Tuesday, June 21, 2011
We may not look like much in NZ, but you should know that in Denmark, Vincent and I are kind of a big deal. While we shared our meatball footlong in our little apartment at lunchtime yesterday, we watched Oprah (who was touring countries and comparing the ways Americans and other cultures live), and happened to catch her when she was in Denmark. Separating the gist from the wibuwibu (some nonsense about a bread she's obsessed with that is like "eating earth"), it transpired that in general, people in Denmark care less about possessions; they value lifestyle and people. They pay slightly more tax than most countries and as a result have free education and healthcare for everybody, and students are given money to attend university. Denmark has the smallest gap between the richest and poorest 10% of all developed countries, and very little homelessness and poverty. When Oprah asked her tour guides Nanna and Stine how success is measured in Denmark, they told her it's by happiness.
When I was little and I would catch a fairy or pick a dandelion or by some miracle get the bigger side of the wishbone, I always wished to be happy. I didn't even know people wished to be things like married or famous or for cars or dolls (I saved those kinds of things for my prayers; who's laughing now?), and I don't think I felt unhappy, I just wanted to know that happiness was going to be something that was mine. In hindsight, I might have made some wishes for ambition, but if the wishes did come true, I'm glad about what I wished for. I've definitely had troughs in my life, and some really difficult times, but I have always had that happiness, never more so than now. Vincent and I don't have much money, but it's enough to buy chocolate and go to the film festival. We don't have highly-respected jobs (I would go so far as to say mine is lowly-respected/barely-respected/some of my friends don't consider it a job), but they allow us to do things we like and spend lots and lots of time together, and to sleep at night. We don't have a car, we haven't travelled, most of our appliances, clothes and books are secondhand, and we live in an apartment with a bedroom window that doesn't quite shut and where we can't entertain people because we can't fit them. And I have a degree in philosophy.
We are some of the happiest people I know. Fuck capitalism and convention.
Vincent, a toast to our success.
(Image from Denmarkemb.org)