Nov 24

Mørketid (the dark time)


One of my students sent me an article from the Guardian called "Dreading the winter lockdown? Think like a Norwegian."

I'm Norwegian, and like to think I think like one. I'm also on my second decade of being an expat and not quite sure how I think anymore, so I read the article only to conclude that yes, I still think like a Norwegian.

What does that even mean, and why does it matter?

The world seems to be imploding. I am the most anxious I have been in my entire life. You may have noticed if you are a regular reader. What world am I leaving my kids and will they be safe? The fear of the unknown has taken on an entirely different meaning this year.

So, Norway, what is this thing about the dark...

We have two words used a lot during mørketid (dark time) in the months between November and February: Koselig (cozy) and hyggelig (also cozy). These help us digest the harshness of the nature that surrounds us and in turn get us through to the more sunlit season of spring. I'm not one of those Must-Go-Skiing-Three-Hours-A-Day type Norwegians. I love being outside, I love skiing, I love taking my time as I explore nature, but running up mountains and breaking a sweat was never my thing. I don't know what your thing is, but below is a list of how I get from one season to the next.

  1. Go outside. Yes, this seems a bit detrimental because it's cold there and also gusty, wet and many other weather descriptions you might not enjoy. I get it, but this step is important in order to get to step 2, so bear with me. Put layers of clothes on so you are warm and dry, go outside and once you are moving it won't be so cold. I bring my camera, it has a raincoat if it's raining. There is so much beauty in the winter, and watching how the light changes from season to season is really interesting. As a photographer it's also educational. Maybe pick one spot to make a picture every day for a year and see how it changes from day to day, season to season. Find parts of the winter that facinates you and try to experience the weather instead of hiding from it. You might enjoy it.​

  2. Go back inside. This is the best part. After I go outside I come back in and that is a magical experience as I feel my cheeks warm up. Then I make a hot beverage and curl up on a chair with my knitting, a book, all three kids, or all of the above at once (insert your preferred method of non-screen activities). I've lit some candles or turn on the holiday lights (which I keep up all winter) and lean into the feeling that I earned this time of relaxation and defrosting. This is the definition of cozy for me and makes me relax, which in turns gets my brain chugging along and often I come up with ideas I can move ahead with once the dark turns to light again. This initial come-back-inside-cozy is also a screen-free time (!!). If you immediately turn on the blue light of the screen your brain won't enjoy the winding down after the fresh air experience, so try to avoid them as much as you can.

  3. Slow down. This is the most important part of mørketid for me. Getting into the mentality that I have to expect less from myself and others, that this is the time to hibernate, recover and maybe tie up some loose ends. It is generally not the time I start new projects or hold myself accountable to completing big tasks. It is the time to relax, rejuvinate and embrace the cozy.

In short: Fresh air. Relax. Fresh air. Relax. Fresh air. Relax. Less is more in terms of screens.

I photograph a lot during mørketid because the light fascinates me and can also be quite challenging. It is a great time to practice without expectations.

All for now,

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