Since last I wrote there has been a boom of sunshine, warmth and thousands of flowering tulips all across the city. The same, in turn, can be said about my mind. As winter has crept into springtime casting light on the world, and here sunlight can last about 21 hours a day, light and warm thought has occupied me like the changes of the season.
Stockholm is a vibrant city. The sunshine and long days have brought a smile to the city the likes of which I have never experienced. Parks have been flooded with people soaking up the sun and literally stopping to smell the flowers. The sun shines warm and bright and long, giving plenty of time to picnic and dance in the excitement of ridding the long darkness of a northern winter. It really is surreal to me to see this. Where I grew up the days were "normal". In the summer there were longer days but nothing like here. The sun sits around 11:30 leaving a dusk like glow and then rises again around 1am. When the day is in full swing the parks and water fronts are filled with people waving their Swedish flags, grilling and drinking. In Kentucky in the middle of the day the humidity melts a person like an ice cream cone in a sauna and usually leads to people staying inside with the safety of the air conditioning. This is not the case here. With a high of around 76 and very little humidity I can easily lay in sun, play volley ball or stroll through the city with minimal complaint, and then a cool sea breeze comes and blows any complaint right from my mind.
Easter is Sweden was incredible. Spring had sprung 2 weeks early! The sun and warmth welcomed Anne to Stockholm with open arms and blooms. The two of us explored the city daily watching the cherry blossoms pop up like magic, we witnessed flower gardens explode with color and ate some really incredible food.
I enjoyed learning about the Swedish tradition of Easter Hags. This is when children dress up as witches and go around asking for candy. Yes, it is a little like Halloween but with sunshine. It stems from a tradition of witches in Germany who fly away under the Paschal moon. This Paschal moon was unbelievable. Anne and I sat on a bench by the sea and watched the glowing orange moon reflect off of the glass still water of the Baltic sea. It was a moon like I had never seen; Incredibly large and possessing a glowing fire color that is hard to describe. It left me with a feeling equally hard to describe. All in all Easter was a great experience for me.
Now that I have been left alone here again to experience spring I have made a stronger effort to be out and make friends, and to enjoy every minute of the light I can. I have been successful in both. I have made a small group of friends that come from around the world. It is amazing to sit in a park with a group so diverse and talk. It is something that I could spend days doing and never get enough. It is so nice to soak up knowledge of different cultures and experiences. I am finding that the world is a small place. Aside from small differences the human spirit and soul is very similar no matter where you are from. We share the same basic desires and needs, and therefore have a connection that some people will never learn.
Now a quick thought on ruminative thought. Traveling alone has its advantages. I am given plenty, if not excess, time to think. To ponder the what, where, why and how's of my life and reasons for my adventures. I have stirred for hours these questions in my mind and feel like it would be a disservice to anyone who reads my blog not to describe the reality of traveling alone and the honesty of myself. Unfortunately it is not all sunshine and tulips. I have always been prisoner to my own mind. Never being able to escape. It is not a bad thing. For years it helped me be self-aware and that self-awareness of my surroundings helped me to leave the things that could have trapped me for a lifetime. Spending that time by the creek in Kentucky I was able to objectively see and judge my surroundings picking from them the ones that I wanted to keep in memory and learn from and the ones I needed to pass over and leave behind or else they would drag me down. Gaining that ability to leave things behind, over the years, is what fueled the fire to be on the move. Now at 27 I see that the things that should have scarred me in my childhood left no measurable wounds. However it is stupid to think it didn't leave me with something. Here in the sunshine of a Swedish springtime I sat in a park and for the first time thought, and thought slowly and repetitively and honestly about why. Why is it that I have had the drive to move? A physiologist would say that the days I spent as a child covering and moving past any real connection to the fact that I had no father gave me a "gypsy" soul. I say this is probably true. There is no bitterness to the fact that I did not know the man. No pain inside or thoughts of "why didn't he ....?” Those thoughts were never there, but the work that I put into not letting those thoughts creep in and the time I spent passing over did put me on a "move". I have never been satisfied. I have always been on this constant search for more. A search for more knowledge, to see new things, go everywhere and do everything. I am not in search of who I am, for I know exactly who that is. Rather, who I am wants to see everything, meet everyone and do everything. This I am ok with. The things that should have left gaping holes in my psyche have not. I left that place mostly unscathed. Though no one grows up in a trailer park in Kentucky without a little of that creeping into their changed selves. For me it was a few years of financial irresponsibility. Now I am on the course to remedy that.
I sat in the park and tried to contemplate a million deep questions. I thought about them and realized what I have already known about myself. I left the things that should have dragged me down; I have the power to choose when to be happy and enjoy the sunshine and when to choose to draw the curtains. My soul enjoys the roaming and my mind couldn't live without it. This realization is the power of ruminative thought. Traveling alone has its advantages and I am becoming closer to myself and what I am capable of.