I belong to that generation when the Internet became readily accessible as I entered the second half of my teen years, but it had not been around so long that my parents were wary about the people I talked to online, thus I was able to make a lot of friends online. And many of them are Americans. Having friends from different countries and cultures usually means some clashing, even if it’s another western nation like the US, from the sort of sitcoms we grew up with, to brands of sugary fuel we consumed and the way we were brought up. One of those areas where I just didn’t seem to “get it” was the general attitude I noticed about the seasons and summers.
There are a few things that are known far and wide as traditionally Swedish; Ingmar Bergman, ABBA, the Nobel Prize and of course IKEA. The furniture giant, founded by a man who supplied the people with affordable furniture, as long as you took the time to put it together yourself, is a bit of an institution even in its homeland.
Certainly, what would become of all the university students and youngsters, who need to furnish their first apartments on a tight budget if it were not for IKEA? How could a normal family be able to furnish their home with warm colors and plenty of decorative items to elevate their status in their neighborhood, if not for IKEA? What would the divorcee, who now needs his or her own place to stay again, do, if there was not IKEA to purchase those pieces of furniture which were left behind with their estranged partner?
Yet there is also peril associated with a trip to this fabled place.
Sometimes I feel like the best part of travel is the planning of it. Think about it. When you only just made that booking, when all those months lay ahead, that long period of time before you actually set off, everything is still possible. No worries about delays, issues with the transit, no worrying about having packed everything and you are still months away from facing the reality of what it will really be like once you have reached your destination.
When I strolled out of the jetway into the terminal there was no sign of the snow storm that had stranded me in Columbus the day previous. There had been some snow on the ground when we taxied over to Terminal 1 to be sure, but the sky above us was a brilliant blue with a sleepy winter sun shining down on the world. It felt like one huge trick had been played on me, one which had now successfully delayed my homecoming with one long day.
Mankind is a creature of habit. When you look at any normal human life it is very much the same when you look at the basic aspects of it, no matter where in the world you are. There is a structure to it, a way it has always been since human societies were first formed.
All the feelings, all the fondness, all the happy thoughts that emerge from slumber in my head when the first notes of a Christmas songs begins to play in November, the sense of warm and fuzzies that come over me as the pretty lights come up on the balconies, the tree in the town square glowing red and cozy in the grey starless dark, all of that comes from one brief period in my childhood. I can even pinpoint them within a few years.
I am one of those people who re-reads a book multiple times, just to savor certain passages, let the familiar words wash over me and caress my very being in a comforting way. How fascinating is it then that one such familiar passage that has remained with me deals with the very concept of comfort itself and how to be the most comfortable.
Let me paint you a picture, and tell a tale of overcoming fear.
I am a much younger version of myself, a girl who is not as little as she used to be, as when I had my yearly checkup I found out that I had reached the height of 140 centimeters. Why this was such a glorious thing would not become obvious until that summer.
Biologically speaking fear is something good. It is our body and our brains warning us that something is amiss, that we must be prepared to either fight or flee, which are the most basic of responses. It sets off cascades of responses in our bodies, causing elevated heart beat and sharpens our senses, tapping into the primitive lizard brain. Fear is one of those things which kept our species alive and helped us adapt and thrive over the thousands of years Homo sapiens have lived on this planet.
But the fact is that there can be too much of a good thing.
The best definition of this style that I could think of, in this short little piece where I try to be a little bit provocative, though I don’t offer any solid answers at the end, I hope to have made you think a little at least.