Lessons learned

Unless we’re in school or someone asks us where or when we learnt something, it’s not something we pay a lot of attention to when it actually happens. After a mistake has been made or a horrible experience has been struggled through, we come out the other end and if there is a second to sit and ponder, we often look back to see what good thing we got out of it. I witnessed one of my kittens, Saga, learn something today. She was sitting elevated on my lap and watched as her brother was chasing after a cat-toy I got them. (Most of it anyway, turns out the blood-thirsty little things have chewed off half the tail!) As she watched, her eyes started going more and more to where the wire was attached to the rod in my hand. Then they’d go back to where her brother was playing with the mouse-part of the toy, only to travel up to the wire and back to my hand. When she got down to play after, she played slower and gentler than she has done before. It was as if she had understood this toy did not have a life of its own, it was only manipulated by me for their benefit. Sure, she still looked like she was having fun, but she did not come close to the ninja-like efforts she has played with before when she couldn’t be sure the movements were cause by me. So today’s post is going to be about learning.

 

The little fuzzy smart-ass herself!

In School

This is the most obvious place to learn. After all, it’s been created for that purpose. Once upon a time education was reserved for specific people; priests so they could read Latin well, then these priests passed it on to noble-men, then the rich, and somewhere along the line someone figured it was time for everyone. Not without a struggle. For the longest time keeping the poor and the worker illiterate was necessary to make the common man stay out of the rich or powerful man’s business. We wouldn’t want people to find out about their personal rights or laws now would we? It is hard to imagine a time when the ability to read was not important. When adding numbers higher than two and two together wasn’t all that relevant. When knowing what the capital of a neighbouring country was called was more of a random fact than a necessary one. Now I never went to school as a kid, I was home-schooled, with the good and bad that that sort of learning brings. However I’m the most dedicated student in my class-room now. The innumerable frustrations that I am beset by each day – an incompetent, addle-brained, stubborn teacher, disinterested and immature class-mates, a mess of a lesson-plan – drive me crazy. Never has learning been such a bother. But I can say that the special kind of satisfaction I get when the teacher hands me my test back and it has a huge “A – Very Good!” scribbled at the top corner, that satisfaction I can’t really compare to anything else 🙂

Friends and mentors

The knowledge you receive when someone decides they want to share a past experience or some special skill they have with you is impossible to match. It is information freely given, greedily taken, and I love learning this way. When someone shares something they consider relevant with me it makes me feel special and cared for. They are both letting me in on something that they will not share with everyone they meet, and expressing an interest in my well-being. Throughout the years I have been blessed with many such people. Daniel, Jessica and Tilda, Sarah, Sierra, Dave – oh Guru Dave! – Gerard, Minh, Phil and so many more. If I didn’t have these people in my life I don’t know where I would be now to be honest. I rely heavily on other the good advice of others, but only ever on the good advice of the people I respect the most. Good thing I am surrounded by people with brains.

Trial and error

This happens so often in life – especially the error part – that we have coined a term for it. No wonder. Few species have tried so many things and made so many ridiculous mistakes as the Homo Sapiens. People such as myself use this method a lot. I am in a place now when I am practising “Listen first, do after”. I have not been in that place for a long time. One specific event was the famous “Bannerman park pool” incident, during which I went swimming with a bunch of lovely and equally stupid people – you know who you are :p – in a public pool after closing hours, sneaking in through a whole that had been cut in the fence. When the cops eventually did come and I had blood trickling down my leg from a decently sized gash bestowed by aforementioned fence, I realised that was something I didn’t want to do again. Sure, I have a good laugh telling the story, but the memory of the night is still a wee bit more tragical than comical and I learned my lesson. If I ever forget I have a nice long scar to remind me.

Relationships

The things you learn when in a relationship you can’t learn in any other way. Whenever I am in such a one, I learn things about myself that I had never even considered. You get a full-time course in the person whom you are dating and they hopefully try to learn something about you too. You learn what you want in life and what you don’t want, you learn how to make compromises, how to make promises and break them, how to apologise, how to feel like shit and how to feel larger than life and truly amazing. You learn a little more about who you are and who you want to be each day, what you can live with and what you can’t live without. You learn how to lose yourself, your dignity, your limitations and your heart. You learn how to trust and love unconditionally, and then fall down from the top of the mountain. It’s just important to remember that you can always get back up again. You might say “but what if you broke your bones?” Bones heal and there are crutches and gauze. Relationships are the ultimate learning experience in my eyes.

What’s an experience that you learnt something important from? Who has been a good friend/mentor in your life whose advice you will always remember?

A little speck of dirt west of here

So this time I was thinking my excuse could be “there’s nothing to write about!” but then I realized there always is, you just have to decide that what you have to say isn’t as boring as you think it is. So that’s what I’m going to do. This is a post that I’ve been planning to write ever since before I left Newfoundland but for some reason I can’t explain it hasn’t happened yet. But it’s happening today!

 

Things I miss about Newfoundland

  1. The wind – it’s always surrounding you, pushing you back, shoving you forward, making your hair stick in the lip-gloss that you so foolishly thought to wear that night. It creates noise in the emptiest of spaces and a friend which is either bothering or comforting depending on the situation. Sure, with fall there’s quite a lot of wind in Sweden too, but it’s not the same.
  2. The people – I think everyone who has met Newfoundlanders can agree on that they stand apart with a nationality all of their own. Friendly people, crazy people, artistic people, often all three in one. They can be the most down to earth and sarcastic hard-working old men you know, of the most dreamy and hipster young girls. Whatever else, Newfoundlanders care. Sometimes with the frustrating nosiness of a Jane Austen damsel, sometimes with the angry passion of someone way too drunk on Lambs, but they do care. And if they don’t, they make damn sure you understand how much they don’t care about caring. And my friends, I don’t even have words to express how much I miss them.
  3. The junk-food – Oh Ziggy’s. Oh A&W. Oh Dairy Queen and Wendy’s. Swede’s might have a lot of food-culture and a lot of variation but we have not perfected the deep-fried greasiness that is at the heart and soul of a proper Newfie stogging-place. So in the middle of the night in Stockholm, drunk as a kite and dying for a dirty scoff, where do you go? That question has yet to find a good answer.
  4. My job – The difference between the job I – sort of – have right now and the job I had at Second Cup is miles apart. I loved almost everyone I worked with, here they’re a strange mix of crazy, disinterested or just downright annoying. I felt pride in what I did there, here I feel ashamed almost every time I serve a guest anything off the menu. I enjoyed the atmosphere created by the freshly ground coffee and soft jazz, here I want to tear my ears off when the same hit-cd plays for the 10th time over and the stench of something I’ve yet to locate in the kitchen slaps me in the face. Until I find another job I can not possibly be content to leave Second Cup behind :/
  5. The side-walks – yes, I know, I’m insane. When have I ever complained as much about the grey pathways of a city as when I lived in St. John’s? Yet the side-walks here are uneventful and even, without that constant risk of hooking your heel in a crack or stumbling on a piece of gravel the size of your head. (And I know that’s not gravel. You don’t have to point that out. But in St. John’s, that is gravel.) Where’s the life-and-death adventure of taking a stroll now?
Things I do not miss about Newfoundland
  1. Most of the weather – A lot of the time except for on some rare summer days, the St. John’s weather was crap. The wind which I loved so much would combine itself with a heavy downpour or smudgy fog or why not that wonderful sleet or rain-mixed snow? And then it would proceed to confuse us for the rest of the day, or weeks, with its unpredictability.
  2. The cheese – Except for on a poutine, most of the cheese was kind of like plastic and very expensive. What sane person would pay for a piece of expensive plastic on their bread? I never said I was sane.
  3. George Street on a weekend – Don’t get me wrong. The Levee at 345 is really awesome, a tiny late-night show at CBTG’s is great, but George Street on a Saturday around 11pm? Hates it. The population of the street around this time is either failed attempts at hipster-guys, i-love-hockey-so-much-i-will-wear-it-all-over-my-body guys, these-jeans-will-render-me-barren guys or the endless stream of fake blondes in the little black dress which barely covers their private parts on the wobbly heels. (The only kind of female who can get attracted to above mentioned boys, and even they need a solid doze of some disgusting alcohol in them before this happens.)
  4. Sears – Aaauuuuuugggghhhhh!!!!! I have to admit, and I am very embarrassed to do so, that even I have every once in a while in a moment of weakness, bought something at Sears. But just passing through it you get harassed by loud shirts, even louder over-sized underwear, angry old women and furious little children, all of which appear very threatening and like their deepest wish is to cause you bodily harm. Let us not mention Dollorama. This might be even worse actually.
Having been away for quite some time, it’s easier to look back and see what you actually miss and what you just thought you missed until you received the blessing of being absent from it for a while. What do you miss/hate the most about the place you live/have lived when you are gone?

The Four Seasons

No, I’m not writing about the Vivaldi composition. Well,  I could link it to you for sure, but that’s not really the theme here. I would have to do a lot more research to be able to write an entire blogpost about that. What I meant to say is, the seasons are a’changing now. In Sweden at least, summer has with certainty and determination taken the giant step into fall, with all things, good and bad, in tow. So without further ado, I present to you, a little something about what I think about when I think about the Four Seasons.

 

Spring.

I feel that spring brings out the child in us all. Yes, we become wild and crazy to break free from a long and hard winter, but in a soft and kind way. Everything seems brighter, softer yet with more contrast. The colours are vibrant yet natural, gentle enough that they won’t scare a doe or frighten a hare that peaks through the greenery. For me as a child, spring always meant Easter with all its joys. Egg-hunts, egg-eating, egg-boiling, egg-painting, egg-cracking. Chocolate and candy in giant colourful papier-mache containers. Decorations galore. Sour herring on hard-bread with gräddfil. And more eggs. Oh the special sort of magic there was for me in that early morning, sneaking around the house in the hope to catch the Easter Bunny on his busy route. In later years once I started losing faith, the honour of egg-hider sometimes fell on my skinny shoulders. But I think what I looked forward to the very most with spring was the flowers. I have always, and probably will always, love, live, breathe for flowers. To be able to make that first wraith and place on my head in a playful attempt at some long forgotten youthful goddess was for me an insurmountable joy.

Summer.

Ah the warmth. The long days, the light almost tangible, certainly tangible when it turns into a solid sunburn on your bare skin. For me as a child, summer started off as a hazy blur of splashing around in the kiddy-pool or the ocean, then wild-strawberries threaded onto grass-straws, then the smell of benzine at gas-stations as we stopped for ice-cream. As soon as I got past the toddler stadium it was about fighting the imaginary enemies that me and my siblings saw in the tall weeds, a fallen tree turned into a fort, we’d hide amongst stacks of fire-wood with nuts and dried fruits that we’d stolen from the kitchen… but better still were summers as I got just a little older. Then I started seeing the magic in all. I could see the little fairies as they darted in the twilight-shadows, the tress whispering in the mild breeze, the special words and spells you could bind on a midsummer-night. Summer-rain was something truly special and fine, something to be enjoyed fully in silence, just accepting the lukewarm downpour. Thunder, oh the thunder and lightning! I would run outside so I could feel the mighty rumbles all the better, my worried parents calling after me. Oh the thunder-storm on a hot summer afternoon, followed by that fresh flowery scent that rises out of the very earth itself when glistening with the blessed summer-rain steams itself onwards into starry night.

Fall.

This season is what made me start writing this blogpost. I’m feeling it rising verily in my blood as we speak. I’ve always been a child of the fall you see 🙂 When I said that the sort of wildness you feel in spring is a childish and sweet one, I meant compared to the one you feel in the fall. Autumn brings about something heavy and dark, and urge to live and breathe while there’s still red in the leaves, before the ground freezes. Fall to me is hunt, gather, search, taste, see… crisp cold apples right of the branch stinging your teeth, that unique rustle of just fallen leaves underfoot, that special bite that the crazed wind brings to your cheeks… How can anyone explain just the way they feel when they see a Rowan ripe with berries in the evening-suns fire-rays? It’s a secret of ancient times, something that was spoken of so long ago we can’t quite understand the mystery now. Fall is my favourite season for that very reason. It’s wild, ripe, strong, fearless yet desperate, warm yet ruthless. It lets us feel what we feel, and if we feel nothing it makes us.

Winter.

Mmmmmm. It instantly makes me think of that special, snuggly, well-earned feeling you get when you’ve been out playing in the snow for hours and get inside to a roaring fire and a cup of hot chocolate. Do you think that is only a cliché and the stuff of stories? Because that was a whole lot of my winters growing up. That and struggling out of the drenched, stuffy winter-clothes. That and getting a face-full of snow. That and getting colds and aches and not being able to go outside. But despite all the hardships of winter, the special sense of calm that it brings us when all of nature falls asleep in a long and slow dream of spring, that special sense makes it all worth it to me. And then there’s Christmas. To some it is just a commercial trick to lure people into spending their money on worthless knacks and stress themselves into heart-attacks. But for me Christmas was stuffing little Santa’s helpers and angels into every available corner of the house, rolling out the Christmas-linens of every flat surface, decorating the ridiculously prickly fern-tree that my dad and older brothers had brought in from the forest nearby and then sitting back to wait for 12am to roll around, when the ham would be done cooking in the oven and we’d get to sneak some hot slices with mustard before bedtime. And when my dad read aloud to us from Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” as we spread the butter thickly on the Welsh Bara Brith and felt the cold wind try to force its way through the floor as we sat wide-eyed on lambskin rugs well into the dark hours… winter just couldn’t get better. And probably never will.

 

 

So which season is your favourite, if you have one? Why do you love or hate the seasons? What’s a really good seasonal memory that you’d like to share?