10 Oct Can you go away to find yourself?
Amsterdam at dawn, one block from our apartment.
Finally here, in Amsterdam! There have been two intense last weeks in Stockholm with the premiere of the blog, but now I’m off. I love Stockholm and Sweden – during the summer months. There are so many people talking about them wanting to be abroad during the winter and I’m grateful and happy I dare and have the opportunity to take the step. But apart from the weather, there are other reasons to live abroad. One of my spiritual teachers have told me that I need to stay away from Sweden for a longer time to unlearn some of the Swedish behavior patterns. So therefore I’ll hang out in an apartment in Amsterdam and smoke weed until May, before I go home with dreadlocks and a long beard.
Joking apart. Amsterdam is a stop on the road since Tantra is growing a lot here right now. But the thing with behavior patterns from home is interesting. In each country and local culture there are unwritten guidelines for how to behave. In Sweden you have strong integrity and you are independent, but you should at the same time be politically correct and not stick out. “Jantelagen” (not appreciating other’s success) is still strong in our country and people are not very open to strangers. The Swedish unwritten dream is to have what everyone else have in order to fit in. The American dream is to succeed in your own way, to dare to stick out. In the US, people are often open and easy to start talking to, but they could be overly positive and happy. “OH MY GOD, THAT IS AMAZING!” It is not genuine, for a swedish person it clearly shows that this is a mask. In some countries in Asia you should not show any emotion, whereas in southern Europe one gesticulate wildly as if it were a bomb attack when someone parked the car in the wrong place.
I visited two friends in Tanzania last winter. There I saw that you play dumb when you get the wrong food in a restaurant. Funny to watch, but probably it is more effective to be natural rather than using different masks to cover up the truth. That is, saying what you think. Personality comes from the Latin word “persona,” which means – mask. Our personalities are nothing but masks and we also have collective personalities depending on where we are born. It becomes clear to us when we travel to other cultures and make fun of how weird they behave. We see their fake personalities. And they see ours.
Therefore I thought it would be an interesting experiment to let perhaps ten people from different cultures socialize a few weeks in a Big Brother setting. The goal would be to help each other to uncover each other’s Egos, the weirdness we’re doing that is not natural. A Swedish would see straight away if someone from Tanzania plays dumb, and the African can see that the Swede is stiff in the body and perhaps overly serious. In this way we can help each other. Many see integration as a problem, but in light of this I see it is as a possibility. An opportunity for diversity and development.
What my teacher said to me was that if I stay away from Sweden long enough and do my spiritual practice, I’m going to see the Swedes oddities much clearer when I get home. Maybe I can avoid falling into the same patterns and instead be more free and natural. Sure, I will stick out, but it is an exercise in itself daring to be myself. Behind the personality is our real character and there are as many characters as there are people. It is natural that everyone is different, if people are free. Those who have lived abroad for a long time know that it can be very rewarding. Some of you who go away for a couple weeks on vacation, sure it makes a difference to your life and creativity?! Imagine then what a year could do.
For my part, I think I will dare to go explore more in new environments. I could try go downtown in girl clothes for a day, like I did at the dance in Bali (My God that is embarrassing). Maybe I can see if I’m attracted to other kinds of people than at home, now that I do not feel that the Swedish society, mom and dad are around the corner. There may be new conversational subjects and exciting encounters. Think about it, the whole world is open to you! What is the probability that you live out your full potential if you stay in the area where you grew up, work with something that is expected of you, go to the same restaurants your parents do or spend time with those you were placed in the same school as? How can you then find out talents and interests you may have that are outside the norm? I am not against maintaining relationships from childhood, it can be beautiful. But I believe in breaking free and then choose where I develop the most, feeling free and happy. Maybe home, maybe away or perhaps in between. Take your chance, create an adventure! Who has ever regretted it?