Observing Sweden – Life & Death – Part 1

What’s Up Around The Bend

            I’ve been thinking about death this year, but not in a depressive way. More curiosity, an interesting subject, much unspoken of . . . perhaps okay to read about. I’m starting to feel old, a new experience – Awareness? I’ve been lucky all my life, one broken bone, a motor cycle. Mama told me not to ride, but god, such thrill, and women loved it. I’ve digressed again.

            Had hepatitis, and I think, most of the common ailments, plus one kidney stone I will remember always. If you make your way through seventy-five years you have, in fact, been lucky. Lots of people didn’t. Old friends, and acquaintances keep dying, classmates, guys I spent time with in the Army. Writers, Mailer, and Capote, famous poets . . . Ginsberg, Seamus Heaney,  . . . younger than myself by years!

            I have been thinking about age, and death. Not all the time . . . but sometimes. There’s an intellectual awareness. I’ve been, labeled, classified. It’s strange, the power of these words. I’m suddenly, by definition, old. It’s in the book. Confirmed on television:

            “It was an old guy, officer, seventy something.”

            There is no escape. In truth, I find myself less energetic than I used to be, and less resilient, slower, ignorant of high-tech toys. I dislike cell phones, boom boxes, and car alarms, leaf blowers . . . Noise. They all equate to noise, but that’s just me. Oh yes, and also the martini glass – designed to spill. A therapist once said, I was eccentric. Told me it was okay to be eccentric, but confirmed I was one. Good. That’s fine with me.

            You get to be eccentric when you hit your seventies. It’s a benefit. You’ve earned it. At a boring party? “Gee, I’m tired I need to take a nap.” You have the right to refuse a drink, or get drunk. People start driving you to places . . . and events. There was an event here recently, a celebration, Borläng, Sweden’s Salute Festival.

            A dished out, grassy slope, and lawn below, make up a modest amphitheater beside Darlana River. It’s a nice crowd, typical of these sorts of things in Sweden. Ten or twenty thousand here tonight. The mood is easy, light, with happy people, kids. Sitting on camp chairs, blankets on the grass, with thermoses of coffee, sandwiches and quiet conversations.  A pervading, easy going sort of mood, this perfect evening . . . comfortable in a light jacket. On the lawn below, a blue tent shelters a large orchestra that will play popular, non-controversial, happy music, after several high school bands perform with baton twirlers. I’d forgotten twirlers still existed; guess they will be with us always.

             A dance team performs something acrobatic . . . teenage girls. Water ballet on grass. I keep getting a feeling of innocence here in Sweden, along with robust healthiness. I guess you have to have that to survive the winters here.


Those damned cell phones again.

            My gaze drifts out onto the river. Flat, as though without a current, mirrored surface, splashed with green and blue reflections. Images of trees, and woods on pastel pink, and blue. A small, substation’s white, and yellow lights reach out like fingers on the water. Fascinating. Damn, I’m deeply moved, and wonder why. I’ve seen my share of world class sunsets, none has ever hit me quite like this.


About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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4 Responses to Observing Sweden – Life & Death – Part 1

  1. We share an age. I’ve been pride-filled that I still jog, until six weeks ago when one foot decided it hurt. Now I limp and have admitted I must see a doc. Writing history causes me to feel terminal–like all those characters that fill my pages. I lecture monthly at two up-scale retirement centers where I could not afford to live, but shudder at the prospect of being admitted.

  2. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words says:

    eccentric isn’t just 70 something, I got labeled that in the Army at 18 LOLs..
    I was just complaining about cell phones ..you are so right…noise…
    I like my quiet….and at 57(for a couple more months) I love my country life…
    though there is a very irate young person that drives so slow every night around 1am with his bass up so loud it rattles my windows…one night I will meet that person ….
    wonderful story here, I hadn’t thought about baton twirlers in ages, I wonder if we still have them here in Texas…I will have to ask my grandkids …
    Thanks Bruce…I enjoyed your painting another picture of where you now reside…
    Take Care…You Matter…

  3. Oh Bruce, it does sound so gentle and innocent.. Sweden sounds a lovely civilised place…
    We’re the same age, but I refuse to classify myself as old… getting on is as far as I go !
    But I notice I’m lazier and don’t push myself any more !
    Not good at weeding and bending the knees!!!

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