Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reading - a favorite pleasure !

It is with pleasure I remember our bathrooms both in Uppsala and in Bromma with those deep marble bathtubs where, especially my Mother would luxuriate!  Submerged in hot water with bubbles and bath oil in little melting jelly capsules or just plain hot water up to her chin, always with a book to read and a cup of steaming tea on the rim of the tub.  My sister and I were always welcome.  We would sit on the floor and talk, trying to solve world problems or simply talk about books or school or how the day went. The subject matter was always different.

No such pleasure for my Grandmother, who had no bathtub and not even hot water in her apartment.  She would come regularly to bathe in ours and we would scrub her back and help her in and out of the tub since the sides were so high.  No reading books then.  Before my Mother moved into the apartment with the tub we would go with my Grandmother to a public bath house where she would bathe and sit in the sauna / the steam room.  Those are also "bathroom memories".  Somehow my love for books and reading started in those bath rooms.

From the time we were very young my sister and I read a lot.  We vowed to each other to read every book in the school library after we moved to Bromma, a suburb close to Stockholm.  It was quite an undertaking.  We started reading the books written by authors who's names started with the letter A.  Every time we returned a book someone else would return a book with the same letter, so getting through the books one author after another took forever.  How far into the alphabet we got I can not recall, we never made it to the Å Ä and Ö:s of that I am sure, but we did have fun trying.

There were the endless "Tarzan" books, the Edith Blyth detective series not to forget, "The Black Stallion",  also a series of several books.  The rule was to finish a book even if it was boring or not to our liking,  a rule that I do not completely follow today.  If a book somewhere in its early stages does not "grab" me I can put it aside today without feeling guilty, realizing there are too many good books to read, why waste ones time on something that is not interesting and does not allow an escape nor hold ones interest.  Today I have two or three books being read at the same time, something I never did earlier.  Today I have a book next to the "princess tub", one in the "stone room", as well as one on the armrest of our sofa here in the kitchen / dining / family room.

Currently I am reading John Irving's "Last Night In Twisted River",  Siri Hustvedt's "What I Loved" with a smidgeon of David Wroblewski's "The Story Of Edgar" thrown in.  Since I don't want it to end,  I am sucking on it like a lemon drop!

As mentioned a while back one of our neighbors wrote a book titled "Friska Fåglar Flyger" or Healthy Birds Fly.  The authors name is Bo Laestadius.  I ordered the book from our local book store and I just finished reading it.  It is a book dealing with "burn out" and his journey of ten years of difficulty accepting his fate with illness, insomnia,  hives,  and many other stress related symptoms.  Along with a bit of perhaps loss of  "identity".  I can relate,  remembering giving up my job as a Buyer at Hewlett Packard,  a job that made me feel important!  Before that Buyer position I was merely an Assembler,  or a Gold Ball Bonder,  or a Line Lead!  Bo Laestadius did not start in the "mail room" so to speak,  nor did I come close to the amount of money he made,  nor the fame and success.  But yes,  I do understand the loss of identity.  Bo also struggled with "keeping up with the neighbors",  in dealing with the Swedish Jealousy and Envy.  That is a disease that seems epidemic here as I see it.  I feel it,  see it,  and experience it up close and personal often,  much to my dismay.  I do not understand it!  This amount of envy is written about in books,  essays,  blogs,  and plays!  A class warfare of sorts.

Keeping up gets tuff...... Bigger houses,  more stuff,  working and working more, neglecting both himself, family and relationships, never feeling satisfied and happy,  unable to sleep.  Yep, sort of the typical American Model.

Not being able to say NO, taking on responsibilities and big projects adding to the MUST DO list just adds to the insurmountable stress level.

Ultimately coming to the conclusion that it is the small and simple things that are important.  The struggle out of depression and getting  the motivation  for living a life without being the one "running the entire show",  allowing himself just "to be" it is an intricate journey.  Written in beautiful verbiage and very poetically.  It is amazing how hard we can be on ourselves.  Placing the bar for personal success so high it becomes totally unobtainable!

For a person especially a man here in this society, to be so honest about his feelings, to actually say what he feels and what he thinks for everyone to see,  is very refreshing to me.  This is not a society where that is common.  Here you buck  up, stiff upper lip, you "feel fine" even when you don't.

Don't ask for praise and or encouragement.  That is something only given to children and imbeciles I have been told.

For us who are used to people cheering each other on we find this lack of support difficult to live with.  It is not only us who feel this way, but apparently Bo has experienced this as I would think other people here have.  Speak your heart!  That would be good advice to follow.  Don't just shove what you feel down.  Don't  forget to give yourself some room to do what YOU want.  Be kind.  Let's "lift each other up"!   Of course there are those who never learned how......... sad!  Poor insensitive souls.

Reading this last book,  it's words have given me some  insight into a mans very difficult journey through life with all it's expectations.  What seemed totally dark and black gives way to hope and light.  An ending with much  hope for brighter days ahead.

This  authors desire is to help others.  To keep someone else from staying on "the hamster wheel" too long.  To stop the "workaholic behavior" before  total burn out has set in.

I learned a bit more about  the human condition and the common humanity encompassing the experience of being human in a social, cultural and personal context.  What complex individuals we are.

A life without books.......No Way.  Now I'll go sit in the tub.

1 comment:

  1. Don’t fall asleep while reading in the tub, especially if you borrowed the book from the library and have to take it back, all swollen and wrinkly from its bubble bath.

    Oh, and don’t read a Kindle in the tub either. They don’t get wrinkly, but they DO get very dark after their bath.