Saturday 28 May 2022. Midday

Having avoided writing and exercise – things that make me feel good – all morning, I eventually sit down in the garden to feel a bit shit about myself. Sometimes my fear of failing is so deep and complex that I think it’s actually success that I fear more: starting something, working hard and then failing, by realising I’m not good enough, feels worse than failing by not starting at all.

So instead I eat pastries and drink tea, and listen to playlist I’ve made named Blå. It’s nearly one hundred classic Swedish songs of different genres – everything from instrumental 40s jazz via 60s children’s songs to 80s pop – that are somehow about summer, nature, the sea, travel, and all the things I associate with Swedish summer holidays. There is always a melancholy about these songs, when-, where- and whoever they come from. Like life and like love, the summer is brief in the Nordic. The joy of sunshine, warm waters, time off and light nights is made more intense by being finite.

The music makes me feel so many different and difficult things that I don’t entirely understand it myself. A finished childhood, a left home country, some ended loves and my youth mostly behind me, I am contemplating the end of summer before it’s even started. The fear of the first step is bigger than the fear of the last. And at the same time, the taste of the first step is sweeter because of the knowledge that one day there will be a last.

Some sad Swedish song recommendations (beware of ads):

Visa från Utanmyra – Jan Johansson

Öppna landskap – Ulf Lundell

Så länge skutan kan gå – Evert Taube

Jag ger dig min morgon – Fred Åkerström

Dina färger var blå – Tommy Nilsson

Himlen är oskyldigt blå – Ted Gärdestad

Jag går och fiskar – Gyllene Tider

Brev från Lillan – Sven-Bertil Taube

Ute blåser sommarvind – performed by students at Adolf Fredriks School of Music

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