Archive

Monthly Archives: May 2011

Human beings are voyagers.

For 200 000 years we have been drifting through the Universe, constantly stretching, pushing, expanding, moving, developing; Always struggling to reach higher, to go deeper, to know more.

We have climbed mountains and crossed oceans. We have built pyramids, and libraries and airplanes. We have invented knives and wheels and x-ray machines and iPhones. We have discovered atoms and galaxies. And we have taken our first small steps into the deep forests of the World Wide Web.

Our history is full of explorers. And we are constantly discovering new landscapes.

What is it that keeps pushing us?

Why did Columbus risk his life (and the lives of hundreds of others) to discover America? Why did Marie Curie expose herself to danger to develop her theories of radiation? What drove Carl von Linné to travel an unknown world in order to systematize plants and flowers? And what on earth made Neil Armstrong leave this green and exuberant planet behind, to put his feet on the surface of a gray and dusty moon?

A couple of years ago, a Norwegian newspaper hired me to take some pictures at a fertility clinic, and one of the employees invited me to have a look at a sperm sample in a microscope. It was a breathtaking experience. I will never forget the feeling of awe and wonder that rose in me, as I witnessed the incredible movement of thousands of very alive cells.

A similar thing happened the first time I watched the sky through the lens of a telescope. I was totally blown away by the sight of an uncountable number of stars and the bright light of Saturn, accompanied by the voice of an astrologer explaining to me that we are all made of stardust. It made me feel like a part of a big puzzle. Like a tiny, tiny part of a pattern that is too huge and complex for my little human brain to grasp.

Both of these experiences opened my eyes to the mysteries that are unfolding inside of us and around us.  They didn’t give me the whole answer to why human beings have this mystical drive to develop. But they gave me a glimpse of the secrets of the Universe. And left me with an overwhelming urgency to find out more.

There is something profoundly human about our wish to know who we are, where we are going and where we are coming from.

It doesn’t matter if we are astronauts or housewives or musicians or presidents or teachers. We are explorers. Our job is to keep learning. To keep growing. To keep discovering. To climb mountains and cross oceans, both mentally and physically. To keep searching. And to keep building impressive and life-changing things.

The American astronomer Carl Sagan once said:

”Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known”

So let’s keep exploring!

A good start would be to watch this:

And this:

And this:

IN SEARCH OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN!

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a coffee shop reading a book, while a conversation at the next table suddenly caught my attention.

There were three people at the table; one man and two women, and the man was doing 99% of the talking. His message was basically this:

Women are mediocre.

They have no talent.

No matter what field you are looking into; literature, art, politics, you name it; women are always creating less interesting work than men.

Oh, lord.

I really, really wanted to break in. I wanted to get up and walk over to the table and look the guy in the eyes and be extremely convincing and say:

THIS IS NOT TRUE, AND YOU KNOW IT.

But I didn’t. I just remained seated two meters away, all angry, hiding my long, red ears behind my book.

And then I went home and started making a list of incredible women.

I scanned my memory in search of women that have inspired me; Women that have made me better. Made me laugh. Made me move. Made me want more. Brave & brilliant women that have pushed the limits of society and culture, in order to make great changes in their and our world.

This is what I found:

Anaïs Nin (French author, 1903–1977)

Fearless and brave, extravagant and hard working. She never gave up her dream of becoming an author. She refused to let her gender limit her (one of the things she did was to publish erotic literature in a time where women were absolutely not encouraged to talk about (or even think about) sex). She was full of wisdom – and not afraid to spread it. Several of my favorite quotes are from here (“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”, Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage and so on).


Miranda July (american musician, writer, actress and film director, 1974-)

OH, MIRANDA! I’ve been in love with her ever since I saw her movie “Me and You and Everyone We Know” back in 2006. My crush just grew bigger as I read her book No one belongs here more than you (a collection of strange and poetical short stories) and discovered her wonderful project Learning to Love you More (where she is collecting different kinds of stories from people all over the world). Humor, brains, energy and style – what a combination. I am most definetely a fan!


Patti Smith (American poet, musician and photographer, 1946 -)

Patti Smith was one of the first women I really looked up to. I remember walking around with her music in my headphones, longing to have her courage and her voice. I admire her poetic approach to life, her faith in patterns & coincidences, her political radicalism and her unconditional love for great art. She definitely has her own opinions – and she’s never afraid of speaking out loud.

Sophie Calle (French artist, 1953-)

A great source of inspiration. Her work is a continuous investigation of life, and I love the way her art expresses curiosity, openness and ability to look at the world from many different perspectives. She is using a lot of different media, never limiting herself to just one thing. Seeing her work always makes me want to get to know people around me. And it makes me want to create!

Lady Gaga (american singer, 1986-)

Ok. I never thought I would say this, but after reading this blogpost and watching this interview, I have to admit that I have a lot to learn from Mother Monster. I might not be the biggest fan of her music, but i DO admire her courage, her creativity, her will power, her eagerness to make a difference, her optimism, her talent and the fact that she is working her butt off to achieve her very ambitious goals!

Karen Blixen (Danish author, 1885-1962 )

No list of great women without Karen Blixen! She was a fabulous storyteller and an adventurous traveller, living at a time where women were expected to do little more than cooking, cleaning and giving birth. Almost 50 years after her death, her words most definitely still have their value. Like this quote for example, When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

WHO IS INSPIRING YOU – AND WHY?

I will be very happy if you share your female role models with me, so we can make a much longer list of extraordinary women!

Scientists, politicians, mothers, teachers, religious leaders, actors, lawyers, clowns, musicians, hard-working workers, nannies, athletes, friends…..BRING THEM ALL ON!


I recently bumped into this quote by the American author Denis Waitley:

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

For some reason it reminded me of a nightmare I had as a child:

The dream was about a huge navy ship that I was visiting with my parents. It was lying in the harbour – almost ready to sail – and we were invited on board to have a quick look. I was fascinated by the ship, and ran ahead of my parents, playing around in the different rooms of the ship, pretending that I was the captain. And I totally forgot about time & place. But suddenly I looked out of the window and realized that the ship had left the harbour. We were sailing! And through the small, circular window I could see my parents waving desperately at me from the shore.

I started screaming, and ran off to find the real captain.

–You have to turn the ship around, I’m not supposed to be here, I cried.

But he just looked at me with sad eyes and said:

–I’m sorry kiddo. I can’t help you. This ship is way to big to turn around, it can only sail in one direction. The only way for us to get back to where we came from is by sailing around the earth. But don’t you worry. It will only take a year.

Luckily, this is where I woke up.

I was all sweaty and my heart was beating like crazy. Being six or seven at the time, the thought of living on a ship without my family was pretty much the end of the world. But I believe there’s also another reason why this dream scared me so much:

The feeling of not having a choice.

Life is full of challenges, and we all know what it’s like to feel stuck. Loosing a job, a friend or a lover. Saying things we regret. Doing things we can’t undo. Being sick. Being hurt. Doubting ourselves. Feeling lonely. Sooner or later we all run into problems that seem impossible to solve.

But the good news is: being absolutely stuck – with no options what so ever – is something that only occurs in nightmares. In the real world, our ships CAN be turned around. We always have the power to choose!

We might feel like we are drowning. We might feel like the walls are closing in around us. We might believe that there is absolutely nothing we can do to change our circumstances, to be happy again, to move on. But this is not true.

One of the main things that separate humans from animals is our power to make choices. When nothing feels right, we can choose to take a left. We can choose to walk away, to turn around or to keep walking. We can smile, even when it feels like we have nothing to smile about. We can raise our voices, even when we feel like hiding. We can get out of bed and create changes in our lives, even when it feels like gravity itself is holding us back.

No matter how stuck we feel, it’s always possible to take a small step forward. And now is the time to do it!

Like Barack Obama says:

”Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”