Swimming Against the Stream

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1.     Beneath the layers (mid-October)

My dreams have been a huge concern to me since I was a child. I sincerely believed that in my dreams were the clues to my soul and to who I truly am.

Now having spent almost half a lifetime deciphering what my conditionings are, trying to shed the identity that was layered onto me like honey onto Greek yoghurt, I’m now so much more aware of what my conditionings are, what my escape mechanisms are, who some of the thoughts in my head belong to (not me!) and where some of my involuntary opinions and behaviours come from and even what they’re causing in my life so far.

Okay, I got this far. I know what was layered onto the plain, white canvas that I was when I was born.

And I was also very aware of my dreams all through life, what my soul was really speaking of, beyond the fears and psychological make-up painted onto my canvas through parents, society, country I grew up in.

Now I feel as if I am stuck somewhere in between. I am aware of those layers... and I am somewhat living my dream. And then what? Does that make me happier?

No, actually not. I enjoyed the search more. The search had such a beautiful mystery to it. Now I feel like things are not moving me in the same exciting, unknowing way as they used to do. Like I did all of the possible soul searching one can do. I used travelling as my vehicle for going far, far away from who I was, who I was layered to be, and I shed layer after layer through years and years spent being in environments that were not "mine" or "comfortable" to me, so that I had to face myself in a whole new and different way. I realised what part of me was my mother, which part was my father. Which parts were Swedish: cultural conditioning.

Now, being aware of what is not me, but just parts added on top of me, what remains?

I still haven't got very far as to what is the answer to that. The question still remains. Who am I? I have the life I dreamed of, the picture is good, everything is kind of in place and moving in a good direction.

But every day I battle with the past and the layers. On a different level though. I observe them. Sometimes I find it more comfortable to ride them all the way, allow them to whisk me away and take me to the ultimate emotions attached to them ‒ and sometimes I really just observe the voices chattering away about this and that. But they just won't go away.

That's a surprise to me. I thought that once you started the process of de-identification with all external things, maybe they would also stay away, these external things, they would leap out of my baggage. Maybe I'm just not strong enough to let them go.

 

I think I’m facing some sort of early middle-age crisis. I keep looking back at my life and thinking, "Why didn't I follow that dream all the way through?" Or: "Why didn't I do more with all that freedom I had?" and that makes me a bit sad. I feel as if such a huge part of my life is now behind me ‒ the exploration phase, the discovering, the adventure of finding out.

Now I am firmly grounded into the red earth of this small Mediterranean island, and I am on a whole different journey ‒ motherhood. Meaning I have to be more still, be in the moment much more, which was always very difficult for me.

I am here, living very close to my dream-life, with a very rich life behind me that I would never trade for anything. But still, not sure what this echoing feeling inside me means. Maybe it was always there, and I just filled it out with adventure and travel and study. I was projecting everything into the future, and here I am now, in my own projected future, a bit afraid to stop the movement, not really able to stop the movement...

 

2.     At home nowhere (late October)

The season 2014 is officially over for me, as I'm now leaving the island for my yearly mini vacation to treat myself after a summer of hard work.

The last time I left was on the 28th May, for a three night stay in Madrid (actually 28-31 May, with my son Pi and his grandparents from his father’s side) and now I'm heading to Mallorca with his grandparents from my side, for the 28-31 October. Hmm, funny choice of dates, I thought.

Living on this small island in the Mediterranean is causing me both good and bad things, good and bad thoughts and good and bad life experiences. As every place would, surely you would say, but it does somehow seem very extreme here, all of the good and all of the bad. After all, it is a tiny place, and extreme in some ways, and very dull and boring in other ways. I love it and I hate it.

Our environment surely does affect us, no matter how much we think we are steady within ourselves and our visions, belief systems and personality/lifestyle/opinions.

What is normal in Sweden can certainly be most odd here in Ibiza. And what is normal in Ibiza can clearly be strange in Sweden. To always be the odd one out defines us in a different way. Being normal, or part of a larger community living with the same visions, can be different than living as the weirdo.

When I first visited Ibiza, I fell in love with the feeling of incredible freedom this island expresses. The people who live here and inhabit this pine-clad stony little piece of land in the Mediterranean, all have chosen a very bohemian, free, hippie-spirited lifestyle and everyone is very non-judgmental toward others. It's so refreshing, coming from Sweden, where people love to judge and to call the landlord to gossip to him/her that the neighbour does not recycle or park within his white designated lines.

After living here for two and a half years, having given birth to a child here, running my own business here and interacting with the backbone of this society ‒ the local Ibicenco people and their authority system ‒ I have a different view on this whole hippie-peace-and-love-vibe.

It's freaking hard to get anything done here. Close to impossible, in fact.

Everyone who's travelled to India knows that getting one thing done per day is more than enough as a goal. That one thing can sometimes be something as simple as getting from A to B in a city and obtaining a clean meal for your plate.

It's the same principal here in Ibiza ‒ one thing a day ‒ not more. If you expect to get more done, expect to get sweaty, frustrated, pissed off and I’d throw in a few even stronger adjectives.

Here, things move at a painfully slow pace, and authority personnel love to say the word "NO". (So does my 18 month old son, by the way. In a very Spanish accent. "NO!")

Imagine a proper business meeting with two or three people dressed in suits, white shirts, shiny shoes. It all seems to be going well, until someone starts talking about things that are completely unrelated to the meeting. In fact, the person is talking about his private life, something vaguely related to the business meeting topic, and soon they are all comparing experiences. Once that's done, and everyone's laughed and joked about this particular thing, they all go on to repeat what was already said ten minutes before the private topics entered the scenario. And then, after the goodbye and wrapping up the meeting formalities have started, once more the repetition of all that was said in the meeting happens again.

And then, believe it or not, everything that was said three times, does not happen automatically. Unless you confirm it all again via email, text or telephone on the day it is supposed to happen, it will not happen.

Being Swedish, this is culture shock. I mean, in Sweden you say something once, for example you say, "At 11 am on Monday the 5th we will do such-and-such." And then that will happen, without having to repeat or confirm.

Sigh.

Here, pleasure and relaxation goes above everything else.

I am very very restless, short-tempered and I have little patience. Therefore, it feels sometimes that I am living in a little fish-bowl where everyone is sweetly enjoying their little bubble existence, and I am constantly trying to leap out of it, not able to stand their sweet little enjoyment. I go crazy, I get angry, I bubble with resentment and anger. I wanna get things done, I wanna move forward, I hate this stuckness and the mañana-attitude. Why do something tomorrow when you can do it NOW??

I used to like it in the beginning, the feeling of relaxing into the slow pace of this little island. But back then I had the contrast. I lived somewhere else full time, and I was only a visitor here. I had a structured life somewhere else. Now this is my life, and I am swimming against the stream.

I spoke to a friend about it, someone who is an extremely successful businessman, arriving in Barcelona15 years ago with nada and starting his own company which he now has sold; he’s retired, and surely is a millionaire. He claims the advantage for him was that he was a driven, energetic persona amidst slow paced, mañana-type people, and that was precisely why he could succeed in a place that is otherwise known as bad economy. In other words, he used to his advantage the fact that he wasn't the mañana type.

But I'm wondering to what extent I am still my restless, structured me. So here comes the part of the environment affecting us, whether we like it or not. What would happen if I was plopped down in Swedish society once more? I think it would be extremely difficult for me, actually. Already now, just visiting from time to time, I know I'm different, and with different views on life, with a different way of living. More free. Less rules. I’ve found I kind of loathe the Swedish fear-based system.

A lot of stressed London-types love to move to Ibiza to follow their Mediterranean lemon-tree dream of living in an old Spanish finca and having relaxed lunches with a lot of local wine and olives. But don't they find it hard to relax into it after a whole life of running?

Maybe I just need more time. Or maybe I will always be a little bit of me here, and a little bit of me there. The constant ex-pat who from now on never feels at home, completely, anywhere at all.

 

 

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