Serentripity *)

Musings at a Pizzeria in Stockholm Central Station, 28 November 2018

Once upon a time, I nurtured a dream of leaving home for the airport and buy a ticket for wherever I wanted to go in the moment (and where a ticket were available and affordable).

However, my closest airport doesn’t sell any flight tickets so I have now modified my dream to going by train.

It is possible… I can do this, maybe I will do it already in 2019?

Coming to the station with my (possibly light) luggage, I would buy a coffee (take away cup!), sitting down for a while, listening to the announcements of the loudspeaker. And in the moment I hear the name of a town that my heart spell out its Yes! to, I’ll tap the name into the ticket app, buy the ticket and then hurry off to the train.

I could do it again the day after and who knows where I would end up?

Same cup- different seat (And tea instead of coffee…)

7 March 2019

I am doing it….

The train is rushing through a grey and foggy landscape. In my heart though, there is a sunrise which is about living in the moment. A sunrise, because there is no plan, it’s just a shimmering beginning. Perhaps I go back already this evening. Or not. It doesn’t matter right now. All I know is the whining of the wheels, the jerkiness of the old fashioned wagon. As this is a regional train, I am not in a comfortable high speed intercity train. It is a train, just as it used to be as I remember from my childhood and in the time of my twenties, bringing back memories of the first trips on my own. Just like today..

So what happened? The Readiness for the unexpected doesn’t mean that something unexpected will necessarily happen.. Today it didn’t. What I did get was a peaceful day on my own, the joy of being on a trip, if just for a single day and the pleasure of seeing new surroundings.

Hallsberg is a town where I have often changed trains and I enjoyed seeing more of it than just the station on the way to somewhere else.

Seen in Hallsberg

Sitting in a train, watching the landscape is a peaceful way of spending one’s time, an opportunity to reflect and get new perspectives, as if the trip allows to see your life from ”outside” or just taking a needed rest from daily life. And maybe that is also a sort of serendipity…

Coming back to Stockholm, the station looked the same. Yet something was different. My experience of change was all in me. The time passed, the new surroundings I saw, altered my life experience even if ever so little, just as a journey always does or daily life as well. The strong awareness of something being different, is, I believe, due to the fact that the trip was short enough not to be overwhelmed by impressions and long enough to make an impression.

One thing is for sure: This ”Serentrip” gave me the taste of again. It would be an excellent way of interrailing, combined with another dream of mine; to get on a night train and getting off the first station after waking up…

*) Playing with the word Serendipity. For the definition of the word, please see:
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/serendipity
Serentripity, as I define it, is going on a trip with the sole aim of being available for the unexpected happenings of a trip.

The present moment

Sometimes I wonder in thoughts
without noticing the world
around me

Or dreaming away about a future
that might come,
Or not.

And then there are times
when all around me
calls upon my awareness

The sun’s light
through frozen seaweed
awakens me to my life right now.
I hear a plane in the air
someone else’s trip somewhere

Feeling in the same time
the cold and crisp air
filling my lungs

Being perfectly aware of
that now,
I am being alive.

Brunnsviken February 9, 16:01, 2018

I have a dream… (In English)

I have a dream…
   said once a well known
   American politician
in his speech

I also have a dream…
   of contributing to
   the world I want to live in

I mourn over broken relationships
   over trust lost to distrust, to despair
   and over love turned into hatred

Someone has said
   that hatred is only
   love that has gone astray [1]  
And I so much want
   to tie together
   what is broken to a whole [2]  

I would like to be part of
   the miracle
When trust is restored
   and reconciliation can take place

The road there
   just seem to me
   so tremblingly frail

If I dare to walk
   this road
it will be in the awareness of
that I need not be
   the solution itself
only a part
   of a bigger picture
Like the piece in a puzzle
   seemingly difficult to place
Which would still be missed in the whole
   If absent

And I am not alone
We are many who share a dream
   of a better world

During seven months, I have attended a course in mediating in conflicts based on Nonviolent Communication. The mediation programme, organized by Friare Liv (http://www.friareliv.se/en/) has been held four times with three days in a row. In addition to that we have all practiced in two small groups, one that has met at six occasions and another that have practiced every two week in a telephone conference.

On Saturday, May 20, 2017, the morning of the last course day, I read this poem and played the song Si by the French artist ZAZ. It was this very song and the experiences from the mediation programme that inspired me to write the poem.

The song can be found at ZAZ official website:
https://www.zazofficial.com/en/music/

You may also find it here with English subtitles:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qWX9p6SXZo

DSC_1679
Cherry blossom in Kungsträdgården, Stockholm.

[1] A quotation I found in a Swedish newspaper in the 80’s by someone called Bell Wall
[2]broken to [a] whole are words I have borrowed from a hymn by Christina Lövestam. The hymn has number 766 in the Swedish hymnal.

Duolingo

My trip to Berlin was booked and now I wondered:

-How much will I be able to speak if I do the whole Duolingo course in German?

My previous knowledge from the evening course in German 1983-84 was since long forgotten and when using a Univerb CD and book course in 2015, I mostly listened and seldom opened the book.

Before going to Germany on May 3, 2017, I actually did all the exercises and reached a level of 35% fluency according to the Duolingo application.

The greatest advantage with Duolingo is, in my point of view, to get a sense of the order of words in a sentence. The vocabulary increases of course too. I wasn’t however that accustomed in creating my own phrases and started to do it on my own out of situations in my daily life before the trip. Duolingo is for me a bit like listening to music and singing along, knowing all of the text by heart. Ask me to sing the same song without the help of hearing it simultaneously and I will know perhaps about half of the text by heart.

Looking back now at my seven days in Berlin, I did feel more at ease speaking. It still happened that I needed to change to English, however less often than in my week there in 2015.

Writing produces an imprint in the brain and as I often wrote the same faulty sentence AGAIN (how irritating!) I started to sometimes copy the correct answer from up in the top of the window by writing it accordingly. Thus my 35% of fluency needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Using Duolingo this time[1] intensively for a month I was very content with the practicality of the application. It is easy to use and as the exercises only takes about 5-10 minutes, it is easy to keep up the continuity of training.

Yet, there are things I would like to find and this is therefore my wish lists for future updates:

Technical related wish list:

  • Ability to see the amount of exercises I’ve made in a day. No matter how many exercises done, the application only shows “Practice complete +10XP”.
  • Ability to save phrases in order to create my very personal phrase book.
  • A possibility to choose the amount of repetitions that shows for each day. Getting 25 new every day was stressful. Perhaps though, this might be due to the amount of exercises I had done the previous day?
  • When having finished a repetition, it sometimes takes a about 10 seconds before the color change to orange and the text “No more week words/Strength full” shows. This could perhaps be my phone being slow.

Language related wish list

  • A module with pure grammar information in order to get the bigger picture of a language once in a while. I especially missed that in the beginning.
  • A part of this grammar module would be a table with the auxiliary verbs, to be, to have etc
  • Orderly exercises corresponding to this grammar module. With this I mean sentences being in the order of I, You, He/She/It, We, you, They. As this suggestion might be what many like least with language learning (plodding through, just like in school) it could be a bonus skill for nerds who want to dive deeper, just like the exercises “flirting” and “idioms”.
  • When studying French, a decade ago, there was a vocabulary test, Maximots, built by a professor at Stockholm University on the 1600+ most used words. I’d be delighted to find a similar option also in Duolingo.
  • I have often had a good laughter by some of the sentences, especially in the Danish course. Some of my favorites are: The squirrel is our captain, the ants import rye bread, I am the queen of France, and Why does the bear conduct the orchestra? In the same time, I really don’t know when I would use them. And, Good Heavens, what would an answer be if I did?

 

New languages wish list

Some years ago, I fell in love with the Breton language and in 2014, I went on a five days’ language course in Brittany.

According to UNESCO, the Breton is a severely endangered language with an estimate of only 250 000 speakers[2]

The Duolingo newsletter of May 18, 2017 tells a hopeful story of another endangered Celtic language, the Irish. With only 44000 speakers it is classed by UNESCO as “Definitely endangered”[3] and now “3 million people are learning Irish with Duolingo” [4]

What an advantage! Except for the opportunity in learning new languages, the Duolingo application is also contributing to save endangered languages. How many more can be saved? What about being able to learn as well e.g. Sami languages and Occitan?

My first wish is to soon find Breton as one of your courses. With the facility of the Duolingo application more people would have the possibility to learn Breton, thus helping also this language to stay alive.

Here is the link to learn new languages[5]:
https://www.duolingo.com/register

DSC_1904
Berliner Dom, St. Marienkirche, Fernsehturm and the Humboldt box.

[1] I discovered Duolingo in 2016 and started with the German course, then changed to do some Italian and finally the whole course in Danish.

[2] www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/index.php

[3] www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/index.php

[4] https://www.duolingo.com/comment/19407224/Irish-President-meets-with-Duolingo-and-course-contributors?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=save_irish

[5] This blog post has been sent to Duolingo on their “Submit your Duolingo story!” https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfAnfVmCB7UftggiS0pMAtN4ctX1yZuW3wGRG6MfCyAFrHEgQ/viewform?c=0&w=1

Empathy vs Codependency

Face to face with a person in need, I often tend to immediately react to that need. This reactivity of mine has also been pointed out to me a few times “That someone needs your help does not necessarily mean you need to do it right away” and “Hey, just because I mentioned what needs to be done, it is not necessarily YOU who need to do it. I am also here, you know…”

What is this urgent need in me to FIX, to SOLVE?
A friend of mine called it “Identification”, identifying with the other and thinking it is my responsibility to solve the other person’s dilemma. I have started to think of it as codependency.

A while ago, I attended a conference about empathy. The speaker indicated how fixing or solving is to protect the other person from his/her own development also quoting a saying: “No true transformation without suffering”. In a way, fixing the situation for the other or telling him/her what to do is, if we bring matters to a head, to try to steal away the self-power and initiative from the other. We all have our very personal way to walk. To put one self in the shoes of the other is NOT to be understood literally, it is only meant as a way for our imagination, helping us having an empathic understanding of the other person’s situation.

So what is empathy? Well, I know what it is not: When identifying, I lose the border between myself and the other. My lack of integrity makes me vulnerable and leads me down into the other person’s pain. I start to feel the same feeling.

In a booklet, Getting past the pain between us, Marshall Rosenberg compares empathy to surfing as it is a question of following the other person’s energy, like if the state of mind of the person being listened to, is a wave to surf on[1].

If I take this picture of empathy being like surfing a bit further on, surfing is about following the wave ON the board, not diving into the water. The surfing board can thus be a picture for my integrity, keeping myself intact instead of diving into identifying.

One thing Marshall Rosenberg says, that I find very challenging, is that empathy requires “learning how to enjoy another person’s pain”.[2]

Enjoy???
Well, maybe it is the fact of us not identifying and taking the responsibility for the other person’s case, the fact of instead just BEING THERE for the other, to know that I can be a space for the other to rest in for a while, a support, like a mirror of warm attention to the other person to look in where he or she can find clarity by being heard and rephrased in order to find his/her own solutions.

Rephrasing is something that has not come natural for me until now. As I am discovering it, using it more and more, I begin to believe that it helps me to “stay on the surfboard”, i.e. helping me staying intact by reflecting back instead of identifying.

One of the most challenging things for me to hear is when someone expresses a feeling of hopelessness and I’m not sure of having ever had the strength to rephrase back this feeling. To put these very words into my own mouth has seemed to me like I would surrender to the feeling of hopelessness. Yet, surrender is exactly what I have been doing when my conditioned reflex has made me try to solve the situation for the other. Identifying and taking responsibility in codependency is an obvious way to drown myself in the other persons feeling.

Is this maybe my turning point?

What if reflecting back the other persons feeling with my own words is not only helping him or her to see in the mirror of warm attention but also the way for me to abandon codependency. And a way to start living empathy.

[1] Rosenberg, 2005, Getting past the pain between us, p 8

http://www.growingempowered.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Getting-Past-the-Pain-Between-Us.pdf

[2] Rosenberg, 2005, Getting past the pain between us, p 9

wp-image-1966742938jpg.jpg
Sunrise on June 6 2016, 03:41