I went to a contemporary dance performance tonight called The Feeling of Going (watch the trailer) put on by a local dance school and the Malmö Opera. It was all set to the Icelandic singer Jónsi's (the lead singer from Sigur Rós) album Go. It was a story of a man growing, learning who he is. The dancers were incredible, violently leaping, throwing themselves and spinning. The music haunting, contemplative and inspirational. And the sets perfectly constructed, largely, with simple birch trees perfectly spaced to add to the performance.
From my brief encounter with Iceland, and my current life in a Nordic country, I was able to see so many elements and influences of these far Northern countries cultures. The Feeling of Going is a story of a man who is dreaming. It begins in the first part when you fall asleep but your mind is still running. The story progresses to the weird chapters of your dreams and in this dream, the man is in a forest, a place of change. He encounters a blonde siren (blonde, of course), trolls (common in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklor) and fauns (half-man, half-goat). The majority of the dance takes place in the forest, a place of high value.
I have also had a weekend of feeling known. A friend stopped by Saturday evening and I invited her in and ending up making dinner. I was cooking over the stove and she started to clean up the dishes I'd already made all while we chatted away. At one point she said, "I changed the lining of your garbage can and started a new compost bag." Such a simple statement that doesn't seem too impactful, but when she said that I had this feeling of being known. She's been to my place enough times and knew where I kept the garbage bags and she felt comfortable enough to jump in and help clean. It was all so simple and natural.
This friend also asked to see my Africa pictures! No one, besides my mom, has wanted to see all my Africa pictures. My friend spent 4 hours flipping through my old life, watching my little 30 second camera videos of kids dancing and being silly. She asked good questions about the effects of that experience for me now. She started to recognize the people in my pictures and call them by name in other pictures. She felt free to say she thought one of my favorite children (Mildred) looked like a boy.
When you move to a new place and have to make new friends you realize how long it takes to really know someone (a lifetime). But you start the process and somewhere along the way, you begin to feel known, understood, cared for. And those are the moments you suck in your breath and feel so thankful for the human spirit's ability to connect to another human being. As I go about my day, I hope to continue my feeling of going (learning where to change) and also hold to my feeling of being known.