“A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” I have to agree with English philosopher George Edward Moore on this one.
So often, travel delivers a life completely unlike that which you would find were you to move to the same locale. I need only remember my experience in moving to NYC to remember this fact. It is not until we can step away from our typical day-to-day responsibilities that our minds open to new routines, or no routine at all, and make space for novel ideas and a fresh understanding. From this vantage point, the things we need most surface above the things we must do. Those who are lucky translate this revelation, as Moore suggests, into tangible discovery back home.
Granted, I don’t think you have to journey thousands of miles away from home to accomplish this. It does, however, take practice. Falling into the slog of commuting and working and cooking and cleaning and care taking and whatever else your responsibilities might be is all too easy…day after day, wash, rinse, repeat. You already know that escaping the repetitive slog is exactly why I started Year of Months. Without a doubt, there are days when hopping on the assembly line of habitual motion seems appealing. Yet, the ultimate revelation of lost time really riles me up.
Life is short. Your elders, like my own, surely tell you too that the longer we live the shorter it gets. I don’t have the luxury of setting my life’s speed to jetset. Instead, I look for clues in the everyday. I read, a lot. And, when I’m lucky, when I work really hard at making room for the goodness rise to the top, I stumble right across the very things I need. This week, that thing was koselig.
Koselig (pronounced kush-lee) is a Norwegian concept, one of those words that doesn’t quite translate. Cozy doesn’t do it justice, but it tries really hard. I personally conceptualize koselig as a sort of nurturing hibernation. Not the kind of hibernation you sleep through; rather, a phase of comforting both self and others. I’ve seen it described as an inner warmth, a casual intimacy, or a thoughtful gesture. It’s a person, it’s a place, it’s an atmosphere. It’s personal, though it can be private or public – both a home and a restaurant can be equally koselig. It’s even for your pets!
A Frog in the Fjord describes it best: It is like an inner summer that Norwegians create for themselves to feel like it’s warm all year long no matter the circumstances.
I completely relate to this! It’s tempting to believe that summer is, by far, the best season in the Pacific Northwest. The sun shines for 16 hours. Heck, the sun shines. Short winter days are a stark contrast. It’s easy to bemoan the damp and dreary weather, to succumb to the depression of weeks filled with grey days. Though, we must be vigilent in not falling prey to this conveyer belt of gloom, the one that will gladly eat our days whole while dutifully delivering us back to the next sunny season. There is great warmth to be found now, and the Norwegians have set a high bar for us in finding it.
We must light candles, fill our mugs, cook deeply flavored meals, cuddle beneath blankets, bake cookies, build fires, clink our glasses, curl up, share stories…in other words, relish the warm ways of winter. Koselig.
With this in mind, I might adjust Moore’s words ever so slightly to – A woman searches the world for what she needs then finds it in her home. After all, the mind can do the body’s wandering.