Married to the Cloud

I was invited to one of my cousins' wedding the other week. Wonderful event with a beautiful ceremony in an old church, and short travel by boat to the small castle where a great dinner was held.
Just a few days before the wedding, I happened to zap right into the movie "Shall we Dance" with Susan Sarandon in one of the leading roles. She, or rather her character, was doing a very nice monologue about marriage:

"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

My mother, being the Godmother of the groom, made a speech to the newlyweds at the dinner. She talked about how much chance there was behind them even to exist. If one Scotsman hadn't decided to go to Sweden in the 17th century and so on. But she also talked about the importance of doing things together such as laugh together but also to cry together, not separately, for the sorrows that are common to both. Such as loosing an unborn baby or a child. Although she didn't provide examples.
With all the attention and immediate support we get through social media today, what role has marriage? Now that we can do more than like comments on Facebook, we can even cry together. Although I very much like my interactions with friends and family through social media, there are still many things I prefer to do IRL. Including sharing difficult times. Nothing can beat a warm, long hug!

Marriage is a common theme in the world of metaphors. There are plenty of metaphors trying to describe what marriage is like, such as describing your spouse as "my other half" or "ball and chain". Marriage is also used to describe other phenomena in the world, often to indicate a strong bond. For example, it can be used to describe a business relationship.

My favourite marriage metaphor can be found in these lyrics by Sting from his song "I Was Brought To My Senses" I've written about before:

"I walked out this morning
It was like a veil had been removed from before my eyes
For the first time I saw the work of heaven
In the line where the hills had been married to the sky
And all around me every blade of singing grass
Was calling out your name and that our love would always last"



I've had the pleasure of working together with AI specialist Henrik Kongsbak at Resonans on several occasions. I'm so happy that he also writes articles that really make you think. About situations you have been in but most importantly about the ones you want to create in the future.

One article he published this summer was about traffic lights and roundabouts (lyskryds and rundkørsler in Danish). He used these metaphors to contrast how you can design your organisation to become more efficient so you can spend more time with your customers. by reducing complexity
One of his suggestions is to replace Key Performance Indicators with Key Performance Conversations. This is systematic conversations about how far I have come, challenges I've met, what obstacles I can take away to make things easier. It's a bit similar to the advice provided by another favourite of mine, Marcus Buckingham. If you ever want to change the way you do performance appraisal talks, your should definitely read his book "First Break All the Rules".
Another of Henrik's suggestions is to put yourself into your customer's shoes. He tells about one organisation that made videos with their key customers expressing their thoughts about the past en future. Although they had much data about the customers, they had not really taken the time to listen to them and to see them as individuals with jobs, pains and gains (as Alex Osterwalder puts it). After seeing the videos, they changed their strategies.


The Solitary Reaper

I think many people in Sweden associate the actor Max von Sydow with his appearance in the Bergman movie The Seventh Seal where he plays chess with the Grim Reaper. The scene is filmed at Hovs Hallar, a place I've visited several times.
From Skåne July 2015
After having participated in a course focusing on how to manage and care for a scythe, I can now see from all the pictures of the Grim Reaper that he's not especially apt at using his tool. For example, he's not carrying it in the right, safe way and it's seldom made to fit his height from an ergonomically point of view and often the handles are completely missing.

Apparently, The Grim Reaper is a case of conceptual blending when it comes to metaphors. According to Kovecses, two metaphors are assumed and blended: people are plants and events are actions. This might also explain why there are so many inconsistencies between the mythical creature and an actual harvesting reaper.
Our teacher, Lie-Mats, explained that using a scythe is becoming more and more popular in landscaping. A study showed that over time it's more time-efficient to use a scythe instead of a trimmer since the grass doesn't grow back so quickly. In addition, it doesn't need fuel and it's quite. The last aspect is especially important in environments where people come for an experience, such as Gunnebo Castle where the course took place.

William Wordsworth wrote the poem "The Solitary Reaper" although I don't think he had much first-hand experience of that kind of activity. It's hard work (especially when you don't get the scythe "to dance") but it's also very meditative in character and you get satisfaction in the quick results.

However, in terms of metaphors involving death and agriculture, I prefer this poem by Bo Setterlind:

"Det gick en gammal odalman
och sjöng på åkerjorden.
Han bar en frökorg i sin hand
och strödde mellan orden
för livets början och livets slut
sin nya fröskörd ut.

Han gick från soluppgång till soluppgång.
Det var den sista dagens morgon.
Jag stod som harens unge, när han kom.
Hur ångestfull jag var inför hans vackra sång!
Då tog han mig och satte mig i korgen
och när jag somnat, började han gå.

Döden tänkte jag mig så."


Tree Hugging

During this summer I watched a TV programme about the famous photographer Bae Bien-u. He's specialised in capturing the wonderfully serene South Koran pine trees. You can see in his pictures that he started out as a painter. Many of his pictures focus on the Gyeongju Historic Area, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

I share his passion for pine trees, but I not sure he, like me, is a keen collector of pinecones. I have picked gigantic cones on Malta and Madeira and in Armenia among other places. The medium sized can be found everywhere in Sweden, but I'm very fond of the ones from trees at the coast especially in the national park Stångehuvud outside Lysekil. Just the other day I also found some really small ones too, at the beach at Särö Västerskog.

From Madeira 2010
A couple of months ago I stumbled across a great collection of large cones in Överåsparken, a public park in Gothenburg. Since I didn't have a bag, I folded my blouse and put them there. I walked slowly down the path and then the road to a small fish shop at the Sankt Sigfrid square. They were closing, but kindly provided me with a plastic bag to put my find in.

The large cones my mother put up in every door opening at Christmas perhaps triggered my interest in pinecones. So do I now, using the same kind of red silk ribbons. I also know there were pine trees across the street where I lived as a child, where the squirrels lived until a house was built there.

From Tällberg 2016
Pine trees have a special place in South Korean tradition and mythology. It is considered to represent Korean spirit and is mentioned in South Korean national anthem. Apparently the Korean name for pine tree, Sonamu, literally means “chief tree,” or top-level tree. I can see why.