We are always dreaming. Always dreaming of something bigger and better, easier and simpler, more effective and deeper. At least I am, and I feel that I can say with confidence that many people can relate. What makes things better, easier? Why do we have this drive? Is it enough? Can we find satisfaction in what we have going on right now? Today? Our foreseeable plans? The life we’ve built up and are moving forward with? Maybe this is enough.

Yeterday my grandpa passed away after a long string of health issues. Over a year of sores on his foot, amputation, infection and congestive heart failure, not to mention his 86 years of an active and busy life that take its natural course on the human body. Oh the fragility of life! But also the vigor, the strength, the resilience!

His stubborn personality wasn’t only in the way he met the world and what it had to offer, it was in how his heart pumped and his lungs took in and pushed out air. Even unconscious from excessive carbon dioxide in his blood, his body pushed for 16 hours when the nurses said it would just be a couple. In Swedish there are two words for the English word “stubborn.” Sitting by his bed, waiting, we discussed the small but important difference between “envis” and “enveten.” My grandpa was both. Envis is stubborn, as in stubborn as a mule. As in sometimes irrationally stubborn for the sake of holding one’s ground. Enveten is when you don’t give up, it is a kinder more compassionate but flexible stability. Maybe there is another English word for enveten than stubborn?


I am sitting on the train back to Stockholm from an audition at the conservatory in Malmö (it has been a dramatic couple of days to say the least), and thinking about all sorts of things. Life’s cycle, carrying on my grandpa’s energy and past experiences, challenges, etc. into the continuation of my life. How I can carry my grandpa with me, through all the possibilities he created, the things he said and did, the pain he caused, and the way that he sincerely supported and cared for the people around him. His completeness.

I’m thinking about the fact that I am finally settling into a home for myself. I have lead an life of adaptation and fluttering forward movement: moving temporarily to Sweden first as a 17-year-old, then back to Los Angeles for studies for four years and not wanting to connect with the place for many reasons, a semester in Buenos Aires, then an academic year in a small town in Sweden, and finally the last move to Stockholm. It’s no wonder I have felt lost and slightly confused about who I am, where I’m from, what I need, where I am going to end up. I have a profound understanding of two cultures deep in my soul and damn, it is both an incomparable blessing and a heavy curse. I am finally connecting to a place in a way I never have before and finding perspective on being lost in this world and in this new age where movement and adaptation is the norm. We’re so extremely connected through social media, Skype, etc yet so far from one another. There are things to hold on to, and it isn’t just an iPhone and Facebook. I am slowly learning to be here, now and not in a future career, a future state of living. Is it a coincidence that I am finally landing in my vocal technique and understanding of my voice?

I think about the fact that I always want to make things right. My sister and I share this characteristic. We see the possibility for connection, change and the ability that we have as humans to enter a space where change can be made and where communication, understanding, empathy, and positivity can be a propeller into more connectedness and a fuller life. It reaches into personal connections (i.e. family, friends, lovers, ex-lovers) and into systemic social/societal issues (i.e. systemic/societal oppression) but is dominated by the understanding of how human we all are and a desire to connect. How flawed we all are but in a way that doesn’t need to define. The fact that we are what we are but it is all temporary. We change, we shift, we move, we learn, we relearn and we grow.

Sometimes the hardest part of being a human is being a human with other humans. But it is also the most beautiful driving force. Why else are we here?


“The Distance” August, 2013

(edited by Lisa Nowlain)