Lost Generation

I am part of a lost generation
and I refuse to believe that
I can change the world
I realise this may come as a shock but
“Happiness comes from within”
Is a lie, and
“Money will make me happy”
So in thirty years I’ll tell my children
They are not the most important thing in my life
My employer will know that
I have my priority straight because
Work
Is more important than
Family
I tell you this
Once upon a time
Families stay together
But this will not be true in my era
This is a quick fix society
Experts tell me
30 years from now I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce
I do not concede that
I will live in a country of my own making
In the future
Environmental destruction will be the norm
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this earth
It will be evident that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope

And all of this will come true unless we reverse it.

-Jonathan Reed

So reverse it, and read it again ;D


On the Threshold of the Future

The world of literature is a wonderful world into which we can escape from our daily life. However, as the horribly pessimistic saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.” After having finished the Harry Potter series for what seems to be the umpteenth time, I am again thrust back into my own world of anxiety, apprehension, and even dread. You see, as I sit here, there is exactly 16 hours until my IB grades will be released by the IB Organisation.

While I felt similar feelings of apprehension before our Exams in May, this long drawn-out wait for our grades seems to be the ultimate ending to three years of my life. Three years I have been on the IB Diploma Programme, and for three years we students were prepared to tackle Exams. Before Exams, I felt apprehensive, but I also had a feeling that it was my time to go up to the plate and do my very best I was able to. And I am quite certain that my efforts were not in vain; I left my last exam on the 17 May with a feeling that I had indeed done my best.

Our Exams, however, were to be immediately sent away for correction and grading; hence the long wait for our grades. But on the 17 May, the month-and-a-half wait for our grades seemed to be as long as our three years on the IB had been. It seemed a distant and hazy future, and it was easy to place the small nugget of anxiety I had into a small fold in my mind. And so I focused my thoughts upon other things.

But now, as I sit, the weight of the finality of IB is again upon me. After Exams, I knew that there would be a long wait for our grades, and so it did not feel quite like an ending to the IB; however now that our grades are upon our doorstep, it would be impossible to say that the IB is not over for me. The anxiety/apprehension/dread that I feel has a slight sprinkling of melancholy as well, as three of my four years in Sweden have been dedicated to the IB programme. And now, as it truly and finally draws to a conclusion, the truth that I am upon the threshold of the future has come again.

Every breath I take, every time I blink, every pounding heartbeat reminds me of that the sand in the hourglass is diminishing. And while this only increases my apprehension to ever high levels, it also brings me to the realisation that others must be feeling similarly. The fear of the unknown must affect all humans to a large extent. But it is this first step out of our relatively cozy lives into the world of the future, the first step, so to speak, of our adult lives. It is now that we choose whether or not to move away from home; we choose our future education, employment, and living.

And so it is somewhat understandable for my, and possibly other IB students out there, to feel anxiety and fear of what we learn tomorrow at 14.00 GMT. But I should also point out that, if things should prove to not go the way we wish, there exist possibilities for us to change that outcome. It seems that, when one has a plan for the future, one feels more prepared to take what is given and accept it. Or rather, to encounter things in a way that will not cause us to fall into negative thoughts.

So to everyone out there standing at the threshold of a grand step in life: whenever you feel the apprehension, the anxiety, and perhaps dread of a certain event, perhaps a plan for the future afterwards will help. Knowing where the pathway goes makes it easier to take the first step, and once that step has been taken it is monumentally easier to continue.

Life is a series of steps we take, the only matter is to take the first few steps.


Red

I have been spending a few days pondering something. A photography competition for this month of June has adopted the theme “red”. So I thought I would test my photographic skills and capture something red.

However, I did not want to photograph something completely obvious. A rose, strawberries, etc seem like the most obvious choices, and while they can be truly beautiful, I wanted a photograph that would both look cool and draw in the reader. So I thought. And I thought. That thought process turned into a ToK discussion with myself:

What is red? Well, from a scientific point of view, red is the name given to a wavelength. Ask an artist or a writer and they’ll probably say it’s a colour, and that the colour can have different connotations. Red is used to grab attention, it is a warning colour, it is danger, it is anger – but red is also heat, warmth, affection, love, sensuality, and so more things.

And then came the question. How the HECK am I going to get all of that in one picture??? And so I thought. And I thought. And I thought some more.

And this is the result. (click to embiggen)


Opportunities

Assuming that I still have readers, I’ll ask you to remember my stance regarding luck. If you don’t remember, here’s a recap: I believe that luck is merely the ability of a person to see opportunities and take them. Thus, opportunities play a large part in my life.

However, right now I find myself in a pickle. Ever since I fulfilled my dream of going to Paris, I’ve always wanted to go back. Lo and behold, I made a second trip a mere 9 months after my first trip. However my thirst for the city was not quenched. I still want to go back again. Heck, I could move there if I found the funding required!

Anyways, as I write this, I find myself divided. An opportunity has arisen for a journey to Paris, and while it may not be a whole week, it is still a trip to Paris. And this time, it is in the middle of summer, with a gang of friends. My hopes and expectations are great, however the reality of life is that I question my ability to take this opportunity. Duties here at home, as well as financial matters make such a trip difficult. But it’s PARIS: the city of love, the city I fell in love with.

Going on the trip would be fantastic, no doubt. Not going would cause me to be filled with regret. Did I mention it’s Paris in the summer? And the 14 July is Bastille Day? Frankly, I’m not sure what I should do at this point. To go or not to go? To not go now, but go later? To go later, but without friends?

The Universe is such a tease.


Spring

Finally, the sun has arrived and stayed for quite some time. In fact, it’d be almost more correct to call the weather we’ve been having summer! Warm, golden sunshine, blue skies with white pristine clouds, and flowers and trees in bloom. A new era is beginning in nature.

And so it is in my life as well. As I write, the days, hours, minutes and seconds until IB Exams count downwards at an endless, unstoppable rate. Tuesday the 3rd of May is the beginning, and then, 14 days later, it will all be over. No more ‘regular’ school, no more exams. And while initially I was filled with panic over this torrential speed at which exams approached, I have now entered into an atmosphere of calm. A calm that is both wonderful and horrifying at the same time. Half the time I feel ecstatic, that now all cards are to be laid upon the table. Meanwhile, I feel terrified because of this calm, that I should be studying at a maximum and doing nothing else.

Either way, the truth of the matter is that exams are literally on my doorstep, and I’ve had three years’ preparation and conditioning for them. At this rate, studying any more wouldn’t be able to fix any major gaps in knowledge that I hope I don’t have. I can only for one last time sharpen the blade before battle to ensure maximum effect; it’d be impossible to forge a new one.

And so I am able to enjoy the spring and the new wave of life it brings. Life begins anew every year, and this time it is our moment to turn a page and start a new chapter. It’s time to step outside and smell the fresh air. I, for one, can’t wait.

All pictures ┬ęPeter Hjertsson 2011


A New Future

Ring out the old, ring in the new, (…) Ring out the false, ring in the true”
-Lord Alfred Tennyson

While most people would look at the full quote above and wonder, why is he talking about the New Year?, the answer is that I am… in a strange roundabout way. We celebrate the new year because it is the symbolic shift from the old to the new. Deep down inside we want and hope that the new year will change our lives in some way – and thus we have these things called New Year’s Resolutions. But how often is it that those are fulfilled? How often do we actually take a grasp of our lives and make a discernible change? From what I’ve experienced, not often. My record for holding a resolution is 3 months; no more, lots less.

And yet now I find myself riding a tidal wave towards a future that I cannot see. While I am completely unable to slow myself down, the question of the future hangs like a deadening weight upon my chest, while at the same time it feels like that same future is giving me wings to fly. My 12 years of school will be over in around 10 weeks, and then comes the whole dilemma of entering the ‘real world’ as adults call it. While the limitless choices seem enthralling, it also seems more than daunting – after school, I can do whatever I want. But what is it that I want?

I hardly believe that I am alone when it comes to this. Some people have already decided, and been accepted, to a university, while others will be taking a gap year after school. I belong to the latter group, and the uncertainty of what will occupy my next year is truly unnerving. Will I get a job? Will I apply for a university here in Sweden? Will I apply for a university abroad? Will I apply for a university here in Sweden while I wait to apply for a university abroad? The possibilities are endless, and an answer has yet to be found in my mind.

Obligations and desires are the two things that my future boils down to. Even this summer, while I feel morally obligated to visit my friends in the USA, I feel just as obligated to get a summer job, which could potentially make vacation plans difficult. I want to attend university abroad, but I feel obliged to stay here in Sweden both for economic reasons and other circumstances. If I attend university, what should I study? My heart tells me one thing, yet my brain another. One part of me wants to do the fascinating, another wants to stick to the logical. Also, there exists a slight fear of going abroad – then again, I am used to the whole process of uprooting oneself utterly and completely, and adapting to a whole new society with different social codes and rules.

But the one thing I keep coming to, in my wholly indecisive moments of thought, is that whatever decision I pursue will affect the whole course of my life. At this very moment, in a mere ten weeks, my life will be entirely in my hands. Like a lump of clay, it is totally up to me to mould my life into what I want it to be. I will be the person who sets the course for my life to sail.

We’re not often given these opportunities in life, so there isn’t exactly a large room for error in my opinion. And while I do believe that we constantly face opportunities in life and that taking them is what gives us luck, some opportunities are greater in magnitude than simply getting high results on exams. Carpe Diem says a sign on my living room wall; seize the day. Live life to it’s fullest. I want to later in my life look back upon this time and say that I did seize the day, that I haven’t regretted any of my decisions more than I’ve benefitted from them.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, says another idiom. When life gives you opportunities, don’t just ignore them. It may be scary, it may be difficult, to step into a new world, but it can also be quite fantastic. As I mentioned before, my longest resolution held for 3 months. But now I’m going to make a different resolution, a resolution not for a single year, but for the whole amass of blank, new chapters yet to be written.

My resolution is to follow my dreams. What’s yours?


The Benefits of Youth

I must say, I was really inspired by the film Under the Tuscan Sun. It’s a really good ‘feel-good-about-life’ film, and it just so happens that there are a bunch of good quotes in it as well!

Today is 10 January 2011, and here in Sweden, that means cold, dreary and wet. Pale, boring, and just outright yuck. There are millions of ways of complaining in life, you see? And what does complaining make us sound like? Well, boring, dreary people. I know that I’ve fallen into that pond many times, but for me, it’s time to change.

“No matter what happens, always keep your childish innocence. It’s the most important thing,” says one character in the above mentioned film. Now, why would the character, an aging British actress, say such a strange thing? She is indirectly explaining why her character is so full of life, so enthusiastic about the little things in life. Try and remember yourself what life was like as a child – everything was exciting, even rain, cold and dreary things. When we are children, we don’t worry about what other people think; we just live life and let our guard down.

Basically, the quote is saying ‘don’t grow old’. Which presents a problem: growing old is inevitable. The thing is that there are different types of age in life: chronological age and biological age. While the tick of the clock is inevitable, our attitude towards life isn’t. So what about some positive energy, and a cheery outlook on life? It may not work at first, but if you keep trying, it should – I know I’m going to try. What’s the point in growing old?

“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
– Samuel Ullman

Here’s to a positive, cheery, wonderful, beautiful, awesome 2011!!!!