Tag Archives: Gratitude

The Beautiful Diversity of Being. Perspectives and (Analog) Nostalgia.

It’s all about perspective. If you lay on your back on the parched ground, you will see bright blue skies through the opening formed by your body in the tall elephant grass. It is yellowed and crispy. It does not move. You see, there is not a breath of wind. Air is vibrating in the heat adding shifting patterns to the sky.  And you think of dance. Relaxing, slow dance of the universe.

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Traditional dancers in Zimbabwe early 1990s

If you sit up your perspective changes. You see a thick wall of dry grass. Covered in dust it is still standing, proudly reaching for the skies. More out of habit than anything else. Elephant herds have not yet passed by here, and the sun has not yet completely broken its back. But it knows from experience that not a drop of water will come down for a long time.

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An elephant family crossing the Luangwa river, Zambia,  late 1980s

If you stand up in the midst of the dry grass your perspective will change yet again. You will see the river flowing by. Its speed has slowed down since the rainy season and its banks are higher now. But it still transports the lifesaving elixir to all in need, people and wildlife alike. 

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Luangwa River, Zambia,  late 1980s

Beyond the river you can see an acacia tree silhouetted against the sky. And a lone giraffe seeking shelter from the burning sun. Still months to go before the heavens will open, making the rivers overflow their banks and bringing the savannah to life again. It will get worse before it gets better.

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Giraffe in Kenya early 1990s

These are but a few perspectives on Africa. As seen from a small patch of tall elephant grass.

Before experiencing Africa in the late 1980s to mid 1990s I had no idea how much this continent would adjust my perspectives on life. And of those sharing my journey.

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Fresh from the plane. Our first day in Africa (Lusaka, Zambia) late 1980s

I embarked on this journey to widen my horizons, and to add to my perspectives on life. I hoped to gain a better understanding of the human experience through immersing in cultures and traditions so different from mine. I wanted to experience the wild. And hopefully to do some good along the way, however insignificant.

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Attending a traditional coffee ceremony in Ethiopia in 1990
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Performing Lingala songs in Kampala, Uganda mid 1990s

Those were my hopes and expectations, but I had no idea of how much the rest of my life would be influenced by Africa. That I would feel the passions and pains of its people in my bones. Develop a lifelong love of the wild creatures roaming its savannahs. And come to embrace, at least partially, the differences and similarities of lives lived under the same sun in various corners of our precious earth.

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A young dancer in Livingstone, Zambia, late 1980s

What I learned gave me a firm respect for life, and overlapping perspectives to observe it from.

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Life is about following your path. Sometimes it may mean leaving behind the safe and familiar to experience the pulse of something new and different. To leap into the unknown in order to contribute, to learn, to discover and respect other perspectives than those one was born with. To see the beautiful diversity of being. aulikki-and-dylan-birthday-2016

Last week I grew a year older. An excellent opportunity to reflect on what has been. Thinking back to this meaningful passage in my life, I feel nostalgia. And tremendous gratitude for having had the privilege to peek into life on this old continent over several years in several countries. Despite some hazards and heartaches, my eight years in Africa rise to the surface among the good things that have enriched  my life experience. I appreciate the hardships and the blessings. Africa captured my heart.

On my birthday I found nostalgia right there in my lap, together with Dylan. And went to try on my Ethiopian national dress. It still fits.

 

Connection – A Poem

It’s in the evening I see them. The sand crabs. Hurrying home from the day’s work. When the voice of the wind has become a barely audible whisper. And the ocean is almost still. I watch Mother Nature go to rest.

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As the birds arrive home from their last flights, I sigh. Exhale all my worries. Dip my toes in the water, and feel the peace. Soul-deep gratitude to be alive. At this moment of connection to pure love.

Sunrise Walk with Mother

Found a little bird at sunrise today

And I saw you, Mother, in a mythical way

So young, vibrant and full of life

Just few short months before you left

Us children, by cancer’s theft.

*

The little bird sang a beautiful song

And I heard your voice, no longer so strong

“My children, I love you”

That was your last Mother’s Day

The next morning took you away.

*

The little bird looked right at me

And I felt you, Mother, warm esprit

I told you we grew up missing you 

But made it through life, somehow

You are a great grandma now.

*

The little bird took in the morning’s calm

And I sensed you around, a soothing balm

My eyes welled up with gratitude

I picked a flower thinking of you

And the little bird flew its way too.

Happy mothers day

Epilogue:  I was working on the third verse of this poem when a small bird came to sit on the lounger just outside the glass doors to my office.  It was just like the bird I saw in the park at sunrise. It looked straight into the room. Then it flew to the glass door itself, hung onto the vertical glass surface with its little feet for a few seconds, and looked in again before it flew away. Quite magical.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!

Remembering My Mother

Today is August 13. It’s my mother’s birthday. She would have been 82 today. I was only in my teens and she was in her thirties when she was diagnosed with a melanoma. You know, she loved the sunshine. As soon as the first warm spring days came along after the long and dark Nordic winter , she would lay in the sun on our roof terrace on her days off. And every year, without fail, she would get sun-burned. There was no SPF 45, nobody talked about the dangers of the sun. And there was no chemo therapy to talk about. So within a year from the diagnosis she was gone.  My dad, my sister and I were devastated.

I remember singing a duet in the church at her funeral. It was surreal, like I was performing at the funeral of someone we hardly knew. When I thought of her death, I just felt anger. Why would anyone need to leave so young? It was not fair. I am sure these same feelings are experienced by most people who lose loved ones at/of young age.

Although my mother’s early departure forced both me and my younger sister to grow up fast and take responsibility for our lives, it took a long time before it all really sank in for me. Even when I came home from college for a weekend, I remember expecting to find her there. But gradually, over the years,  I came to accept that her life, for some reason unknown to me, was to be a short one.

Now I think of her with love and gratitude. She had her shortcomings, like all of us, but she was a beautiful human being, an early career woman and a wonderful, loving mother. She brought us up with strong values, unwavering faith, warmth and caring.  I’m sure she’s been watching us all along from where her young spirit found its home. I know that these early experiences have contributed to how my life path has turned out. I can only hope she likes what she’s seeing.

These roses are for you dear mother,  from all of us, including your sweet great-granddaughter. Happy Birthday!

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