Monthly Archive for July 2011
A simple story about an ordinary person was told on the Norwegian national radio last month. Somehow I can’t keep my mind off it.
It is the end of June, and most Norwegians start to go on vacations, many travelling to other places. But some cannot travel due to physical constraints, for example the elderly people at nursing homes. So, a nurse who likes riding motorcycles came up with an idea – bundling a sidecar to his motorcycle and offering residents personalized trips, with comfort and fresh air.
It’s a beautiful day in June and it’s an elder lady’s turn to travel with the motorcycle nurse, Michael Raaberg. Michael is a strong man, and he lifts her up and puts her down in the sidecar like a child. During the ride, Michael asks how she does. She says, “Good, very good, never better!” with a youthful and cheerful voice. They drive through the Oslo city centre, they talk about different places they pass by, like old friends who haven’t seen each other for a long time.
The issue of safety, especially with residents with heart diseases, has popped up in the heads of the staff team once, but they decided that it’s much worse “locking up” the residents all year long. So far, there hasn’t been one single incident and the residents have never been happier.
Michael talks about himself. He was educated as a graphic designer and designed catelogues for Ikea. At the height of his career, he found his work lack of meaning and decided to become a nurse instead. Now he’s a happy nurse, bringing happiness into other people’s lives.
When people follow their hearts, they easily come up with simple and yet ingenious solutions to big problems, they naturally make a difference. I hope more and more people follow their hearts like him. I hope I become like him.
If everyone just had one single person in his life who says, “I will love you no matter what”, then we’ll never end up in mental institutions.
– Leo Buscaglia, “Living, Loving and Learning”
I passed by the centre of Oslo today, the day after the tragic events. The streets are fairly full again, although the never-before-seen armed soldiers guarding the parliament building bring people ever closer to what happened yesterday. There is nothing in the news, or on the national TV channel, other than coverage about the incidents. The nation, which had not hated anyone since WWII, has one enemy today – Anders Behring Breivik, the (or at least one) culprit, a native Norwegian who grew up in Oslo, and who is described by his neighbours as being “sometimes overly polite”.
But right now, I’m thinking of Anders Behring Breivik.
Who is he? Did his parents spend time with him, both playing and learning, when he was young? Does his family still live close to him, visit him and laugh with him? Did he, or does he have a mentor he could talk to when he’s stuck? Did he ever meet someone who would love him unconditionally, instead of saying “I will love you, if …”?
I thought of these questions when they said in the news that his schoolmates remember him but have not kept in touch with him. I found out that Timothy McVeigh, who detonated a bomb which killed 168 people in Oklahoma City (Oklahoma, USA) in 1995, did not feel he had a home and was rejected by women he sought relationships with. I found out that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the high school students who shot their fellow students at school in Columbine (Colorado, USA) in 1999, were bullied at school and turned to bullying others as a way out. I wonder what Breivik’s life was like.
Of course, everyone has had bad experiences and some people can shake them off better than others. But as family, friends, and fellow citizens, it is our responsibility to minimize these bad experiences and to help those who have had a bad experience to come out of it. I feel that we, especially those in Western developed countries, are not doing a very good job at it. We are not doing a very good job at preventing these incidents from happening.
Tonight, I’m thinking of Anders Behring Breivik.
Where fishermen from Northern Norway traded dried fish with the rest of Europe for hundreds of years …
And where the wharf keeps all the sweet and bitter dreams of the thousand-year-old city …
Learning Norwegian in the last while, my interest in languages has been re-ignited. Among other things, I’m been noticing the small words, or maybe non-word sounds in the three different languages – Chinese, English and Norwegian. One of them is confirmation interjection (I’m actually not sure if that’s what they are called), that is, the sound people make when they confirm something someone else said, instead of saying “Yes” or “I agree”. I would love to learn about variations in other languages; send them to me or teach me how to say it so I can add them to the list!
Here are the confirmation interjections in the three languages I know (click to hear them):
English (North American)
German (no weak confirmation interjections similar to the ones above – Thanks, Sophie)