Saturday, July 30, 2011

On... Love?

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 For being withdrawn, stiff, hard to get to know.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.


Kelly said...

I did not know any of this about the Norwegian people. Very interesting.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Think the climate has a lot to do with this, 'British stiff upper lip', but it would need a heart of stone not to have been deeply saddened by all those deaths.

sue said...

The Norwegians I've met just be atypical then? The love and wisdom expressed during this last week have been inspirational. Huge thanks to Norway for sharing with the world.

I like your Labels ;)

David L Macaulay said...

it is bewildering for Norway - in Britain we grew up with terrorism butyou just don't expect such terrible events in Norway

Marjorie said...

You know, my mom told me the very same things about Norway and Norwegians. She told me that no one smiles at each other in the street even though Norwegians are constantly outside. I thought that was strange, but I guess every country has its quirks.

She also told me that Norwegians barely ever say "I love you." She actually related to me the more common phrases enough that I know how to pronounce them. Ha! But only as far as she knew how. Apparently, Norwegian is a very hard language to pronounce correctly.

Marjorie said...

One more thing. I am very impressed with Norway in this hard time for your country. It is great that you all are able to come together and support one another.

Jemi Fraser said...

The world is indeed very proud of how you have reacted in the face of such tragedy. Strong, kind and full of love. *hugs*

Liza said...

It is not unusual that a tragedy of this magnitude would bring out any one, in any country...but especially one that has been so peaceful. You have written beautifully, again.

Giora said...

Came to your blog via your comment on Sarah Lapolla's blog. Best wishes to you and Norway after the bad news. If you write a novel set in Norway, readers can learn about the people and the country. Just like they learn from yoru blog.

Deb and Barbara said...

I guess I didn't associate this quietness of emotion with the Norwegians. While it's an interesting discovery, what impresses me most of all is your description of the new open love. That is so beautiful.
xo Barbara

Powdered Toast Man said...

google told me that floskel means ham sandwich.

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

You have a fabulous blog! I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: Powerful Woman Writer Award for all the hard work you do!

Go to and pick up your award.

Nicole said...

What a very warm, informative and touching post with a little bit of light humor sprinkled in. I LOVE it.

Thanks to your post, I have now learned a little more about Norway and the people that reside within....which is a lot more than I knew prior to reading this post.

Tragedies like the recent one in Norway often bring sunshine in forms that we least expect, such as expressing great emotion and love for one another. It is a blessing that also serves as a reminder that saying "I Love You" is actually not hard at all. It seems less easy to do when we either take it for granted or view it as hard work because we would rather be doing something easier.

Since nothing worth having is easy to obtain, including love, saying those words can be used as exercise in communication in hard times so that they are just as easily shared during good times.'

I'm glad to have found your blog during the post challenge challenge of our A to Z list from back in April :)

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