13 Jan

Page 46-48: A Warm Embrace

klem

“It sounds complicated and difficult”, Ingerid replies skeptically. She can’t help thinking about the situation with Sara and Silje and the words that just fell out of her mouth in defence.
“It might sound difficult now, but with the exercises you’ve learned you’ll see that your awareness muscle will expand and sort of turn down the pace for you. It becomes almost like you’ve hit a slow-motion button. Time will seem to stretch itself as if it was bendable”, Per explains and laughs at the thought.
With bright shimmering eyes he continues:
“In this slow-motion time, you’ll eventually discover several levels of information”.
Ingerid gives him a serious and doubtful look.
“Don’t look at it that way”, Per responds in a playful way pushing her shoulder lightly.
“See it as an exciting Universe that you’re about to discover. Find the adventurous part of yourself, the one that is full of curiosity and eagerness. The one that dives deep into the ocean looking for gold and diamonds”, Per says with a theatrical voice totally in line with the pictures that are adorning the wall behind him.
Ingerid laughs and feels relieved by his humour and his knowledge of the path ahead of her.

“What got you into meditation?”, Ingerid asks curiously as the waitress arrives with two large cups of hot chocolate garnished with freshly whipped cream.
“Mmmm….”, Per replies and looks at the tempting cup in front of him. He takes a sip of the cocoa and with a cream-mustache he says playfully:
“Now, let me tell you….”
His comedic voice and silliness makes them both giggle.
“Sorry, I can’t seem to be serious for longer periods at a time”, Per replies and laughs apologetically.
But then he seems to take her question into deeper consideration. He pauses for a moment as his face melts into honesty. Then he starts his story:

“Some time ago, my dad died”, he begins gently.
Ingerid looks at him with sad and compassionate eyes.
“No, it wasn’t that sad. Or… The actual sad part about it was that I didn’t feel a big sorrow. I didn’t mourn his loss”, he adds.
“One is supposed to feel sadness and grief when a family member dies, right? But I didn’t feel it. It almost felt like it could’ve been just anybody who died” he says and halts for a moment to think.
“You weren’t close to each other?”, Ingerid asks carefully and a little afraid that this conversation might end in tears. She turns around and lets out a slight sigh of relief when she sees that the coffee shop isn’t filled with a lot of people in case of an embarrassing scene.

“We were both close and not close at the same time. I mean…. I think we had a pretty normal relationship. I saw him probably four or five times a year and we talked a little every time… But he was never the talkative guy. He never asked any questions. I think he might have been a little afraid to ask about something that could potentially upset me. And then I think he was never able to accept my sexuality. It alienated me I guess”, Per says thoughtfully like he’s still trying to figure it out and understand him.

Ingerid gives him a warm smile and nods. He looks up at her, returns the smile and looks down again. After a short silence he continues.
“Anyhow. That’s what caused me to get in touch with a therapist who recommended meditation. Since then I’ve taken several meditation workshops. In the beginning I did it mostly to try and understand my dad. Then I did it to try to understand myself. But then after a while I felt like words became redundant and that an inner peace was revealing itself instead. I realized that I could dig deeper and deeper in an attempt to try to understand, but that the digging could go on forever, giving me different approaches and answers every time. With that realization, an answer appeared. I could search if I wanted to for words that would give me some sort of answer, but it would never quench the thirst inside. Because what I was really searching for was deeper than words”, he says ending the story with a warm smile.

Ingerid doesn’t know what to say. Silence takes the space instead and lets his words sink in. They sit in silence for a little while before Ingerid feels an uncomfortable restlessness. She isn’t quite sure she understands the point of his story.
“What is about this peace that you keep referring to?” she asks a little confused and puzzled.
“Oh, if you haven’t felt it, I cannot explain. It has to be experienced”, Per says softly with compassion.
“By the way: There’s something you should know that they didn’t talk about at the workshop. There are two kinds of experiences of silence. One could be described as cold. As if time has frozen to ice. This silence or stillness is often referred to as shock. Out of body experience. As if disappearing into a black hole that sucks all life into itself. Emptiness without life if you’d like”, he says and inhales as if preparing for an attack or trying to defend himself from something unknown.

“Then there’s the other experience of silence which is warm. Ever expanding and full. Like a mother’s warm embrace. Nurturing. A stillness that feels good throughout your entire body and that makes you want to stay in it forever. Like an alive presence”, Per explains while looking like he’s enjoying a warm hug with every word he shares. He then takes a closer look at Ingerid’s face to see if she’s following.
“If you’re uncertain whether you’re moving in the right direction, there’s a simple technique that’ll point you straight back. It’s simply smiling”, he says and laughs while reaching out his hand towards the waitress in order to ask for the bill.

“I think I got a little taste of that at the workshop we went to”, Ingerid says with a slight uncertainty.
“I felt this enormous silence filling the room for at least a few seconds”, she continuous.
“Well, then you’re on your way”, Per replies and smiles.
“When you’ve first had a taste of it, the thirst for more will drive you onwards”, he adds while wiping his mouth with a napkin after a huge mouthful of the hot chocolate which is now starting to get cold.
“Drive me towards what?”, Ingerid asks puzzled.
“Nobody knows”, he replies with a huge smile and a wink.
“I’m going to a concert tonight with some friends. Do you want to come?”, he asks while paying the bill on the table.
“Yes, I’d love to”, Ingerid replies remembering the plans she originally had with Sara and Silje. Those plans are definitely out the window after what happened in the cantina earlier, so she might as well do something different.
“Who’s playing?”, she asks curiously while putting on her coat.
“Deva Premal & Miten” he says on his way out of the coffee shop.
She gives him that puzzled look again.
“They do old Indian mantras in a modern way… It’s sort of hard to explain. Again, you’ll  just have to experience it for yourself”, he says smilingly and laughs.
“Ok, I’m in!”, Ingerid replies with a big smile and gives him a long warm hug. They linger in each others arms for a while. Ingerid feels like she’s starting to appreciate these long hugs more and more. It’s like giving a little extra time to each other in order to really feel the warmth and the good feelings between them.
“So, I’ll see you at the Logen Teater at 8pm then” he says warmly and walks back to his enchanted flower shop.

… to be continued…

Jenny Lane

11 Jan

Page 43-45: An Ocean of Possibilities

count

Chapter 7
“Hi, you’ve reached Per Hallsteinsgjerde. How can I help you today?”
Per’s voice is light and happy when he answers the phone and soothes Ingerid’s ears like balm on dry skin.
“Hi Per. It’s Ingerid from the workshop”, Ingerid says with the phone tightly squeezed to her chin.
“Hiiii Ingerid! How are you doing?”, Per answers lingering on the “i” as if hugging it while smiling widely. Ingerid feels the warmth spread throughout her entire body and it almost makes her swell up in tears again. What’s happening to her these days? The mood shifts go up and down as if she was entering menopause or something.
“I need to talk to someone who might understand what I’m going through”, Ingerid replies barely able to restrain herself from crying.
“Aaawh…” Per says with a compassionate tone.
“Meet me at the flower shop, and we’ll go and grab a coffee somewhere”, he continues.

Per’s flowershop is located on a side street to Torgalmenningen in Bergen. The façade of the building is decorated in a French countryside style with ornaments carved out of grey concrete. A few worn out wooden boxes with beautiful pink hydrangeas and purple lavender perks up the pavement and entices customer to enter into his fairytale flower boutique.
Ingerid walks up to the door but hesitates to enter. Per sees her through the window and responds with a few hand gestures signalizing he’ll be right outside. The rain is pouring down as it often does in Bergen. While waiting Ingerid tightens the mustard coloured scarf around her neck and kicks her legs together to avoid freezing too much in the cold fall weather.
Per exits the shop and quickly slips under her umbrella with a firm grip around her waist and says:
“Come! Let’s go somewhere and grab a nice hot chocolate. We have to indulge a little to endure this weather!”
His voice is light and warm. A lightness in contrast to the heaviness she feels inside, which is exactly what she needs right now. Someone who can stand outside of her dark bubble, lift her up and push her forward into the light. Even though she doesn’t know him that much, he seems like the right person to do just that. So far he hasn’t disappointed.

Per looks at her underneath the umbrella with a warm smile and squeezes her even closer to his body several times on their short walk to the coffee shop. The most wonderful thing about Per, is that she knows that all his warmth and love towards her is simply unconditional kindness and nothing more. If he’d been heterosexual she probably would’ve gotten suspicious and analysed his body language with a negative connotation. Knowing that he’s gay makes it easier for both of them to relax and shower each other with full support and loving kindness. Or more accurately, it makes it easier for Per to shower Ingerid and for Ingerid to receive. There’s not so much showering going on the other direction yet, but Per doesn’t seem to mind. He’s shining with a carefree life energy that seems to effortlessly exude out of him.

“I wish I could be just as relaxed and joyous as you are”, Ingerid admits to Per underneath the umbrella.
“You are going to soon, Sweetie. It only takes a little effort everyday. If you look at your brain as a muscle, you’ll see that it simply takes a little bit of exercise, time and compassion. And don’t forget, you’re on your way already! A: You’ve just recently discovered that it’s a muscle, and B: you’ve just learned a few exercises. With a little training, you’ll see the fog lifting a little bit day by day”, Per explains as if he was her fitness instructor.
Ingerid knows he’s referring to the exercises from the workshop they went to, but nevertheless she still finds it slightly difficult and abstract.
“I’m not so sure if I’m that good at it. What if I continue the way I’m doing right now, which might be wrong, and then it doesn’t work at all. How do I know that I’m doing it right? How do I know it’ll work?” Ingerid asks with frustration hidden behind every word.
“As long as you’re doing the first task which is to simply return to focusing on your breath, you’ll eventually discover you’ll be able to maintain the focus for longer and longer periods at a time, until the concept of time disappears entirely. That might be the first evidence. Other things you’ll perhaps start to notice is that you might become aware of a consciousness in the background. Especially if you find yourself in a situation that pushes you to the limit. All of a sudden you may experience a new insight, a voice, a vision of a new direction or choice of reaction in that moment”, Per explains further while opening the door for her to the coffee shop “Barfot”.

Ingerid shakes the umbrella, stamps her feet on the floor mat, loosens her scarf and takes off her woollen hat in the little entry hall. The coffee shop and restaurant is warmly decorated with beige leather benches and terracotta colored brick walls. A few sharp looking bar stools in black leather and metal up against the worn out brick wall gives a hip and urban feel to the place reminiscent of New York. They walk towards an empty leather bench and take their coats off.
“What did you mean by the last thing you just said outdoors?”, Ingerid asks redirecting the conversation back to the topic that seems to incessantly pop up like an emergency alarm authoritatively demanding attention.
“The stuff about the awareness of a consciousness in the background when you’re pushed to the limit?”, he asks rhetorically.
Ingerid nods and gets into a comfortable position on the soft leather bench. Per sits down on the other side just across from her, orders two hot chocolates from the waitress and continues.

“Let’s say that a person accuses you for having done something you didn’t do. The usual way to react might be to speak up and defend yourself with all kinds of arguments and reasons. What you might discover after a while is that in the tiny fraction of a second right before you’re about to launch into your defence, you might see a sudden opening of opportunities. Like several choices spread out in front of you. At that moment, defending yourself with arguments isn’t any longer the only way to act. You can either react from autopilot or try something new. Suddenly you discover other ways of looking at the situation. Other ways to express your opinion. Other ways to express your voice, your body language. Other words and sentences. Other angles. Other perspectives. And in that moment, you have a choice. A selection of different approaches that enables different outcomes. And in that very moment you might be able to capture the cause and effect of every choice like visions of parallel futures. That’s when you have the real power of choice. In that golden moment, you’ll see which outcome you’d like to create from the situation at hand, and then choose the action from your enhanced vision that will most likely produce that result.”

Per examines Ingerid’s face thoroughly to see if she’s following. She nods, but not convincingly.
”When I was a little boy, I had a short temper and would easily blow up like an angry bull over simple stuff”, Per continues slightly laughing as he remembers a few incidents.
“At the time, my mother would always tell me to try to count to ten next time someone would bully me”, he says with eagerness and a light boyish smile.
“Wrapped in this little advice is the very essence I’m pointing at. Try to pay attention next time you find yourself in a situation where you would normally automatically react the way you’ve always done, and see if you’re able to stop and wait a few seconds… Just wait…”, he says and inhales loudly before he continues.
“…and see if there’s another way to respond to the situation”, he concludes and exhales with equal intensity.

…to be continued…

Jenny Lane

19 Dec

Page 34-36: Seeing the world from a new perspective

The weekend goes by quicker than Ingerid had anticipated. She realises there were other reasons to why she had attended the workshop than what was understood at first glance. An immense gratitude for daring to take a leap of faith and journey into this unknown territory filled with new people, new thoughts and new activities, infuses every cell in her being. A feeling that makes itself apparent to all of the attendees especially at the last session when they’re asked to describe what they’re grateful for. Tears of joy and gratitude run down their cheeks until there’s nearly not a dry eye left in the room. Even Karoline, Kjetil and Sigvart are moved.

Love and gratitude. Two very powerful emotions which everyone in the group agrees to dedicate more space to in their daily lives. A group of strangers that didn’t know each other on Friday have during this weekend formed strong bonds which make them feel like they’ve known each other for years.
When Ingerid grabs hold of Per to wish him good luck on his road onwards, a particularly warm feeling arises in her belly. Per’s eyes softens as he throws his arms around her in a warm hug. He then grabs her shoulders, looks her deeply into the eyes as to touch the depth of her soul and says:
“We’ll keep in touch, Ingerid!”.
The words come out with an underlying mixture of promise and command. Ingerid smiles while two teardrops run down her naked cheeks.
“Yes”, she utters barely heard through the sobs.
He squeezes her tightly again and holds her until the crying stops. A calm feeling descends upon her as she leans her whole body into his, her head resting on his strong shoulder.

They remain in the same position for a long time. Probably five or ten minutes, which would normally be considered an outrages amount of time for one hug, but they don’t seem to care at the moment. They know that everyone around them appreciates the warm and loving silence. What anybody else thinks about their hug, whether they think it’s lasting too long or being too intimate, doesn’t really matter right now. What matters to both of them is the gratefulness they both feel in sharing this special moment with someone who understands and is open to sharing feelings without words or descriptions. With someone who is able to stand and hold the space for another in need until the wave of emotion have rushed in and left again with a peaceful warmth in its wake.

The trip over the mountains back to Bergen gives Ingerid a little breathing space to work through the experiences over the past weekend. The wind grabs hold of her motorcycle clothes and shakes her soul like a laundry machine. It reminds her of the meditation exercises where she constantly had to shake off the thoughts in order to refocus on the breath. Her senses seem to have become sharper during the course of the weekend. All of a sudden she appreciates more than ever the high mountains in the background and the beautiful wildflowers in the foreground that dares to grow forth in the most vulnerable of all places.

The Ducati glides steadily through the winding landscape. Effortlessly climbing up mountains and easing down valleys. When the bike reaches the summit of a mountain the magnificent landscape of “Jotunheimen” opens up with a 360 degree view. Ingerid takes her hand off the steering and raises her back to take in the full scope of what’s ahead. Breathtaking beauty is beaming at her from all angles. In the absence of her right hand on the throttle, the motorcycle slows down accompanied by the recognisable hissing sound from the exhaust pipe notifying her to take a break like a trusted companion. She sees a viewing spot just off the road and decides to stop. She climbs off the bike with her eyes fixed on the horizon. Just across the parking spot a huge rock stands out. It seems to be the perfect resting bench. She fetches an apple from her pocket which she grabbed on her way out of the lodge and eats it while enjoying the view and the silence.

But the inner peace doesn’t last long. A desire works its way up to the surface. A longing of wanting to share the experience with someone. How is she going to tell her friends about the experiences this weekend? Would they be able to understand? Were there any simple ways to explain it to them? Or maybe she should just keep it a secret? Would they recognise that something had changed? Had she changed? Or maybe she would just glide back into the same daily habits of days filled with lectures, studying and partying?
A shiver runs down her spine. Her old life all of a sudden seems so empty and unfulfilling. Meaningless.

She stares out into the open sky and to the mountaintops that peaks like soft waves on the horizon. Her gaze rests into the wide landscape like an all-seeing eye. Seeing everything and nothing at once.
But the silence doesn’t feel warm and open like it did in the lodge. It feels rather cold and stiff. A noticeably change in nuance.
Then thoughts bursts forward along with the truck she hears approaching from afar.
“What now? What will happen to the plans she had for her future? What is she going to do? Where is she going to go? What is going to become of her?”

The feeling of fear grows further as the truck grows closer and closer until a crescendo of black heavy diesel fog fills the air and forces her to take refuge at a higher ground.
When the darkness disappears and air settles, she returns to her bike. “All I know”, she says sighing, “is what I don’t want to do”.
She doesn’t want to study law anymore, and she doesn’t want to become a lawyer. And with an inexplicable sadness she gets back on the bike and speeds through the mountains to confront her life at Dragon Mountain in Bergen.

Ingerid walks with heavy footsteps towards the cantina to meet her friends. Sara and Silje are visible from far away. They sit nonchalantly nearly laying across the table, laughing and discussing with loud voices. The bright light from the large panoramic windows behind them nearly blinds her as she approaches. Even though she’s physically close to her friends, the distance between them feels uncomfortably far.

“How was the weekend workshop? Was it good? How did it feel to get to know “the loosers?”, Sara asks while giggling ironically and looking at Silje for support.
It’s obvious they’ve been talking about how silly they think the workshop seemed. Ingerid feels irritated by their prejudice and hurt by them talking behind her back. Without much thought she blurts out:
“It actually gave me a lot! You might think you know the answer to everything, but maybe you haven’t looked at yourselves much in order to know if you’re really doing as well as you think you are. I don’t believe the happy façade you’re trying to maintain at all times. It’s fake! You probably have a few ghosts in your closet too that you might not want to reveal! Or that you might not even be honest enough to even know of!”, Ingerid argues with a sharp tone hard enough to cut through steel.
The ambience quickly changes from sunny skies to thunderous clouds.

“Have you completely lost it?”, Sara replies and nods towards Silje as she gets up. They both give her a disgusted look over their right shoulder as they walk away from the table. Ingerid is left alone.

Surprised looks and harsh glances surround her from all angles like stabs of hostile malaise. Social borders have been crossed leading them to protect their territory with utmost ferocity, treating her like an outcast of the pack. Not a single person approaches her with sympathy or compassion. Not a single person gives her a friendly smile. Not a single person dares wants or knows how to react differently than the others, and she knows now that she’s alone. Utterly alone at a crossroad of unknown futures.

Ingerid grabs her bag and walks to the study hall. Tears well up from inside as her body boils over with emotions of anger, betrayal and shame. With a sunken face she walks towards the space she has partially claimed as hers throughout the whole semester. She takes one law-book after the other down from the shelf above the desk and drops it into her bag. They fall like heavy bricks on top of each other. She doesn’t bother to stack them neatly. She just wants to get away as soon as possible in order to avoid even more confrontations or dramatic humiliations.

Why couldn’t she just keep her mouth shut? Why did she have to provoke others to the extent of becoming an outcast? Why did she have to put herself in a position of being wrong as others thought they were right? Had she been exposed to a form of brainwashing that she wasn’t even aware of? Maybe something was wrong with her after all?

Shameful and embarrassed she leaves Dragon Mountain as if she had been stoned and tortured. Confused and lonely she knows of only one safe haven to go. Her own little apartment which awaits her like a mother with open arms. She hurries in, closes the door and throws herself on the bed filled with soft pillows ready to receive her cries and muffle them into silence.

… to be continued…

Jenny Lane

New_Vision

29 Nov

Pages 23-25

Chapter 4
Elise wakes up with a strong headache. Her head feels really heavy and her body even heavier. She opens her eyes and casts a quick gaze at the alarm clock. 08:45.
“What day is it today?”, she wonders as she slowly wakes up into the world of human affairs.
Friday?… The lecture! Shit! She quickly gets out of bed and tears her clothes off, which reminds her of how she literally fell into bed.
“My goodness the clothes stink!”, she exclaims embarrassingly as she throws them in the laundry basket. She takes a quick shower and tries to remember what happened last night. Bits and pieces of scenes pop out in her mind like a memory puzzle, triggering a range of emotions from joy to pleasure to dizziness to pain to embarrassment and shame. It seems like her feelings spilled out uncontrollably and got the best of her. Through gathering her consciousness like a crazy person without all the reference points, she puts together a story that seems to fill in the gaps between the missing pieces. She works hard on the story while putting on make-up in a hurry. Her friends are probably going to quiz and try to make fun of her, so she better come prepared. While chucking down a couple of pills and a glass of juice, she grabs her stuff and heads out the door. Out on the street she throws her leg over the red Ducati motorcycle and races off to Dragon Mountain more concentrated than usual in an attempt to compensate for any residual shame or alcohol in the blood.

She storms breathlessly through the door to the lecture hall and sneaks by the teacher quietly while nodding apologetically in response to his stern look. Her eyes flicker quickly across the hall to see if she can spot Silje and Sara. There. At the other side of the room. They wave to her with thumbs up followed by quizzical expressions on their faces. Elise smiles and nods in response before she sits down and lets out a sigh of relief as she takes out her laptop from the bag.

“Wow, you went out with a bang yesterday!”, Sara exclaims nearly shouting it out as she walks towards Elise outside the lecture hall.
Elise giggles timidly while giving Sara and Silje a hug. They decide that it is more important with an update on yesterday’s events rather than studying, so they take to their feet and stroll down to Barefoot for lunch and chatter. The girls peek through the large, oblong windows that reveal two floors at once to see if they can spot any other friends at the café. The place isn’t filled up with students yet, so they walk in as if they own the place and throw themselves onto the leather bench while ordering three “Barefoot Club Sandwiches” accompanied by arrogant giggles.
The worn down brick walls and the illuminated alcoholic beverages on display behind the counter reminds them of the night before and sets the tone for hefty bragging and gossiping. They laugh and chatter loudly. Their daring and foolish debaucheries mixed with giddy embarrassment, acknowledgments and compliments, nearly intoxicate them just by talking about it. These precious moments of gossiping have almost become a ritual. An act of confession that wipes away all doubt, shame and guilt and replaces them with a whiff of acknowledgement-elixir. An addictive ritual they have established as an after-party habit in order to return to the source that drives them, and re-establish the purpose that makes them repeat the same party pattern week after week.

“Have you seen Tom today?”, Sara asks looking over at Elise with a smile.
“No, thank goodness!”, Elise exclaims so loudly that the people at a nearby table turn around out of curiosity. The girls embarrassingly hush at each other.
“You should’ve seen his face! It was as if someone had dropped a bomb on him. Shocked at first, then panic, then completely mad with anger!” Silje says while laughing in between each description.
“I bet those clothes had a lovely smell to them after a while”, chuckles Elise while Sara and Silje’s faces transform into ugly expressions of disgust.
“Ugh! Yeah, I’m not sure if you’re going to get lucky with him again, unfortunately”, Sara laughs.
“It doesn’t matter. I was actually just planning to sleep with him in order to get a revenge on Kjell. After all, they’re like arch rivals. I simply wanted to cast a fireball into their net”, Elise replies quickly.
“Haven’t you forgotten about Kjell yet?” Silje asks with a surprised and firm voice. Elise looks away and immediately regrets admitting her real motive for yesterday’s conquest.
“There are so many guys that are more deserving of you than him, Elise”, Sara says with a compassionate voice. Elise looks at both of them and feels the emotions start to rise again inside her. Within an instant the mood changes into something sticky and uncomfortable.

“Can’t we talk about something else?”, Elise asks harshly while straightening her back as if someone is pulling her up by the hair.
“Where do you want to go tonight?” Silje asks in an attempt to change the mood. It’s Friday night and the custom thing to do as a law student in Bergen, is to party at Feliz again. But considering last night’s events, they all agree to select a different venue.
“Maybe we can be a little crazy and choose a completely different hunting ground?”, Sara says while smiling slyly as her eyes wander back and forth between Elise and Silje. They respond by leaning closer into the table as if a secret is about to be revealed.
“Where to?” Silje asks curiously anticipating something new, unexpected and unexplored.
“We don’t have to go all wild and crazy since it’s already Friday and we only have a few hours to plan and get in action… But how about Oslo?”, Sara suggests smiling expectantly at both of them.
“Yes! Let’s do that!”, Silje replies enthusiastically.
“Per Olav has always said that we need to take a trip to Oslo and party with the law students there. Why not jump on a plane and go there tonight?” Sara says with conviction as if the decision has already been made.
“YES!”, Silje answers while lifting her hand in the air responding to a high-five from Sara. Elise nods and joins the high-five. She’s grateful to be offered a solution to the awkward situation and pleased that the activity will probably be engaging enough to keep her out of the deep emotional waters lurking underneath her skin.

… to be continued…

Jenny Lane