Monday, August 11, 2008

Lykkelig & Glede

A couple of years ago, an incredibly tender independent film titled Sweet Land came out of Minnesota. In the film, a German mail-order bride named Inge travels from Norway to Minnesota just after the first World War to marry Olaf, a quiet Norwegian farmer. Their marriage is forbidden by the local minister on the grounds that America was at war with Germany.

The next day, Olaf takes a photograph of Inge in front of his farmhouse, her hand raised to brush a lock of hair away from her face. Olaf's neighbor, Frandsen, encourages her to smile, asking Olaf what the word for happy is. "Lykkelig," responds Olaf.

"Lykkelig is happy? I thought glede was happy," says Frandsen.

"That's more like delighted," says Olaf.

"What's the difference?"

"There's no difference."

"So why have two words then?"

Forty years later, at Olaf's funeral, Frandsen holds Inge's portrait in his hands. "Why are lykkelig and glede different?" he asks again. "Different kinds of happy," says Inge. "Different kinds of happy."

Encompassed in just two words are fortune and happiness, delight and joy, the ability to please and gladden. In the last month, I've felt a constant shift between elation and quiet joy. It makes my feet itch to move and it puts me to bed at night.

Here's to a lifetime of happiness.

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