If I was to describe this week so far with a song it would be "Caravan of love". You know that feeling when you hear a song that brings you great joy and happiness but you've somehow managed to ignore it for some time and suddenly it makes its way through back in to your life? That happened to me on Tuesday in Stockholm among what seemed like thousands of people. The sunset was amazing looking exactly like the trendy drink aperol spritz and everyone seemed to be surrounded with warmth and love. I felt tired, my feet were hurting and I wanted to make the terrible choice of eating at McDonald's but yet I screamed my lungs out and cried tears of happiness behind my sunglasses. Stand up, stand up. Every woman every man join the caravan of love, stand up. Another message from the universe was delivered to me earlier that day. At a bookshop in the city center of Stockholm I saw "On the road" by Jack Kerouac. The beatnik inside me went crazy. I ran to the counter as fast as I could and walked around from one public transport to the other secretly hoping I would spot someone with the same book. The song and the book both remind me of the fact that I should have more days like this in my life. More of photogenic houses painted in pastel colors, more smiles at strangers, more conversations with people you haven't met before, more memorable walks after dark. It's funny how we often loose a part of ourselves into the routines. It sort of blends in like sugar in coffee. You can almost taste the sugar but your tired so that you forget that you actually are drinking coffee with sugar and not just plain old coffee. Just like that I tend to forget that I need to be uncertain to some extent, I need to not know what tomorrow brings because when I don't know there is room for me to feel and when there is room to feel there is room to create.
7 am. Some wake up to work, some to survive, some in order to love. Mr. Higgings didn't wake up for any of these reasons. Mr. Higgins woke up in order to smile. By 8 am a butterfly flew around his bike. By 8.15 he stopped to hear the sounds of the highway. At 9 am he started to smile. Mr. Higgings sat at a bench. It was the same bench that he sat on every single morning for the past 4 years or so. When most people rushed by, only seeing a list of groceries in front of them, Higgins saw within. Nobody had noticed the white bench he sat on either. It was there, among everything like a little reminder for people to sit down and breathe, yet it was easier to keep walking than to stop. What if you stop once and suddenly you can't move forwards anymore? Higgings knew that once you stop, your world slows down and then you first begin to understand life. The speed of life distracts us from reaching understanding, sometimes even happiness. Of course Higgings understood what running felt like. Running in the rain in order to kiss Dorothy goodbye. Running away from the mean kids in the neighbourhood. Running on the beach with his dog. Running was wonderful, but running was so often away to not think. Once Higgings first sat on that bench he understood something important. Some people can't run. They lack that one thing you need in order to keep moving forward: love.
So Higgings started to smile. He smiled to everyone who walked by. He smiled to those who did not notice, those who noticed but looked surprised, those who noticed but looked judgemental, those who smiled first. Hours went by. Higgings got up at 6 pm. Now he had completed his day of work he thought. That was until he saw a stranger approach the bench. A young man sat down on Mr. Higgings bench. He drank dark roasted coffee and smoked one cigarette each day. He wore red converse and dark shades. He pretended to read The New York Times while he probably listened to The Smiths. But Mr. Higgings only saw a person who had noticed the bench, nothing else.
- Hello there young man! I see that you've noticed the bench. Mr. Higgings said proudly.
The young man pretended not to hear.
- So you read! That's good, that is excellent. You know my wife Dorothy got me into reading. Before her I never noticed the importance of words, I only saw what was in front of me. The young man continued to stare into The New York Times. But inside his shades, a tear was falling down.
- You know I'm happy that you found my bench. It means you see things. I like people who see in feelings. The young man looked up and started laughing.
- Hey old man, you know I get that you have some stories inside you that you wish to share, but this is just a bench. We give it its meaning, other than that it's just a bench. Today I saw it and I thought that I should sit on it and that is it, just another bench.
Mr. Higgings took a deep breath.
-Young man. I'll tell you something. Not because I wish to share my experience but because you need to hear it. I used to run through my entire life. Everything just happened because I did everything in my power to have the kind of life we all strive to have. But maintaining it was a struggle. I had to pay the price. The price was to keep moving no matter what. If I would start to think or care I could not live the so called dream life. I didn't notice people. People didn't notice me. We just kept running. Until one day when I was searching for a smile. I was walking slowly among all those who ran. My world was slowing down. I felt how old I was getting. It's like I aged 20 years during that one day. I stopped running. My wife had just left me. In the world of runners she was a walker and she could not stand us runners. Running towards success. So I had to stop. I stopped so much that I quit my job. I stopped so much that I stopped pleasing other people or prentending to like something I didn't. I stopped so much that I had difficulty getting up in the morning.
-What happened then? The young man asked. I mean you're here now. Something must have helped you.
-Hmm..helped me? Like you did today young man I sat on this very bench filled with feelings I could not share. And on this bench beside me sat an older man than myself. He was just smiling openly and so I asked him why he was smiling, and he told me that it was his job. He told me what an awful person he had been when he was younger, and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing real work. Real work I wondered. Then he told me that a smile is worth more than any money or success in ones career. A smile can save lives, a smile can heal those who feel broken inside. He called it the happiness company this very bench that we are sitting on right now. The happiness company only had one owner and worker and it was that one old man. 4 years ago he left the city for some wonderful reason I guess, but I felt like I needed to take over the company. So this is my workplace.
-Then what do you do? The young man wondered.
- I just smile.
The old man walked away and young man felt warmth inside him and suddenly he started to smile and he could not stop smiling after that.
The human existence is so interesting to me. I mean how do we even exist? Almost all ordinary matter is made of empty space, including us. This means we are practically empty and surrounded by emptyness. If someone would take all the space in the atoms of the entire human race we would fit into a sugarcube. Think about that the next time you hold a sugarcube "this is the entire human race".
As a spiritual person I think the soul is what we call empty space. As humans part of the earthly experience we might feel like the soul plays a minor part of our existence but what if all the so called empty space is the spiritual world? We only know 5% of the universe and an average person like me without a career in science probably knows 1% but it's something that brings me peace to think about. When Earth life has you beliving in its importance it's still very little in the grand scheme of things. And it doesn't even rain diamonds like it does on Saturn fo example! But then again water is more valuable, water creates and protects life. I'm not sure how great our impact is in the universe (positive) but what we need to understand is that life is complex and our life is a miracle. With this important message in mind we need to remember to not take our lives for granted or think of it as something obvious. We are here but in a way that is difficult for us to grasp we are still visitors.
I sat for hours at the kitchen table yesterday. My Italian coffee tasted like heaven and I wanted to write a poem about it. That's one of the greatest pleasures, being able to enjoy something with all of your senses. I try to awaken my senses as much as possible because the truth is we sometimes push them away during our day to day life and this will actually lessen the enjoyment we experience. The easiest place to feel is nature. I recently found myself a little green hiding place which of course has a secret location due to the fact that it doesn't accept stress as you visit it. The second most enjoyable thing is other people. No matter how independent we are we must not forget that people are the source of education and inspiration. Without others we would all be egoistic.