Elemental, dear Watson…

It’s been a surreal few weeks. Work has taken me from Stockholm, to Amsterdam and Paris…via Wales and London.  On Monday – as a deranged (and I mean batsh*t crazy!!) Parisian cabbie drove me from La Defense to Gare du Nord –  I had the luxury of sitting back and absorbing the scenery.  As regular readers will know, Paris is one of my favourite cities – not least for the food, the art, and the fine underwear available for purchase at Galleries Lafayette!

On this day however, I was marvelling at the weather. It’s February, and although days are lengthening in the Northern Hemisphere, blasts of winter ire still rain down in the coastal reaches! But in Paris, it was a balmy Spring!  As I crossed the Seine, Winter light illuminated the architraves of this elegant city…Life felt good!

This got me thinking…are human beings conditioned by climate?  I blame my hot temper on the fact that I have Irish, South African and Italian blood running through my veins.  But perhaps I am a fraud? Perhaps the climate in which I find myself determines my mood?  My true love is for Winter – log fires, red wine and convivial evenings with friends.  And yes, while I am drawn to Summer – I really do hate the heat – freckles and humidity – Eeuww!   Autumn is good because you can be melancholy with justifiable reason – and you get berries, apples and pumpkins as harvest!   But at the same time, Spring means fresh starts and renewed vigour as nature (and life) bring hope with longer days.  In my language we often describe people as ‘being in their element’ – meaning they are happy in that particular space, place and time.

Forget about personality type, culture, or class – perhaps people have a season… What’s your element?

Lost luggage…

Semi- useful facts about Finland.  1. Population 4.5 million. This makes Finland the most sparsely populated country in Northern Europe 2. Home of the Nokia and the Northern lights. Phones and fun, but not necessarily in that order 3. Part owner of the world’s worst airline. Yep, the Finnish government has a majority stakeholding in Finnair – 55.8% to be exact.

Semi-useful facts about Finnair.  1. They carry approximately 8.8 million passengers per year.  2. They manage to lose luggage on a regular basis.  This week, they even managed to lose my bags twice!  Annoying, yes.  Life-threatening…? well, probably only for the customer service department at Helsinki airport.

As I stood waiting next to the carousel for a suitcase that was not coming, I got thinking about our attachment to ‘stuff’.  Why do we get upset when our luggage goes astray or our things don’t end up where we are? And as I defrosted the car and began a long, wintry drive home, I wondered about the other baggage we carry so freely. You know, the stuff we think is invisible to others (it’s not by the way), the stuff that nevertheless weighs us down, because it stops us from seizing the opportunity to shine as ourselves.  Why don’t we get upset about that 20kg of emotional baggage that we’d be better off losing if we are to journey lightly through life? Perhaps it’s better to travel without possession.  People matter far more than ski boots and souvenirs.

Larssen B

I’ve spent the last few days dogsledding in Finland.  It’s minus twenty celsius and cold enough to freeze any extremities that may not be gloved, hatted or wrapped.  It’s also starkly beautiful – surrounded by nordic forest, blanketed in snow and lit by the arctic sun, we are staying at a hotel on a lake about two kilometres away from the Russian Border.

So far, one of the many highlights of my adventure has been driving a team of huskies and learning how to steer a  sled…and yesterday, dancing until dawn to bring in the New Year in the company of friends and more than one bottle of bubbly. Of course the party dress was packed without the posh shoes, so my snow boots had to double as seasonal attire.  Very attractive!

Until I made a pact with myself to go away each New Year, I always used to dread the burden of expectation that accompanies these celebrations. Somehow on demand happy didn’t happen for me.  Now my time away brings the opportunity to reflect on the year that was and a fresh perspective on the year that will be.   I don’t yet know what 2010 holds, but the fun will be in finding out.