I am all for communication and getting to know people, but some questions are forever off the table. The headline of this post thrones on top of the list of eternally banned things to ask people, as this brings back one of the most embarrassing memories of my life.
I was around 20 and was going to see a friend studying music performing an intimate little concert for some people she knew. I had not seen her in a while and rumour had it she had become engaged in the meantime. When I saw her I noticed that she looked slightly more, how should i put it, nourished than the last time we met. She was also wearing a dress that was not exactly helping. My brain had then drawn the obvious conclusion that she was expecting and that I was happy for her.
The concert was wonderful and afterwards I went up to thank her, as you do. She was pleased with her performance and was smiling, laughing and glowing like a true artiste knowing she had done good work. So I congratulated her on the concert, her engagement and then point towards her stomach and ask her when she is due. Her wonderfully smiling face changed from pure joy to shock and then utter despair within the blink of an eye. Bless her, she took it as graciously as anyone could and excused herself with it being that time of the month and so on. I think. I was really not in any state to register a lot of what was going on. Once I had realized that disaster had struck, I was fully engaged in looking for a hole to crawl into and stay in. Forever.
Had I found a hole in the ground I would probably still be there, because more than ten years later this still makes me cringe. It is actually only a couple of years ago that I stopped blushing when thinking about it. Oh, the shame!
You live, you learn. And this was a huge learning experience for me. Now, even if the pregnancy is so obvious that she looks as if she is about to explode any minute I will never ever ask when she is due. She will have to tell me clearly and unambiguously that she is expecting little ones before I will signal that I assume anything.
Why am I sharing this? Well, maybe I will spare someone else from the utter embarrassment of asking a woman if she is pregnant when she in fact is not. One of the most efficient ways to make someone feel really, really bad in an instant is an honest remark on their weight. Experience has taught me that it is not always obvious what is a compliment and what is an offense to someone. Does someone want to lose weight? Or are they maybe trying to put on a bit?
You never know, so instead of gambling with people’s feelings there are luckily lots of other things to talk about. If you want to talk about your weight to me that’s fine. But I will not promise I will be honest.
Quoting the bible is not something I do very often, and quite frankly until just a few moments ago I did not even know that this well-known line was from that book. The message is however as simple as it is true: Whatever you give will be returned to you.
-Wait a minute, mister! How can you say that? I give and I give and I give and I never get anything in return!! (Yes, we all know that one).
If you buy someone a coffee it is not a given that this person will buy you a coffee tomorrow, next week or even next year. But that is not really the point and keeping scores of people’s generosity is probably not a very good idea. Not because you are likely to end up with a negative balance but because giving for the sake of receiving exactly the same thing (or something better) back is not called giving at all. It is called borrowing, exchange or even investment.
Some of the happiest people I know are also among the most generous people I know. And I don’t think this is a coincidence. Generosity attracts generosity and people who give freely send a powerful signal to the world: That they are safe and secure enough to share whatever they have because they live in abundance. I am not necessarily talking about money and other material stuff. Belgian Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier once said: We must not only give what we have; we must also give what we are. It is often more meaningful and valuable to give of our time, our love, our understanding, a smile, our experience, our knowledge or maybe just give someone a break.
It is a fact that many people find it very hard to give freely. A fact that is a bit more confusing is that very many people find it equally hard to accept other people’s generosity. I know people who graciously give tons to others (seemingly) without expecting anything in return. However, once you try to give these angels what they deserve they turn into these rather ungracious creatures, and what could have been a pleasant situation for both plunges into plain awkwardness. Denying people around you the joy of giving may feel noble and righteous to you, but chances are that the giver is not seeing it in the same way. So give and receive with equal grace; the two are inseparably linked to each other. If you feel you cannot thank the person properly then pay it forward. Be extra generous to the next person you meet. This is how everyday magic is created.
By all means, I am not a saint. I do however think that the world has an infinite potential for improvement in this particular area and for me personally this improvement can only start with me.
What goes around comes around. And the exciting thing is that it doesn’t always come from the direction you would expect. So give freely – you never know who you will be thanking later!
In my opening post yesterday I wrote that I have big changes coming up in my life. Big changes that may very well involve emigration to the land of possibilities across the Atlantic.
Moving abroad is not exactly a novel thing to me. At 19 I moved to London where I went to dance college for three years, and last September I returned home after three years of business studies in Hong Kong. Being 31 on my return from Hong Kong I somehow thought it was now time to move to Oslo, drop anchor, start climbing the career ladder, buy a flat and shack up with a boyfriend. You know, like normal people do.
Eleven months later I am neither climbing any ladders nor likely to shack up any time soon. And since property prices are just ridiculously off-putting my address is still identical to the one of my parents. Luckily, I believe that most things (not all things) happen for a reason so this is not a major let down. Things are exactly the way they are supposed to be. They always are. The good news is that I have been given an opportunity where fulfilling an almost lifelong dream is actually within reach.
Last autumn I entered the (US) Diversity Visa Program, which is the real name for the Green Card Lottery, where 50,000 immigrant visas are awarded annually to nationals of countries with low immigration to the US. I probably should write that I entered the lottery just for fun with no hopes of actually winning, but that would be lying. Truth be told, I had victorious hopes but with this being a lottery I of course did not plan my life around it. The more realistic plan I had was moving to Oslo. For different reasons this had not yet happened by April so I sort of thought I might as well wait until after May 1 when the results from the lottery was out. You know, just in case. As you may well have guessed by now I of course won, or as they call it was selected for further processing. This means that within a year from now I could be starting a new life as a permanent resident of the United States of America.
Although part of me sort of would like to become a “normal” person with a permanent address and earthly goods to go with it, another (and probably the more dominant) part of me is craving another adventure. I probably would regret not seizing this opportunity for the rest of my life, and if I don’t like it I can always go back to plan B. And plan B is not so shabby either.
So there you have it. The American Dream is still very much alive, at least for yours truly. A dream on its way to become reality if I want it. And you know what? I think I do.
The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams
Yup, I have decided it is about time I shared all the very important stuff going on in my life with whomever wants to read. Or that is, since I am not an idiot and a firm believer in karma, I am of course going to do this in an orderly manner. Doing this in an orderly manner means:
- I am going to respect the privacy of the people close to me, including myself. So for the ones getting nervous about me spilling their beans, your secrets are still safe with me.
- Since the sky is the limit of my ambitions and the Internet never forgets, I am going to to the best of my ability avoid posting anything I will not stand for in any position (say princess, president, CEO or world-ruler).
- Negative and destructive grouching may give instant relief for frustrations but experience has shown that its aftertaste more often than not is pretty foul. So therefore unless I have something constructive to say I will at the very least try to keep quiet (are you taking notes?).
So. Why start blogging now? Mainly because it looks as if I have big changes coming up in my life, and I want YOU to come with me on this journey. Exactly what these big changes are is still a bit out in the blue. Anything and everything can happen, which although slightly frightening is also pretty damn exciting.
I am however not going to make this into a plain diary, but also share other things that are important to me from a wide array of topics, including politics, news, arts, sports, healthy living, philosophy, spirituality, literature. And maybe ice cream and other important stuff. Who knows..
Lastly,the name of my blog is of course inspired by one of my big, big idols. A 3,5 year old red, furry monster whose loving philosophy encompasses more or less everything good in life. Elmo, I love you!
Well, this was the preface. Till next time, have a wonderful Thursday!