Friday, 26 February 2016


A friend and I were talking the other day about training and he asked me if I have a goal. He was referring to my running. I think.

I replied that, for me, the journey is far more important than the destination. Lots of great minds agree with me – the Greek poet Cavafy the most notable among them, with the American poets Aerosmith a very close second – so I must be right:

As you set out for Ithaca
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.


Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;

My friend then asked me what happens if we get lost on our way to our destination. Too caught up island-hopping like a modern-day Ulysses to remember we once had Ithaca to get to. I asked him, thinking about this year's running goal of not having a running goal, what happens if we don't even have an Ithaca to get to.

The conversation may have been training-related but my mind wandered off to other things. Sometimes it feels like I've been on the move my whole life. I've switched schools and moved house so many times I've lost track. I've lived in three different countries, 4 different cities, 10 different places. I was almost always the last one in, in groups of friends, work places, you name it. And, because I moved so often, I was often the first one out.

It was hard work to start over all the time. New friends. New colleagues. New challenges. The older you get, the harder it is to start over. But I didn't mind. I got to see so much of this part of the world, met so many wonderful people, even though I sometimes wish I didn't always have to leave them.

In April, after many years of house-hunting, we will be moving into our new house. Our own house this time, not a rental that we can just move out of whenever we want, but our own place that we hope will be our permanent home. The sense of commitment, after a lifetime of being on the move, is almost overwhelming. I am sprouting roots and I just don't know – is this my Ithaca? Or just another island on the way there? Do I want it to be my Ithaca? Or, like I (only half-jokingly) asked J when it became clear that the plan was for us to live in Sweden for the rest of our lives: But what about Canada? Are we never going to try living there? So many places we'll never spend time in.

This moving-all-the-time business became a way of life and turned into a wanderlust that can only be satisfied by regular long runs. How will it feel to finally settle down for real?

My motivation to get out and exercise has been less than exemplary lately. I am sure there are many reasons for that, perhaps mainly because I'm currently juggling work, studies and the imminent move which all leave me mentally exhausted. It takes a will of steel to get myself out the door, but once I'm out there, it's always worth it. Take yesterday, for example: the sun was low on the horizon when I finally decided to get out and run. It was a gorgeous winter day and the sun cast a warm light. I ran in the forest, on snowmobile tracks. It was quiet but for my footsteps. The sky was torn in two by a passing airplane and painted in all shades of orange. I had only planned on running 10, maybe 15 km, but I got home after 20. This was a journey worth going on, but it did get me thinking about my lack of a running-related Ithaca. Could this be what is causing my lack of motivation? That I don't have a goal to train for?

Last Wednesday, AIK awarded me the title of ”Leader of the Year”. It was an honour that meant so much to me, for several reasons but mainly because I wasn't the last one in anymore, and I certainly don't plan on being the first one out. From the first time I trained with the group I felt like I belonged there, mostly thanks to our coach, but even my fellow runners, who all embraced me immediately. Many of them have become my friends.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Halcyon days

There are winter days when the sun paints the treetops gold and you suddenly realise it's the first time you've seen that golden light in months. Those winter days when the cold still grabs hold of you with its icy claws, but then you hear a bird singing and you wonder if you're mistaken, maybe you fell asleep and woke up two or three months later and it's spring.

Those winter days you want to lie down on your back somewhere where that golden light can reach you. You want to climb up high, maybe on a hill, because the sun is already so low when you finally leave work. You want to lie down and look up, and pretend that the world is upside down and that the sky is an ocean and the clouds are ships. You think about going running, the perfect way to enjoy a beautiful day such as this, but then your mind wanders off to other days, days when you were a kid, being lazy in the sun. You remember your head leaning against the window of a warm car on such a sunny winter afternoon, on your way back home from a day trip with your parents. The sun caressing your face as your hands cradle a mug of hot chocolate during a snack break to a Sunday hike up the mountains. Reading your favourite book by the window. And then all you want to do is curl up like a cat and get lost in the memories. There will be time for running later. This light is only fleeting still, anyway.