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The Full Picture

The moment has its value, but also its limits.

Live in the moment, be present in life, seize the day, practice mindfulness, go to lifestyle seminars, take control over your thought patterns, think positively, take advantage of your opportunities, and maximize your resources. Then, personally furnish and decorate your home, trim the fat off your body, build muscles, make blueberry smoothies stocked full of antioxidants, and eat locally produced food.

A short plane ride away, in Iraq, people are fleeing in unimaginable terror from a terrorist group who will stop at nothing in their conquest to take out anyone who does not agree with or fit into their ideology. A group who buries alive women and children. A group who butchers people in gruesome ways and is so violent that even Al-Qaida wants nothing to do with them.

In light of this, it seems absurd to be a Norwegian – a little group of people whose biggest problem is where to buy locally produced food or how we are going to get our bikini body ready for the summer. Our focus on practicing mindfulness and seizing the day seems completely ridiculous when I think about the situation in Iraq and our lifestyle here. As a rule, it is much less complicated for me to solely focus on my safe little life here, let things be, and occasionally think about how life is for other people in the world. It is simpler this way.

A wise man I know named Thomas Sjödin says that the moment has its value, but also its limits. Focusing on the now alone makes us one dimensional. Thomas sometimes wonders if the reason for his and our time disorientation comes from our tendency to only look at one small portion of the map at a time. We’ve broken down the large picture of our lives and times into minuscule, digestible pieces. But these bite sized pieces of our lives make it difficult and sometimes impossible to properly orientate our lives and world view. People have always had a need for the questions of where we come from and where we are going. The risk of living only in the now is that we can lose ourselves in it. We need to see the longer timeline, something which can give us perspective.

This world’s skewed view, the distance between the fight for locally produced food and the real fight in the Middle East, does not become more clear for me even as I stretch myself to look at the greater perspective of life. The contrast is often so painful that I need to turn off the evening news. However, the greater perspectives of life does make it simpler for me to have a healthy perspective on life, set my priorities straight, and to be thankful in my ordinary, daily routines. The dimension of where we come from and where we are going strengthens my faith that there is hope and that one day, all pain and suffering will cease.

Written by Åsne Gotehus Køhn.
Translated by Emily Huick

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