in almost two weeks. The woman was inconsolable. Her eyes were constantly filled with tears and the horror and worry that she felt was indescribable. 

The UN had finally managed to negotiate with the rebels to free them. A few days later the man arrived back in the capital. Without respect of the prohibition of showing affection in public, the man and woman threw themselves in each others arms, kissed and cried of joy and relief. An engagement was settled and the man's family threw them a combined welcome home and engagement party. A few days later the woman had to leave her beloved fiancé and return to Sweden.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Africa in my Heart

When I was a child, my uncle was a sailor. He travelled the world and a few months later he came home with small gifts and great stories. I could sit and listen to these stories for ages and the once that fascinated me the most was those of the wilderness, where song and dance colors the garment that the locals wear. I loved to listen to how different things were there, how happy people were, even if they barely had food and clean water for the day. Needless to say, my uncle became my great role model.

At that time, my affection for Africa was born. I was still a child when I felt the need of going there. Maybe I lived in Africa in a previous life, and my uncle was the one who reminded me of it. I don't know, but from then on, I knew that one day I will move to Africa.

I'm not there yet. Yes, I've visited Sudan and Morocco for a few months each, but that wasn't enough. I want to find that perfect place, in the coutskirts of a city, close by white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. I want to make friends with the wonderful people that always has a smile on their faces even when they suffer. I want to climb the mountains, camp in the wilderness, trekk in the jungles and dive the deep blue, full of colourful fishes, dolphines, whales and sharks. One day I will find that place, me and the love of my life.

So thank you, dear uncle, for showing me the path that is so right for me. I'll forever be greateful and I trust in your lifestyle. Because after all the traveling you made, you found the place of your dreams; the breathtaking Iceland. And if you move onwards to different locations, then I know that that too is what you're meant to do.

I know we've had a fall out, you and me, but I hope from the bottom of my heart and soul that our relationship will develop into what it used to be. I love you and your wonderful family.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Second of Fame

 WTactics is "a truly free strategy tabletop game played with cards, and also playable online if a friend isn't nearby". One of the developers, a very dear friend of mine, asked if I would like to have a character on one of the cards. So I sent some pictures of me, explained what kind of clothes and powers I would like to have. He then sent it to the wonderful artist and in a few weeks the work copy was sent back to me. 

I'm so happy about it and really look forward to seeing the complete game when it's done. If you're into strategy game cards, then I suggest that you join their page on Facebook: They also greatly appreciate donations, since the development of the game and art of course takes resourses.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Solitude - Part III

A German-American theologian and philosopher by the name of Paul Tillich (1886-1965) explained the difference between solitude and loneliness like this:

Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.

After reading this, I decided that it probably would be a good subject to discuss concerning the previous two texts in the Solitude-series. After I realized that I had basically lost all my friends, I most definitely felt lonely, and that loneliness was in no sense a good one. I dwelled in the situation, mourned what was lost, at my failiours and at my fate. I hated life. I didn't see the point in continue living without my friends, without anyone. My family was there of course, but I simply took them for granted and didn't realize that I never would be lonely as long as I had them. The English biologist and politican John Lubbock (1834-1913) said that:

The whole value of solitude depends upon one's self; it may be a sanctuary or a prison, a haven of repose or a place of punishment, a heaven or a hell, as we ourselves make it.

So I most certainly chose my own hell and for a long time, that's where I lived. But then one day I woke up and realized something (some would call it an insight). I realized that sure, I lost my friends, but it wasn't by my hand. The situation I was in at the time of loosing them forced this to happen. Of course it wasn't what I wanted, but it happened and now I have to deal with it. Then I heard the laughter from downstairs (I was staying at mum's place at the time) and realized that I'm not lonely at all! 

In this society, it's considered wierd not to have friends. And sure, I still have a handfull of people I treasure deeply and are honored to call my friends, but they are scattered around the world and I have no possibility to meet them or even talk to them as much as I would like to. But what's most important is that I'm not that lonely after all. I have people to talk to when I'm sad. Most people may go to a friend for advice. I go to my sister. Some people have girls' nights out, I drink beer with my brothers.

I'm not going to lie. I miss having friends, I really do. And I wish that sometimes, just sometimes, I would be invited to one of those girls' nights out, even if I can't come. Being asked to join feels just as important as to actually join. But I also know that new people will enter my life and that some of them will be my friends. The worst you can do is to actually look for them. Better to give it time. The right people always show up when you expect it the least.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Solitude - Part II

The many questions
Being isolated and in solitude rises a lot of questions inside you, like why your friends left you when you needed them the most, how can you get them back or are they even worth trying to get back? How are you supposed to live a life without your friends, is it possible to get new ones? And if so, how? What do they really think of you, those few friends that you have left? Do they think I'm a pain in the ass or that I'm one of those energy stealers?

Those who left
People don't think like you. You would be very lucky (or unlucky) to meet someone that thinks just like you do. The first thing you need to learn, is that other people have their limits too, not just you. They may have their limits for different reasons than you. Maybe they don't have time for a sadass that never smiles or can go out partying with you. Maybe they want to help you, be there for you, but don't know how. Instead they withdraw.

Those people, however hard it is to loose them, are in your past. You lost your friends, for whatever reason, but in most cases it wasn't by choice. If I could have done things differently, I certainly wood. But I couldn't. I really couldn't. I was busy surviving and that was my priority. And to all my former friends: I understand. I understand why I had to be excluded, I really do. Everyone has different reasons and I'm sure yours were just as good as mine were.

Now what?
Those who are still there, are worth every piece of gold there is out there. They will stay with you, no matter what. They have seen you at your lowest and at your worst and they have been there those days when things seems a little brighter. In my case it's my family (including Linda and Khalid), Anna, Frida and Jakob. Even if they're few, even if they live far away and you don't get to see or talk to them as much as you would like, they mean everything. These people are the key to getting out of this.

You think you're alone? Look again. There are people all around you that truly cares about you and wants to be there for you. Yes, I lost most of my friends, but so what? I have my family and they're not going to leave me. And when my strength is back to normal, what's stopping me from getting new friends? I can do that, I know I can. Maybe not now, but soon enough.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Solitude - Part I

There are different ways of defining the word solitude:

  • the state of being solitary or secluded 
  • a state of social icolation
  • the state or sitation of being alone
  • a state of being alone, or withdrawn from society; a lonely life; lonelyness.
  • the state of being or living alone 

In most cases, solitude is not chosen. It happened for reasons that you either could or couldn't prevent. Maybe you did something so bad that your friends chose to fully or partly exclude you from their lives. Solitude can also be a result of a somewhat innocent person falling sick and no longer has the strength to keep her social life going. Suddenly there are other things to top the priority list of what is most important in your life. For example: would you prefer to fight for your will to stay alive, or would you rather keep going as normal and as a result; loose your life.

In my case, I lost my friends when I no longer had the will to live. I was in a deep depression and on a number of Hulk-strong pills to keep me calm and keep the suicidal thoughts away from my head. At this time, it wasn't even in me to call my friends, to keep relationships going and to pretend to be this super social gal I used to be. So I lost my friends. Three stayed (Anna, Frida and Jakob). For them, I will forever be greatful and I wish with all my being that one day I will be forever free the disabling angst so that I can show how much you really mean to me. I love you guys, from the bottom of my soul; I thank you.

During the years, the depressions have come back, and the problems with it. I've been slipping away from those dear friends even when I at times have had the courage to talk to them, and on occasion even see them. Anna moved to Oslo. Frida lives closer, but is busy. Jakob lives in Göteborg and is probably equally busy.

I'm really working on it, but it's still hard to be in social places with a lot of people. I never feel more alone than I do in a room full of people. Taking the bus to Göteborg is a huge undertaking even though it's only an hour away. This is probably the hardest part to explain; how I can't come have coffee in Borås or go to a party in Göteborg. I can't, because although I've worked hard to get where I am today, I'm not quite there yet. I so wish I was. Because at this time, it feels like even those three remaining friends are slipping away from me. I can't have that happen. That would certanily be the final blow. But what can I do to prevent that from happening? How can I prove to them that I'm worth to come visit, even if I can't come see them?