Sunday, June 01, 2003

The good life?
This morning, I was planning a long, happy blogpost about the good life. I was in Ålesund yesterday, and listened to my daughter play in two different big bands. The whole family was there, as well as a sister in the role of aunt and her husband as uncle. I met an old friend from high school, who is married to the friend I have known the longest - since she was 5 days old, actually. His mother had been a friend of my mother as they were children, while her parents and mine had been neighbours while they were adults with children. My friends have kids the same age as mine, and with pretty much the same interests. Our children are not as close as we are, but they like and tolerate each other, pretty much the way we tolerate distant relatives: they are there, an inevitable part of our lives, and their presence is a reassuring part of a network to catch you when you really need help.

What I was thinking is how good this is. My friends have given up much for their families, for the life they lead now, because relations, family, roots were more important than their own dreams. I did the same, moving to Volda, which can easily be described as an academic backwater, in order to be close to my dying father and my weak mother. But as we sat there listening to the music our children made, close in the knowledge that our ties went beyond the scope of our lives, life felt good. Our sacrifices of personal wishes/dreams had been by choice, and while we might occasionally regret parts of it, that moment we did not regret anything. Our children are happy, bright, talented and safe, we are able to provide for them by way of our skill and education, through honest work (his a bit more honest than mine, there is something awe-inspiring about farmers, even in the days of tractors and milking machines), and due to the high standard of welfare in Norway we do not need to fear losing any substantial part of this feeling of security.

Today I am sitting across the table from my much beloved son. He is making me struggle through his maths, in order to help him prepare for tomorrow's test. Suddenly I am insecure. There is a reason why I did not study maths, chemistry or physics, and I am brutally confronted with that right now. Life feels a lot less good, and my insecurity leaks out into everything. I have been struggling at maths for 5 hours. There is not much of that happy confidence left. And I still have 3-4 hours to go.

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