Sunday came and went and you, my beloved readers, probably noticed that Höstlov (autumn break for schools) had sabotaged my usual Sunday blog entry. The truth is that by the time Höstlov comes along, we’ve all been waiting for it for some weeks. As Wonderful November approaches in Sweden one feels like a person holding his/her breath underwater. When will that respite come? When will we have the time to light our candles and huddle under the soft fleece in an easy chair with a favorite book and Mahler awakening our senses from the stereo? On Sunday morning that moment had come. My husband and the children were wrapped under their warm covers still fast asleep – even Lucy the dog needed some extra shut-eye, and my moment in the arm chair arrived. Do forgive me for this little blip. Here I am: better late than never!
“Aren’t we going to Thailand or London?” the children asked. “All of our friends are taking an extra week off and going for holidays SOMEWHERE!” Just as I learned that Stockholm was not somewhere, I was carefully calculating what we would be doing on each day in this beautiful city that the working year leaves us so little time to enjoy. In particular, I had been watching the sun symbol in the weather section of the newspaper moving from Tuesday to Wednesday to Thursday…Is there is a conspiracy going on between the government and the weather service to keep our spirits up? The sun will come, just not today.
When it rains there is always the cinema. We navigated the traffic – a relatively new phenomenon in Sweden – to see the film “Oceans“. It is a documentary sponsored by the wealthy of the world (and Disney) about the high seas and what goes on deep under the surface. I have done some scuba diving in my time and mostly when I watch such underwater documentaries, I can imagine how the film might have been shot. In this case, I just could not imagine how the filmmakers managed. There were images of the sea at its most violent and frightening, with building-high waves crashing up against one another like titans. There was an image of a diver filming a sperm whale as it ‘played’. An inadvertant whip of any of its fins could easily have sent the diver to Valhalla. There were the strange creatures that stay clear away from human life at the very bottom of the sea; creatures that look more like they come from Star Wars than from our planet.
For a little over an hour we dwelt in a world that was not ours but at the same time very much ours. In the film a whaling boat hauls a shark out of the water, mercilessly cuts off its fins for making that terrible luxury - shark fin soup – and throws the live shark which no longer has any possibility to move itself through the water into the depths. I never thought I would feel sorry for a shark but for the first time I realized how helpless these creatures can be when man is heartless. The garbage flowed freely around the seals who could barely see through coastal water filled with gritty garbage. The contrast to the happy creatures that can live in the pristine waters on either pole of the earth was palpable.
We need films like this to remember. Just a couple of days before I had been in the supermarket in a rush to get home and put something quick yet special on the table for Friday’s dinner. As the editor of The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook, I know that I should skip those big, juicy shrimps that come from farms which destroy entire coastal ecosystems. Yet there were crowds, I was tired and I could not find the sustainable Atlantic shrimp or think of anything else in my exhaustion after the long week. I was glad to meet a friend at the cash register to remind me that even if those shrimps were big and juicy, we should skip them for the sake of all of the beauty on land and in the sea. Sounds simple and it is simple. Yet, it is so easy to give in to the complexity of exhaustion, crowds, lack of time and waning creativity which follows.
Thank goodness for Höstlov. It’s time to take stock and remind onesself that with just a little extra breath and a moment’s reflection those majestic creatures in the sea can continue to make this planet the universal miracle that it is.