I think this affects our personalities. Swedish people are often silent, composed, organised, and on time for appointments.
The cold, of course, affects us. When it is cold, we tend to hold our bodies tighter, to protect ourselves. The more we have to protect ourselves, the more we hold the body; this, of course, affects our emotional life- we hold ourselves. We have only a few months of summer to release our emotional bodies, and then we go back to protection.
I think the fact that we do have a very functioning society does also make us hold onto it. We are security-junkies- the more security a human being experiences, the more we want to keep it, and hold onto it. This is human, this is survival- every human being wants to survive, and more than that, we want to be comfortable. And the more comfort we experience- the more we want. Sweden has a very high level of it, and we don't want to climb back down again after reaching the material and social top. We hold on to what we have. It almost makes us isolated, because we don't want to share what we have, because that might violate our comfort-level.
There are many positive aspects of a well-functioning society. But the negative aspects are those of isolation, loneliness, and depression- which is more than common in Sweden. This, I believe, is much worse for the quality of life, than poverty and struggle for survival is. If everything is, on the outside, perfectly organised, then there is nothing more to struggle for. This, in turn, affects our passion for life. Nothing to struggle for, no goals to achieve equals loss of passion.
I know a very wise lady, who has a lot of life-experience, who always says: "When you are satisified, you are old." This rings so true in my ears, not just for the individual, but also for the collective unconscious in Sweden. We are so satisfied on the material level, that we have become old. We lose our passion and thereby our dreams. We are old and ready to depart. We have "everything". Nothing to strive for, nothing to work towards. There is peace, there is milk in the fridge and bread in the basket, there is always clean water in the tap. If we get sick, there is a doctor at a very low cost affordable for everyone.
But the passion does exist within us Swedes, too. It lies dormant, deep inside, hidden beneath layers or safety and organisation. I have proof- I experienced it yesterday.
The weather was what did it.
There was a snowstorm. Copius amounts of snow coming down in big chunks, heavily landing on the ground, which is already full of snow and ice from two months of cold wintery weather. But it has been pretty manageable so far- the roads are cleared somewhat and there is a thick layer of ice, possible to get through, however slowly and wobbly, when we need to transport ourselves. But yesterday it was a different story. On top of the already just barely manageable conditions, we had about half a meter of heavy, thick and moist snow. It was a holiday, too- so not too many people were out, using the roads.
But we, us people who work in health care, and especially us, who go the the old peoples' houses, HAVE to be outside, no matter the weather conditions.
It brought out so much spirit and passion in all of us who had to manage, somehow, to get through the thick snow. It was a real show of human cooperation, passion, fun, laughter and strong soul fire.
Normally each person gets their phone, keys, and a bike- and sets off, alone. We might spend a moment together back at the office later, chatting about this and that over our coffee and lunchboxes, and then we go home to our own lives.
But yesterday, we went together in the few cars that we had to our disposal. We were giving each other rides here and there, waiting for each other, going to visit the old people together in pairs instead of one by one. We got stuck in the heavy snow with the cars and had to use our human force and power to get the car going again. Some guy parked in the wrong parking place- OUR company parking place- and I went up to him and politely asked him to move his car so that I could get in with ours- and this triggered a major fight between him and me, which in the end triggered him to NOT move his car just to "win" the fight, which ended up being a disaster for him, because someone else tried to get past his car blocking the entrance, and then got stuck in the snow, so that HE could not get out, and had to help the people who were stuck. Then HE got stuck with his car, and me and my colleagues refused to help him because it was his fault from the very start, but we were watching him digging snow from under his wheels from the second floor of our office, and we were more than entertained by this whole circus, pointing and laughing and joking about his stupidity.
Later as some of the colleagues ended their shifts, the rest of us were hanging out the windows, screaming at them to clean their cars better from the snow, teasing each other, laughing, and hollering to people trying to get their cars going, clapping our hands to men helping women get going. Everyone was loud, fiery, laughing, flirty and full of life-energy.
I was stunned to see the liveliness in peoples eyes, the actions of people, the communal feeling.
I think...because life in Sweden was no longer perfect. On this day, life was difficult- it provided us with problems to solve- and we had to draw upon our human resoruces of cooperation, passion and strength. And we all had plenty of it, and we all used it to the maximum, by helping each other out, fighting and screaming, flirting and laughing. When a human being is faced with a problem, she also faces her full capacity to live. And the thing is, it is always in there, always available for us to use. So why don't we, all of the time? Why don't we use all of our passion each and every day of this life; pour our heart and soul into each action, and do everything with awareness and effort? All we have is now- and if we only hold on to safety and security, we compromise the fullness of our huge potential.
Perfection puts a restriction onto everything. It minimizes movement and growth. If we have the guts to let go of perfection and just be alive in each and every moment, i believe life can be more rich and colourful, even on a regular tuesday, even at work, each and every day of our lives.