You are what you share

“Share” has become a strangely popular catchword these days. A word that catches our attention and minds.

No, it is not a question of sharing the wealth, or even the wisdom and insights. It is about sharing a photo of our newborn child or our dinner. Which often should or could be called showing. (Sometimes showing it down somebody’s throat.)

Sure, in a way you feel that I am sharing my life with you (a bit of it) if you can see pictures from my home or my birthday party. But it not sharing of bread, nor sharing a conversation at a café or a bar. Partly because it is so impersonal. There is nothing personal about a photo shared with two thousand Facebook friends. I would call that public or official.

Asking “What do we share?” is like asking “What am I putting in the drinking-water?” Because the so called feed in social media is like drinking-water. Small, short impressions that make up part of our total amount of impressions per day (TAIPD).

This can lead to the question: “How do I want to influence my circle of friends?” They are, in a direct and practical way, the “world” to me.

The world for me is my circle. THAT I can influence. I don’t know what happens beyond that circle, but something surely does happen.

It’s like chaos theory; the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. That “flutter” can be my posting a link to a Duke Ellington song or a selfie from my visit to my mom, or any such “small thing”.

No, I cannot predict what the effects of my “fluttering” will or might be. But I CAN be clear about my intentions and motives. I have enough light to see myself, if not all of my ramifications.

So, why am I putting this specific drop in the mental drinking water of the world? That can be a question for social media, Facebook and such. Or for our everyday actions: my expression when I buy bread at the bakery, my choice of words when I meet my brother or a waiter in a restaurant. Or even, gosh, the thought I will think in ten minutes from now! Or am thinking right now.

My thoughts are also butterfly wings. What typhoon or sand storm or festivity and joy will they cause, somewhere on the planet, in the Universe?

Imagine that my selfie could have such huge effects…!

Nobody knows that. But I CAN know my intentions and motives for my share, and thus carry my share in the forming of the world.

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Smile, you are at Starbucks

I practically never visit Starbucks, but the other day I did. At the counter the following fragment of a conversation takes place.

–Customer, C (foreign man around 30): Give me a smile. Can you smile, man?
–Starbucks guy, SG: (Continues with the customers credit card)
–C: Really, you need to learn to smile. What’s wrong with you? Give me a smile!
–SG: (Politely) Is all okay with you, sir?
–C: With me, terrific! With you, I am not so sure… Hey, forget it, cancel the buy.
–SG: (Cancels, and gives him back his card).
–C: (at the door) You really need to learn to smile, man.

There are so many interactions taking place in a big city every day, but this one I will remember. Why? I am not sure.

Of course my written words are not the very exact words, also they cannot capture the whole event. There was also tone of voice, body language, faces and the very bodies of the two persons involved.

The insistence of asking for a smile could have been rude or arrogant. It didn’t see it that way. It was more like a benign but stern and demanding teacher scolding a student. Almost like an oracle speaking.

I am sure the young man behind the counter will remember this episode, at least I hope he will.

The main thing I took with me from this was an energy of generosity: Somebody does not accept your second best, your 99 1/2 or 67 1/2. Somebody ask you to be your best. We didn’t ask him to coach us, but he does anyway. (And maybe our soul did ask for it, but we forgot that episode.)

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The scent of Christmas

Once, when I was a kid, Christmas was about presents. Of course. What’s in that package… and what’s that BIG one over there?

Then Christmas went through many phases: a family affair, the stress of shopping mania, giving rather than getting presents, lonely Christmas, etc.

Now I would say that Christmas, the spirit of Christmas, is a scent. The smell of a Christmas tree, the old classic type that hasn’t lost its aroma, is enough. Christmas is for the nose.

Ahem…. modern surrogate.

Talking about the nose, I notice something in the hall.

We know — though of course quickly forget since we quickly get used to it — that every apartment has it’s own smell. Probably the result of the sum total of walls, paint, curtains, bed clothes, furniture, electronics (TV, stereo, etc), so on. Did I mention the piano?

In some apartments something lovely happens when you open the windows wide. The walls (I suspect) gives off an pleasant, old-world aroma in contact with the air from the outside.

This is one of the so called small joys of life that we (our intellect) easily forget. But the nose knows this.

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Well used and wasted insomnia

I have this recent habit of waking up around the “wolf hour”, four in the morning.

Insomnia and not sleeping well can be very frustrating, especially over time. But at least part of the problem is a thought: “I should be sleeping now”.

Well, I am awake so I rise and write instead. Might take a nap in the afternoon.

So let me use this time well. Let me gather my thoughts, once again as usual, at a less usual hour.

The thoughts on my mind these days (and nights) are very much our modern world: how we communicate, express ourselves, behave, love, what we say and don’t say — and who is listening.

“Talking to the wall” is a classic expression for being alone but still having thoughts on your mind that you want to formulate, express, whisper or shout.

Who would have thought that a blog is a kind of wall nowadays? A different wall, of course. The neighbors are different. Your physical neighbors are probably not hearing your “wall-talk”; on the other hand strangers from the other side of the planet might. Or nobody might, that is yet another soundproof possibility.

Strange changes, these.

However, loneliness remains, I think that hasn’t changed much. People still feel isolated, forgotten, unheard and worthless. Blogging, Facebooking or Twittering, I believe, are no real solutions to this, though if you are born into the SOC-MED-system (social media), and even if you aren’t, you might think that they are. I ascribe this belief to the different STROKE-phases that Eric Berne has written about in Games people play.

As far as I remember in my dozing state he says that infants get (we hope) hugs and stroking. This is essential for human life; children wilt if they are not held and hugged.

As we grow older we get less and less of this kind of warm physical contact. The need for stroking remains, but we need to find other channels for it. We start to sublimate, even though (I believe) nothing can beat a warm, fuzzy hug, preferably from someone who likes or loves you.

All our SOC-MED — well, not all but much of it, so it seems to me — is a surrogate for hugs. Some of us get real hugs real often, others less often, and then there are those who just aren’t hugged. For them SOC-MED can become a hugging machine.


Another thing has to do with writing. As I am a writer who writes more or less constantly (much more than I publish) it is important to understand the role and function of writing. And the relation of writer to reader.

Once upon a time, not long ago, the result of writing was presented in books (and of course in papers and magazines).

Now there is a very interesting time aspect to writing books. As a rule you need a publisher for books. You send them your manuscript, they accept it, then they print it. This process can take months or years. Contrast this with what happens now.

These words are going to be on the Net in maybe ten minutes. Years, months, minutes, that’s an enormous acceleration.

This also changes the question of audience. Who read a book formerly? Well, all kinds of people. But as a rule there was a basic motivation to read a specific book. You either borrowed it in the library or you bought it in a book store.

This is very different from surfing the Net. When you surf the Net and find something to read then that reading matter is surrounded by a lot of things, mainly digital clutter.

We have gotten used to multitasking, which is a way of being more or less present / absent. I think one example is enough to explain the difference between then and now:

Imagine that you have this new book in your lap. You just bought it and you look forward to reading it. You open it and it rings. What? A ringtone is heard. Where does that come from…?

You continue to turn the pages, and now it rings again. “You have mail” a voice says. You turn another page. “CLICK HERE to win a free iPhone!” is written all over the page. What the hell! I am trying to read a book.

You turn the page and the book finally begins. After four pages it starts again. “Adam liked your post” it says. What post? I am reading, damn it, not writing on Facebook. Oh but you ARE! This is not just a book, you see, this is your mailbox and Facebook and all the SOC-MED you are involved in.

Enough. I think you (whoever and wherever you are) get the picture. Besides, I am tired of this. I will watch “Vargtimmen” (The hour of the wolf) by Ingmar Bergman on YouTube and then try to get some sleep again. OAO.

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En poet

Nu är jag rörd.

Titta på den här bilden. Titta på den gamle mannen som får hjälp att gå och stå.

ofvandahl3-amHan är 101 år gammal. Så det är inte så konstigt att man behöver lite stöd då, varför inte av en vacker kvinna?

Mannen är Erik Ofvandahl, konditor och pekoralist (det förra kallade han sig själv, det senare kallade andra honom.) Många, inklusive mig, har gjort sig lustiga över honom, men när jag ser bilden här vill jag bara ge honom en kram.

Det är fint att skriva poesi, även om den hamnar på tvärs. Och vem är jag att prata? Jag, en peot.

Nå, jag har faktiskt i ett sammanhang skrivit några/två rader som var inspirerade av Ofvandahls diktkonst.

Ovan där i dalen / Hörs en trall av Fartein Valen.

(Valen var en norsk modern kompositör. Han skrev inte trallvänlig musik.)

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What is generosity? We think it concerns gifts, inviting people and giving them love and friendliness (and food), not fearing expenses. What we actually think while we do these things, nobody asks.

But there is another sort, the generosity of truth and honesty. I will tell you how I feel about you, what you did, or didn’t. That might not look like kindness or love (or it might), but it is perhaps the finest kind of generosity there is. A case of silence being stingy and speech being golden.

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Myself and I

One of the funniest persons I know is me. I have spent a couple of hours tonight reading old texts and articles of mine. If it is true that laughter lengthens life I will live several seconds longer now.

But I don’t only laugh. I also half-cry, observing how I was some 25 years ago. What a brave, lonely freethinker I was, not caring about the opinions of the world but still trapped in that strange cage called “Swedish life”. Much of what I read is a reaction and protest against it, a way of banging on the walls of the cell.

I am out of the cell now, even though I feel like I am trapped again, only in another way. That is probably not true. These days I am banging on the walls from the outside. Let me in, let me in! I can’t handle this freedom…!

I wonder what my 25 years younger version would say about me today. Probably: You came this far; you survived. You must have done something right.

I more than survived. I was perfect!
I more than survived. I was perfect!

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Klick in i döden

(Text från Computer Sweden 2013)

Det är andra gången det händer mig.

En vän dör och jag får reda på det genom den tramsigaste av kanaler: Facebook. En kanal som knappast kan kallas sakral, en flod i vilken rinner allehanda tjafs och trivialiteter. Mitt i flödet av heta länkar infinner sig plötsligt döden.

Första gången var det en teatervän som gick bort. Jag visste ärligt talat inte ens att han var sjuk, hade skrivit många mail till honom och undrat varför han inte tog sig tid att svara. Så en dag postade hans kvinna på hans Facebookvägg en underbart vacker, sansad text om hans sista dag. Tungt.

Andra gången var härom veckan. Jag hade delat en länk på en musikerväns sida, varpå en främling skrev till mig att jag nog borde ta bort den. Varför undrade jag, gick in på hans sida, och fick lära mig att han nyligen gått bort.

Efter chocken sitter jag och scrollar på sidan — numera en minnessida — för att se vad han hade för sig, postade och sa före slutet. Makabert, särskilt att se ”12 people like this” under texten som förklarar att han inte längre lever.

Häromåret fick jag mail från en barndomsvän i mitt hemland om att hennes mamma gått bort. Tänd ett ljus skrev hon, och skickade länk till en sida där man tände virtuella ljus för sina bortgångna.

Nå, det kan jag leva med, även om jag inte direkt tänder (sic) på idén.

Men ljusen räknades också — vad ska man annars med statistik till? — och folk hade också tänt ljus för Jesus, Jungfru Maria och Michael Jackson (!).

Här kan man snacka om tävling in i döden. “36113 ljus har tänts för Annika, varav 1205 fortfarande brinner.” 36113 ljus! Hon ledde över självaste Jungfru Maria, som bara hade 25487 ljus.

Själv gick jag till den lokala kyrkan och gjorde på det gamla viset. Ett flämtande stearinljus är något annat än en JPG-bild. Att ta sig till kyrkan, placera ljuset i en ljusbärare, tända det och i tysthet sända tankar till den bortgångne är något annat än att sitta vid datorn och klicka fram en sista hälsning.

Det är många medmänskliga handlingar och gester som ersatts av ett klick. The Hungersite inspirerar oss sedan 1999 att skicka mat till fattiga genom att, just det, klicka. Fint och så, men när medmänsklighet blivit så till den grad strömlinjeformad att den bara handlar om att röra ett finger blir man bortskämd och stegrar sig inför krav på större medmänskliga handlingar. Som att resa sig ur stolen. Eller gå ut ur huset. Lyfta något tungt. Säga något som är svårt att framsäga.

Själv har jag två önskningar angående mitt eventuella frånfälle (det kan hända i morrn). Jag vill inte att mina vänner ska få nyheten genom Facebook. Och jag vill inte att någon ska tända virtuella ljus för mig.

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