This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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A different midsummer

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Sometimes life throws us spins in a way that makes it impossible to fit tradition into the swerve. We reluctantly let go of unwritten rules, adapt, and survive. You may think I am going to tell you about a dramatic change in our family, and you may laugh when I let you know it is only about where to spend the midsummer – or rather, where not to spend it.

But for us Scandinavians, midsummer is sacred. Never expect anything to be open in any city or town – nor even service. Or functioning traffic lights. Helsinki is deserted. Everybody is gone to the archipelago, countryside or lakes.

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Midsummer is fresh birch branches inside the cottage, a barbeque with friends and family, a hot sauna and a cool dip in the midnight sun, summer dinner, games, laughter, fishing, and sunlight at 3 am. But sometimes, when life almost throws us off-track in the bend, we end up spending midsummer in the city. Instead of a  hot sauna we have flowers, and instead of fishing and games we have time together. And there will still be summer dinner and sunlight at 3 am. The Earth will still turn.

midsummer-3(Helsinki, Finland; June 2014)


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Sunday in the Duomo

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Four days of shuttling between Milano Congress and two hotels. Emails, conference calls, and on-site meetings; scattered with dashes to the shopping boulevards, late night dinners, and a crazy soccer game studio in the wee hours of the morning.

And then it was Sunday and the air was hazy and heavy from incense and slow tunes from the most grandiose organ. The Duomo does not shuffle its feet between passing centuries. It stands, never minding fashion fads, conferences, and people chasing the 25th hour of a day.

Regardless of which faith we claim, we all believe. And there are always candles to be lit in the Duomo – both in the last century and the next one. And so what is our rush really all about?

(Duomo di Milano, Milan, Italy; June 2014)


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Carpe diem, also in Milan

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It is the things we did not do that we regret the most. The words not said. The moments not stolen. The experiences we let pass. Oh, how I regret not experiencing the La Scala theater in spring a year ago. I vowed to go the next time I was in Milan, oh, probably 5 years from now. There it was, a missed opportunity to live today.

But life gives second chances. The essence of karma is to correct an erroneous action. Good or bad, makes no difference. The karma that kicked me this June was the chance to make up for lost time with La Scala.

There was gold, dazzle, and fluttering ladies in fluttering evening gowns. And the most unusual program: the Young man and Death, a drama in a dance showing us how death fools the loving even after we leave life. And there was Petit’s Pink Floyd Ballet, famous in the 70s and still fresh today. I accepted the second chance and discovered electric guitar solos mix wonderfully with geometrically coreographed ballet and laser lights, blended with crystals, velvet, and champagne.

Even the tiniest regrets, those small like grains of sand, can pile up to fill a beachful. Karma is our gentle friend if we let it be. No regrets, not even in Milan.

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(Milan, Italy; June 2014)


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The English

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They drive on the wrong side. They drink their beer warm – and a small glass of wine is as much as a large glass in Finland. The tube never works in the weekends. The trains never work during rush hours. They charge ludicrous prices for tiny hotel rooms in London. They say “alight here” on the tube when they mean “leave the train”. They do not accept cards in the cab. They speak between the lines, persist in claiming class divides are eradicated, and serve awful food.

But they heat the milk served with tea – and the tea requires no fruit aroma to have a flavor. They make clotted cream rice pudding. They gave birth to Coldplay and Muse. And they created London. Bloomsbury, Mayfair, and Notting Hill. And the Twinings tea shop.

What am I still doing in Finland? Why oh why have I not moved back to England yet?

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(London, United Kingdom; June 2014)