30 May 2008

Values in life : What moving to the other side of the planet and back teach you

Life goes on. Leaving your friends, family and life behind for any kind of period does not mean they'll wait for your return with baited breath. They move on. They have lives. The country changes. At first that seems like a bad thing, but I'm not so sure.

One thing is for certain; nothing stays the same. When I returned to Oslo a few months ago after a self-imposed 4 year exile (which I honestly thought was going to last much much longer) I felt I had landed on a different planet. Still in a jet-lagged haze I wandered the streets of my birth city, not recognizing the place. Oslo was bigger, yet all buildings were smaller. It was a weird feeling.

It wasn't until I went into my beloved woods that I felt more at home, more at ease with the country I had left for those years. It's very strange, though, how your perception of life, universe and everything changes with a bit perspective in ones life. Learning the ropes of the alien world of Australia made me come home with a mixed bag of feelings, especially perhaps a lesson in what "alien" really means.

Some things are good here in Norway; the people, some foods, the woods, nature, real mountains, a beautiful language, public transport that works, loppemarked, a feeling of being closer to the world, political respect and the natural nurtured meaningful discussion with total strangers, and the living communities.

Some things are bad here; the way we treat foreigners, the beuorocracy, the price of everything, the lack of my wifes' crazy but much loved family and our wonderful Australian friends, lack of recycling, Vinmonopolet, the price of meats (not that we're big on meats, though) and veggies, and that it's harder to shop.

There's lots of contrast between our worlds, contrasts that makes you pay attention to what is important and what is not. And what's important? Family, friends and our happiness. And that is not governed by our opinions on big or small things; they are governed by our own mental ability to be happy with the best of what we've got right now.

We miss Australia very much, both the country and its people (except John Howard and his cronies; we don't miss them), and we know that our time in Norway is limited. We'll see you again shortly, we just need to wrap our heads around this Norwegian crazy first and then we'll be back.

Some of my Australian friends will probably wonder who paid me to say that I miss Australia, and some of my non-Australian friends will wonder who's threatening me to say good things about that place. I mean, unless I talk about the beach and cheap beer, what else is it with Australia worth fighting over? Or Norway, for that matter?

The people. The friendship. The food (although not Vegemite, nor lutefisk) and the drink. The sea, the woods, the sun, the moon, and the surf or turf. Every ingredient any good travel agency could whip up; it's right there, and you can fold your life around it if you plan for it. A beach in Australia is a svaberg in Norway. A beer in Norway is a good imported beer in Australia. The friends in Australia are friends in Norway; there's nice people no matter where you go. And there's family or adopted family in both parts. And, most importantly, life lessons.

It's so easy to accept life as it comes, judging your life based on what you got handed to you instead of what you went to grab yourself. But I needed to learn to grab things that makes sense to the life I wanted, and I can do this in Norway too, or in South-Africa, or Indonesia, or England, or ... It doesn't matter where you are; you can find your travel agency keywords, fold them into a brochure you'd like to read, and live that life. For far too long I've lived life as handed to me. Now I'm living life as I'm grabbing it. By the lapels. See you soon enough, wherever we go.

Ok, just a rambling note on a Friday afternoon. I'm now going to go home and have sausages with my lovely family, and enjoy the warm sun, the shiny waters, and the fertile woods. Have a nice weekend!

Labels: , food, , happiness, life lessons, mood, Norway

6 December 2007

So long, and thanks for all the smelly fish

It's time to reveal what's going on in my life on a big scale, hinted to in my last dozen or so posts.

Yes, I'm leaving the library world. Yes, I'm leaving Canberra and the National Library of Australia. In fact, I'm leaving Australia altogether. I'm leaving process-oriented committee-driven work (surrounded by the hum of millions upon millions of flies, one of the seriously exciting features about Canberra). I'm leaving good friends and colleges which I'll miss, and a cute house that's been a safe home and haven for the last four years. I'm leaving an extended family who - despite their better knowledge - have accepted me as one of them, with friendships that will bring us back to Australia in a few years, I'm sure. I'm even leaving behind our wonderful dog Oscar (in good hands, I might add ; he's going back to his original owners) which the whole family will miss dearly.

I'm going back to Norway, to work for Bekk Consulting again, and I start at the beginning of February 2008. I'll write more about my role there later, but needless to say these guys know what they're doing, they do it fast and really well, no mucking about. They do not meddle in the semantics of FRBR for 15 years before taking baby-steps to prototype it. Either it's the right thing to do, or it is not. And if it's not, these guys don't do it. And I can't wait to get back into the habit of not doing things we shouldn't do.

We've got a house lined up (in Oslo) centrally and near my beloved woods, and a car. We're scared and excited at the same time, and hope that our Australian friends will forgive us and cheer us on in our adventure, and our Norwegian friends welcome us home and invite us for dinner, if not only for a period.

There's many things I want to talk about, from the state of the library world, to the evils of recruiting companies, to Australian business ethics, the value of friendship, and how to plan your future (which is a short piece about how you can try but will fail), but all in due time.

Right now it's time to pack, reflect, and wrap up my Australian adventure in the most positive way I can. Watch this roof, and wish us good luck in our latest big adventure.

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