I wish I could live in Venice or Stockholm. Venice makes sense because I visited the city more than once and had the opportunity to get a sense of its atmospheric beauty, drama and romance. Stockholm however, does not make sense at all because I have never been anywhere in Scandinavia, much less Stockholm. So, how come?
What I hear and read about Stockholm seems to jive with me. The climate is right because I like cold weather. People tend to be understated, moderate and civilised, I like the sound of that too. The music scene is not bad either. But, there is one social aspect in Sweden which I like a great deal called Lagom (pronounced laaw-gum). Lagom refers to the social behaviour of moderation amongst a group of people. Everyone behaves in such a way as to be mindful of other’s feelings and counter-needs so, they all accommodate one another in conversation, food, drink, physical space etc. To be honest, all of that is pish-posh, as far as I am concerned as it applies anywhere civilised gatherings take place.
A specific element of Lagom however, gets my vote completely. It’s something I have been trying to promote for years in similar social gatherings with limited success. I love long silences! I really find the company I keep more enjoyable if, we spend time together drinking, eating, talking and laughing but also, naturally allow and respect lengthy pauses of silence for everyone to nurse their own thoughts for any length of time.
But this freaks people out and they would rather fill these precious noise-free voids with asinine questions, show pictures on their phones, talk about the weather, football, politics, their cute children / pets, etc. I wish they would just leave well alone and wait for a more worthy thought to form in someone’s mind so the conversation can kick start for legitimate reasons, instead of filling the precious silence with horrible inanity. Happily, Lagom embraces the concept of ‘pregnant pauses’ completely.
Strictly speaking, ‘pregnant pauses’ are comedic tricks inserted by the performer to heighten the impact of a funny punchline but, that’s not what I am talking about. My focus is on the unintentional awkward social situations when the conversation gradually grinds to a halt. I personally welcome those pregnancies with open arms and closed mouth! These periods of silence should be accepted and allowed to co-exist with the rest of the social code.
I so much want to move to Stockholm and arrange for Lagomic social gatherings where everyone is pregnant with long pauses until verbal contractions kick in.
As the American writer and philosopher Elbert Green Hubbard once said: He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.
One-way ticket to Stockholm, please!