How much does our happiness depend on others? How much is not happiness unless it is recognized and mirrored back by another person? And what happens when we hang our happiness on another person’s regard and acceptance of us?
Yet another day of doubting whether it is worth seeking happiness again. Or is lasting happiness really happiness at all, but rather a contentment, peace, and quiet joy?
(Flowers at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand; April 2011)
Summer warmth during the day does not fool anyone. The green grass by the waterline has a yellow tint and the half-submerged rocks are the lone companions of waves now that the water birds are gone. Only the dogs dare to swim.
While summer chooses to drop the battle and regain strength, elsewhere another fierce battle prevails. Victory has only one hand to extend, and after the game is over the dogs may not be the only ones swimming.
(Helsinki, Finland; September 2014)
This blue marble may be the only planet we have, but it is also our playground, full of sand we can make castles of. Or draw pink river dolphins in. Or swim with the dolphins.
That beautiful place you’ve only seen in photos is really there, existing every day across the globe somewhere. What you consider a dream is everyday life and landscape for someone else. So why not set a date to go introduce yourself to that place and its inhabitants (dolphins or other)?
(Amazon, Brazil; October 2012)
Each morning, as the sun rose, I sat on the porch with my tea cup and watched a couple of thousands cormorants fly past out to the river mouth. For twenty minutes the air was filled with streamlined black missiles flying without other sound than the whoosh of their wings, determined not to miss breakfast. Each afternoon, a few hours before sunset, the black mass of birds flew back in to sleep in the trees.
Cormorants are skilled divers; yet their innate state is to float on the water. But are they buoyant because of their bones or their plumage? If birds did not have feathers, would they sink?
(Mamiraua National Park, Amazon, Brazil; September 2012)
Any given Thursday one could sit holed up in the office with the colleagues, or one could hike in the woods with the colleagues. For those courageous ones who venture deep enough into the wilderness, reindeer may appear.
(Nuuksio national park, Espoo, Finland; September 2014)
When the September sun lay low over the wheat fields we drove into town for a moment of music. As the last light wandered across the window, the church filled with crisp snow falling, bears and wolves wandering in deep pine forests, Nordic mythical beings dancing, and always, always an ominous backdrop layered under a wistful allure.
Many composers painted feelings. Jean Sibelius covered the canvas with nature landscapes. Sitting in the church pew I wondered whether Sibelius was a painter or a composer. Perhaps he saw tones where painters saw colors. Perhaps he was the most skilled painter, able to do what canvas painters never could: a bear illustrated by sound will ultimately conjure an image of a live, moving bear in our minds.
While dusk overtook the sunset, the double basses unleashed the bear’s heavy walk in the woods, followed by the celloes that sketched a fox trotting over the grass. And then the creatures were gone, overtaken by the wind in the pine trees, and my contemplations of the sinister undertow and what the inner world of Sibelius must have contained.
(Loviisa, Finland; September 2014)
The best beds in town. The best cocktail bar in town. The best lounge for working, chatting with friends, or just lounging. The loveliest bistro, most delicious breakfast, and most attentive room service.
And quirky angels in every room. (Nobis Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden; September 2014)
The manor had seen war, and hosted wounded soldiers. It had survived a siege and arrest of a rebel after being stripped of its handsome garden statuettes. When nobody cared about the past, and the future was spearheaded by the Olympics, somebody had the grand idea of clearing the Helsinki streets of drunkards and shooing them into the manor. Out of sight is out of mind, except for the house that diligently cared for them for forty years.
Two decades later the house cares for those who wish to escape, or gather, or simply breathe. Opening the creaking door I discovered a room more like a salon. Oh! the oriental rugs, the heavy chinz, the enormous crystal chandelier! And yet, how newly it all had been restored. Sinking down on the downy bed I stared out of the window, over the lawn towards the stream floating by. Garrison, hospital, drunk ward – in the storm of progress the appreciation of the past is often waved away. When space was the new tomorrow in the 1960s, all hardwood floors were covered with linoleum and everything that reminded of days gone by was swiftly cleared away.
Time, as we perceive it, only moves forward, but there is a major change in the third-millennial minds compared to the Atomic Age. We preserve traditions, restore old houses, and attempt to return to nature and pure values. I could not help but wonder: in this ever-accelerating world of ours, where technology races alongside science and our greedy minds, when, and how, did we end up appreciating the past, legacy, and crystal chandeliers?
(Hirvihaara manor, Mäntsälä, Finland; September 2014)
Hello Norway, you look good coated in gold. You make me forget we were just tossed around like a candy wrapper in the wind.
(Norway; August 2014)
Each morning as I stepped down into the hotel lobby, this rhino was dolefully observing the guests from a different spot. Perhaps the hotel houses elves cart the poor thing around the halls at night?
Never do I leave Gothenburg without a cinnamon roll the size of a pizza plate from Café Husaren. And this time also a gigantic chocolate meringue that barely fit into a lunch salad box. Until next time, when I intend to sample the EP-sized chocolate cookie. (Gothenburg, Sweden; August 2014)