Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Christian's cousins from Norway came to California for a visit. They spent some time on the beach, saw the sites, and doted on Annike.

Being from a small country means that they don't have the luxury of being as ethnocentric as we do when we are from the U.S. Even the 13-year-old speaks conversational English because, as they say, no one else is going to learn Norwegian. I always appreciate the chance to glimpse my own life through the eyes of another culture.

One of the observations made over the course of their visit stuck with me. It seemed to them that everything is bigger in America. Our cars are bigger (perhaps we have farther to go?), our portion-sizes at restaurants are bigger (they so courteously did not comment on the fact that this makes our people bigger too, but it is a well-known fact, so I will say it myself), our trees are bigger (we DID take them to see the redwoods), and even our squirrels are bigger (I can't quite figure this one out.) We camped in Yosemite, so of course our "tent" (R.V.) is bigger, our stores are bigger, our milk comes in bigger containers, and even our medium-sized drinks come large. I think you get the picture.

It got me thinking about the values we practice without recognizing. I would never tell someone I believe that bigger is better, yet, I subconsciously live that value. In my mind, it makes sense to me to buy the giant shampoo bottle at Target because I get the most shampoo for my money - but after a while I begin to need a bigger shower to hold that giant shampoo, and a bigger bathroom cabinet to house my collection of super-sized lotions and soaps, and a bigger house for that bigger bathroom. It all begins and ends somewhere.

At the root of this practice of big-ness, is the inability to distinguish the difference between "want" and "need". We sure throw the word "need" around lightly. We need coffee, our cars need to be washed, we need vacations from our vacations... but somehow it all turns into a habit of consumption at large, literally. I expect it will be an on-going life struggle for me. However, I need to welcome the chance to have my views of "normal" challenged.

1 comment:

  1. Not to mention Ashley - your BIG hospitality too :-) We had a wonderful time with Christian, Annike and your parents. Thanks a lot for making our summer vacation one of the most memorable ever. I will email Christian a few photos. Terje


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