The dwarf and the poet

How to be true to who you really are

Have you ever met a dwarf, or a good spirit? Let me tell you about this one.

Every farm, maybe every place needs one. For the farm where I currently stay, it is Hans-Oskar. He is a neighbour, in his sixties, small, with white hair and beard and a pot belly, just like a proper dwarf. Every other day he materialises, and whatever problem he finds, he solves. He mostly maintains the old tractors. He is not paid and was never asked for help but his assistance has become crucial.

Then again, like a proper dwarf, he’s a bit weird. Comes into the kitchen without knocking, eats without washing his hands, makes jokes that nobody laughs about. But he is very kind. Turns out that he owns three guitars and plays them all, and because I wanted to make some music, he lent me one.

It was Midsommar last weekend and he was invited for coffee and later for dinner. At some point he showed me some youtube videos of songs he likes to listen to and plays himself. There was American blues, and there were Mexican Rancheras. I was impressed.

Later in the evening he made music himself. It’s a bit weird to hear “Bed of Roses” sung by a white-haired pot-bellied dwarf with a deep Finnish accent, but it fit well into the whole atmosphere. He also sang “You raise me up” (Yooh raas mee upp), first in English and then in Swedish. We sat around the dinner table and joined in a bit, and when he had finished, we clapped.

I asked him who wrote the Swedish part. He said he had done it himself.

I asked: So you are not only a musician, but even a poet!

You know what he said: Yes! And everybody laughed. Because especially here in Sweden it is common to dismiss it if somebody makes a compliment. Everybody expected him to say: Oh no, I am not a poet, I am not even good in poetry, this is just amateur stuff… Instead he was true to what he did and what he was complimented for.

That is very important and very healthy. It might seem modest to reject it if somebody says we did something well or we look good or we have a special talent. But we need to acknowledge our abilities, too.

Are you up for a challenge?

Next time, when somebody says that you look beautiful, just say Thank You! Next time, when somebody admires your work, don’t tell them that it’s nothing or that it could be better. Say Thank You. Next time when somebody says that you are not only an insurance agent but also a chef, not only a mother but also a magician, not only a mechanic but also a songwriter – don’t dismiss it. Say yes! Like the dwarf who honours his talents. It feels really good!

Will you? Let us know in the comments below!

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Rest your brain – Work your hands

One simple change for a creativity boost and a clear mind

So I was stuck. You might know the feeling. Burned out, empty, exhausted. I had delivered the thesis and what was left in my head was nothing more than white noise. And guess what saved me? Farming!

To Nirvana via beans

Here I am on my friends’ farm, sowing lettuce, weeding raspberries, planting leek, adding straw on the strawberries, taking care of the tomatoes, living in a caravan, showering in the river. Sounds idyllic, but it’s also very hard work. However, I almost reached Nirvana when sowing beans, on the back of a tractor, letting the beans drop to the ground: one by one, always in the same rhythm, in an everlasting chain of constancy that should never be interrupted.

Swedish farm life

In the afternoon I am free. So I had time to make a grass crown. We are close to Midsummer, one of the most important holidays here in Sweden, and grass crowns are a very old tradition. In fact they are almost forgotten. People used to make and hang them in the house shortly before Midsummer as a sign for hope for a good harvest. They dry and crumble, but they remind people throughout the year to look forward to the harvest and be grateful for it. And in the next early summer, they are thrown back to the field with all the old dust of last year and there is space again for a new crown.

grass crown

Finally – Liberation!

Picture a sunny day in June, slightly windy, but generally warm and summerly. My head is still a mess. I’m in limbo and a bit lost about what will happen. I can’t think properly. I go and cut grass and let the farmer show me how to make a grass crown. Then I sit an hour or two and make it. I sit in the sun, on a bench, my back against the red wooden wall of the old barn. One blade of grass after the other I tie around the ring, always the same movement. And while my hands do the work, my brain finally gets rest. The ever turning wheels in my head come to a halt and my head feels aired afterwards.

Do something. Now!

You don’t necessarily have to join farm life or start tying grass around a ring. Do the dishes. Paint the walls. Chop the wood. Plant some flowers. Cut a tree. Iron the clothes. Work your hands! Rest your brain! Just start, and then keep going.

How do you rest your brain? Let us know in the comments!

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Lessons learned in May

I recently discovered how a change in my attitude towards people changed their behaviour. It is one of those lessons that appears over and over again. Last month, for example, I got some really helpful advice from someone I consider rather incompetent. And I suspect that it has to do with me throwing all my prejudices over board. Instead of thinking: He won’t help me anyway because he has no clue of what he’s talking about. I thought: Let’s see what he has to say and not judge in advance. Instead of behaving bored or rude or arrogant, I listened and smiled and asked questions. It worked!

Therefore Lesson Number One is:

Be kind to people and they will be kind to you. Stop hating. Love instead.

I also found out something about the people I already like. It took me quite some time to become close friends with people since I moved to Ö. And just before I left, after finishing the course at university, we had so much fun, as you can see here:

In the beginning I was not so sure about finding friends in a town where I would stay less than a year. Now it is hard to leave them behind.

Lesson Number Two:

Friendship takes time and becomes the deepest shortly before you have to part. Therefore treasure the moment!

In all this monthly review of May one thing didn’t appear very strongly: the master’s degree I just received. I never went to the graduation ceremony and have not been at university or in any contact with them since I finished. There is still a bit to do, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Lesson Number Three:

Come for the course, stay for the people and the town and the adventures. Life happens in the outskirts. University is just the entrance to it.

What did you learn last month? Share your lessons in the comments below!

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