I grew up in a Scandinavian section of Brooklyn in the 1940s. Many of the local stores’ banners were written in Finnish, as was the local newspaper. Nearby, Swedes, Norwegians, and other European families also contributed their colorful presence, and a variety of languages were spoken. As a young child, I marveled at the diversity of this cultural tapestry.
We come into this world as a blank slate and then begin recording the sights and sounds of our experiences. Straining my memory back to those innocent and impressionable days, I clearly remember Mrs. Linden. She lived in the next cooperative on the same street facing Sunset Park. These apartment buildings were built in large part by the immigrants who later occupied them.
The building in which Mrs. Linden lived had just four floors. I remember the spotless condition these were kept in. There was always the enduring scent of bleach or some other cleanser in the lobby and in the stairways. It seemed someone was always cleaning the glass doors or on their knees scrubbing the tile floors. Such conscientiousness reflected a deep appreciation for the opportunity to live there.
It was a rather cold and windy day as my grandmother and I bundled up for the walk over to Mrs. Linden’s first–floor apartment.
I wore a handwoven scarf, with my coat buttoned tight, and a herringbone cap with earflaps. (Funny how I remember those things!) When my grandmother pressed the button by the bronze-plated entryway, the door buzzed open. As we entered Mrs. Linden’s unit, we were greeted by the smells of freshly brewed coffee and her perfume.
We settled in for our visit. Grandmother and Mrs. Linden had coffee, and I had a cookie and some juice. Being a curious child, I had questions about all the items I found in her apartment. It was then that Mrs. Linden cleverly decided to plant the seeds of a teaching that’s taken me a lifetime to truly learn.
She handed me a snow globe. It had a miniature house with some spruce trees inside the glass globe. When you turned the globe upside down, miniature snowflakes gently began floating down within it. As I peered into the globe, I made myself very small. I imagined myself living in that log cabin with snow coming down and being cozy and warm inside. The little snow globe allowed my mind to take an imaginary trip. I told her, “I like it when I think about living in this cabin.”
As she noticed me getting very quiet, she decided to share a powerful lesson about life. “Do you like it because it makes you feel good?” she inquired.
With a sparkle in my eyes, I said, “Yes!”
She then took the snow globe, turned it upside down, and set it back on the table. “All those snowflakes are like the things you think about. See how they fly around in the air? Now, if you don’t shake it up, what happens?”
I replied, “Then the snow lies on the ground.”
Mrs. Linden said, “Isn’t that a lot of fun when you can go out and sled ride?”
I nodded my head.
“But there’s something even more fun, and that happens when all the things that float around in your head settle like snow on the ground. That makes the most wonderful picture you could ever imagine!”
How true to life her simple analogy has been! How many times have I shaken things up and caused storms in my life? How many times have I overthought problems and situations, only to realize that if I let my thoughts settle like the little snowflakes within the snow globe, a most marvelous scene would present itself?
I have learned that so often the storms of life only require that I sit still, and the sky will clear, and the most beautiful scenery will present itself. I feel truly blessed and humbled at the patience and presence of such teachers in my life. Mrs. Linden, I love you dearly!
Reflections from Turtle Lake,
P.S. Some of you have asked for a list of herbs I take for strength and longevity. I cover them in this Youtube video with a supplier’s link included. Since I’ve gotten such incredible results, they’ve put together a special package in my honor. Please take a peek.