Social circus

He really did not like small talk, fake smiles and questions like ”How are you?” that did not really allow for an honest answer, but if you do not play along with the social circus, which is what he called it, you very soon became an outsider, the odd one out that nobody asked after. To begin with it made him angry; he was angry with everyone, he hated the world. After anger came the sadness and the loneliness, and the last stage seemed to be acceptance or at least resignation, but he still felt that he walked through life with a question mark in his hand. He did not understand other, and they did not understand him, and as long as they left each other alone, he was all right. He often wondered about others’ need for changing him, their need for sameness. It seemed to give them some sense of security, albeit a false one. On the other hand the other never could understand why he refused to conform.

The years went by, marriage, children, divorce, much like the life of anyone else really. Except for the odd one out stamp that people seemed to see on his forehead. Then one day he met a woman who had also struggled with that same problem all her life. She also hated the social circus and had gone through life with a question mark in her hand. When they tried fitting the questions marks together they became a heart.

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Hjärta

In an orderly fashion

”No, no, no, you have to put them on the shelf in an orderly fashion”, she said.

She was at least 55 and had worked in the office for many years. I was 23 and was new in that workplace, not new as a secretary. There had been a fusion of two companies, and the one I had been working for was taking over. I was going to be working for the same boss that I had worked for since I left the secretarial training college at 21. She and her husband, who had been previously been the CEO, were leaving.

I knew what I was doing, but she just would not get that. She was trying to dominate me and trying to show me how important she was. I let her go on.

”This is where the contracts go and…”

She went on and on. I had stopped listening a long time ago. As soon as she left, I did things my way. In an orderly fashion.

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Kontor

Grain of truth

”There is a grain of truth in everything you say. The thing is that truth might not always be what you think it is. This of it as a speck of dust; it can get into the most unlikely places, and even though in and of itself it is quite harmless, it may still cause unexpected harm. It’s the same with truth,” I said.

”You’re not making any sense.”

My friend looked at me as if I belonged in the nuthouse, and perhaps I did. I was not making much sense, and I know it was a roundabout way of phrasing it, but I wanted to explain to her once and for all why she could not continue doing what she did. She had a habit of always telling ”the truth” as she put it, which cause many people a lot of unnecessary harm. She had told med I was too fat, others that they wore ugly clothes and Another that she could not understand her choice of boyfriend.

”You know how you say you always tell the truth.” I tried again.

”Yes, I most certainly do. I would never lie.”

”Well, your opinion isn’t the truth, Margaret,” I said.

”Of course it is! If something is ugly, then it’s ugly and that’s the truth!”

I knew I was in for a tantrum. Adult tantrums are so much worse than children’s I always find so I usually tried to avoid it with all my might, but this time I was not going to stand down.

”That is not the truth, Margaret! It’s just your opinion. It’s a good an honorable thing to want to tell the truth, but don’t get it mixed up with your own opinion, and don’t always tell people your every thought. You’re hurting people; don’t you understand that?”

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Grain

Just a phase

”It’s just a phase she’s going through. Get off her back and leave her alone for a bit.” Madeleine’s husband gave her a blank stare.

”Her behaviour is just not acceptable”, he said.

”Come on, she’s a teenager! Have you forgotten what it’s like, Alan?” She tried not to laugh. If she did, he would just be offended.

”My parents were strict, and it never hurt me none to learn good behaviour.”

They had had this conversation many times before. At this point she had to make a decision to either go on with the conversation and risk an extremely heated argument or to try to change the subject. She had had a tough day at work, and she regretted some of the things she had called her boss. All she wanted now was to eat in peace and quiet and then relax in front of the television. There was a film starting in five minutes.

”I’ve told her a million times. And still she…”

He was not going to let her drop the subject. The pause had not been enough. She should have tried to divert him. A heavy sigh was all she the answer she could give.

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Konflikt

Healthy

On the outside she was the very image of health. She always made sure she ate healthy food, and she counted calories and so was not in the least overweight. She exercised regularly, and whenever she had had a piece of cake she would head out and run for miles afterwards.

At work all her colleagues commended her for being so organised. They often told her she was a much better teacher than they were, but they did not know that she was a slave under the clock. She allotted a certain amount of time for each task. Preparing for a lesson was allowed 30 minutes – no more, no less – which was rather stressful is she had not finished by that time. For as long as she could remember she had always strived for perfection.

Even at home everything had to be perfect also. Each thing in its place and the floors sparkling clean. Every minute she did not spend working, eating healthy or running, was spent cleaning. Her teenage son was punished for spilling food on the table because that meant more work for her. In his turn the son started playing up, which drove her husband into rage, and this was the very thing which gave her anxiety and cause her to try to be in control even more. It was a vicious circle and she could not get out of it.

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Klädhängare

Stroll

Two elegant women are strolling along the promenade. They both wear long, white dresses – haute couture of course – their glove-clad hands holding a parasol, each bending her head towards the other, deep in discussion.

”Did you hear at the ball that Jane has got engaged?” the blonde lady whispers so as not to be overheard.

”Yes.” The pale brunette replies. ”She’s marrying Richard, is she not? He’s the richest man in these three counties. She’s so lucky.”

”He is rich, that is true, but I do not think he is capable of loving anyone. He’s such a brute. Poor Jane, I feel quite sad for her.”

The two men in uniform, walking behind the ladies, catch snippets of their conversation. The tall man says:

”She probably thinks herself lucky, considering that her father lost almost everything.”

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Promenade.jpg

Sacrifice

Would you sacrifice your car, your computer and loads of other stuff? Would you? For whom or for what? The time has come for all of us to make sacrifices now. We are killing Mother Earth, slowly but surely. And one thing is for certain, if she goes under so do we. But chances are it will be we who will die while Mother Earth moves on. I think she can survive more than we can.

The time has come. We either sacrifice something now, or we sacrifice ourselves and our children later. It’s a choice we have to make. It’s in your hands now.

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Jorden