What is this - love - you're talking about? A grand word. Not often employed where I hail from. Many of us would consider it a floskel (google it). It's even grander, more unattainable in Norwegian: Kjærlighet. Å elske. I remember a song from when I was young(er): "It's easier to say 'I love you' in English," it said, in Norwegian. It's true. "Love ya!" Much more casual than "Jeg elsker deg" or even "Jeg er glad i deg".
Norwegians may be known for their naivety, innocence, peacefulness or good-natured pastorality (I like making up words that end with -ity. Deal with it). But also for a certain skepticism to new things. For being withdrawn, stiff, hard to get to know. Foreigners coming to Norway find themselves surprised at the empty streets after closing hours (and the fact that those closing hours are so darned early). "I'd forgotten that the whole country shuts down after 7pm," said a friend after an extended stay abroad. It's not far from the truth.
I think this is part of the reason that the last week have been particularly inspiring for many of us. Suddenly we're allowed to show your emotions in Norway. The Prime Minister, with tears in his eyes, admitting that he has cried over the recent tragedy. Grown men - tough, poker-faced men, normally - allowed themselves to be moved by the many ceremonies and memorials. Strangers hugging on the street. And all these words. Solidarity, community spirit, togetherness. Love. Even in Norwegian.
The world has been impressed, perhaps, with the Norwegian reaction to the atrocities. However, it is nothing compared to how impressed we are with ourselves. We had almost forgotten we had it in us. The quiet, everyday type of love that's been around the whole time, and the more "special occasion love" that only surfaces in weddings, birthdays and for those who celebrate Valentine's Day - it's all been spectacularly overshadowed by =LOVE=. #OsLove. Rose love. Love for each other, in large, shiny, glamorous letters in the sky.
Maybe these words are empty, floskler. Or maybe they are not. Maybe it doesn't even matter. It seems we needed them, now. I saw a tweet today, that made me nod: "This is the time to forgive benevolent floskler." (Pardon my French, er, English. Translations aren't my strong point, and I've grown fond of the word floskel today.)
I love that.