Sven Velander: the treasure is inside yourself
Sven Velander has lived most of his life in the tranquility of the countryside in Småland, Sweden. He is married to Eva Fodor Velander and is running together with her their Kittebo Kursgård. He likes to play the guitar and sing. The most special thing about Sven is that he has no goals.
We were discussing Quality of Life and the advice from the Buddhist priest who said you have to live in the moment and not goal-oriented. Then you were thinking a bit and said ‘that is the way I live’.
Yes, probably most of my life I had no goal. Maybe I found this out it before but when you said it I understood I actually live without goals. I have no problem with it because I am quite comfortable with my life.
When my father died, my life changed a little. I started to think about other things. I was very close to him. So then I had a change in my life.
You were growing up in these surroundings?
I grew up in the village besides this one. My parents bought this house 1980. But my family, on my father’s side, have been here, in this area, since 1600. My mother is from Skåne, so I have a little bit of Danish blood, since Skåne used to be Danish. I always have been here and someway I think I always come back here. Although, I have been out and living in town: I always come back. One reason is my father was like a magnet. I came back to him because I was close to him and we had very interesting discussions. You know, my father had been going to school for seven years only. However, he read lots of books. More than my mother. My mother was a kindergarten teacher, she had a higher schooling, she was quite educated. My father worked as a postman. He knew a lot of things because he read so much, like novels and newspapers too. He was a very good reader. Better than me, I don’t read so many things.
He learned me about many things. Maybe he not did learned me about how I should live my life. Should I have goals? No, not at all. I could be happy if I had learned a little bit about that. He never talked about goals. He learned me about things around here and the history. So I got interested in this area, someway. So always, I come back here.
It is also a very nice area. Can you describe it from your point of view?
I am a little bit blind, because I don’t see this beauty. There are small hills, vegetation, it is going up and down and you have flat landscape and a little bit mixing. You have much forest and small lakes.
Since you were growing up, it must have been a high a quality of life in your youth?
Now I can see that. Maybe I did not see it when I was young. When you get older you can understand that it was a good time in life.
I actually never have any goal. I never compare or am competing with others. I’m really not interested. I don’t know why. I think it is so because I can do it my way, so I have nothing to compare. You know that I am very much interested in music. I started to play punk… you always play punk before you can play. Later, you play better. I never felt I was worse than others because I think I played it my way. Not comparing to others. I really have no goals like as a next step to be the boss of the company. I never think like that. I don’t have any big goals.
That is very interesting. I am more goal oriented so I want to talk a little bit more about it. Without goals.. like today: do you have a plan with the things to do?
It is more Eva who plans and I do them [lots of laughter]. Of course when Eva and me have a meeting, I must have a goal to go there. But today, there is no goal, we take the day how it comes to us. No, I don’t really have any.
How does that feel?
It feels good but at the same time I can spend the time very easy. Do nothing actually. That’s not really good. I am good at do nothing and being lazy. I’m very good at it. But if I need to, I can work very hard too. That’s no problem. Of course, I have small goals but other people have more goals like how they should reach something and the next step to reach that. My brain is not working like that. So maybe I enjoy the moment.
You have less concerns, worries?
I must say I was much worried when I was young. I was worried of everything. Now, I am more comfortable. Vad heter ‘lugn’, Eva?
[Eva comes from the kitchen into the room] Eva: calm.
Sven: I think my father was like that and my grandfather was also very calm. And now I have a little bit peace of that too. I have peace now. I think I was inside fighting with myself when I was younger.
You found it?
Yeah, it is good. Why should you fight inside yourself? It is better to make peace with yourself. That I can see is very good. I must say I have come to this point when I got a little bit older. Before, I could worry about everything. So, my way has been a little bit up.
Maybe I had this in me all the time but my family situation was like that. Something always changes when one person goes out of your life, like my father. It changed the whole family. He was in some way the glue. Now it is more spilt up.
So you had a very fine youth?
Yes, I can think so. I was more close to my father. My brother was more close to my mother.
Coming back to having no goals, e.g. when you started playing guitar, did you not want to be like Pete Townshend?
No, I don’t think so. I have never been interested to be the best. Of course, I want to be improve when I practice. For me the most important thing is creativity: I write songs. Now I play songs from others too. But at the beginning, I was not so good in playing, or not so good in singing, so it was better to sing my own songs! Because I made them. That was really making me going with this playing, my music interest. That’s the purpose. Perhaps it is a little bit like a goal, but I don’t see it like one, that’s the reason why I continued and still continue with it. I can sing and play my own songs. If I only could play songs from others, like in a cover band, or as a cover musician, it would not be so funny. The big thing for me is to make my own songs.
What kind of criteria do you have for the kind of things you do?
I am very interested on family… vad heter släktforskning?
Sven: that is my thing. With my computer, I’m searching because I want to make clear how it was in the old days. I am very interested in history, I always have a hunger in knowing things. That’s why I listen to radio, because I can learn something. Actually, I can work on my computer and listen to the radio at the same time. The biggest thing for me is to know. To learn and to know. I am interested in things that happen in the present time as well as the past time. It may be cute when there are men going to Mars, but the future time does not interest me so much.
So, the interest is there without being goal oriented.
Actually, I want to learn.
I am not interested in sports. Not at all. Because they compete and I do not care for that. So Eva doesn’t need to look at the boring football stuff, the matches on television. I don’t understand why there are 11 men on one side and 11 men on the other side hunting after a ball. What is that? For me it is nothing. But I understand other people enjoy this. But, I am not interested in it.
Can you tell a little bit about Kalle Anderson?
I actually met him, although I was very young at that time. It was a man born in America. I think around 1896. His parents were Swedish. The family had more brothers and sisters but they all died when they were quite young. So it was only him growing up, and the family decided to go back to Sweden to the house where his father came from. But after half a year, his mother went back to America. She didn’t wanted to be here. So Kalle lived with his father on a big farm. He lived there his whole life. He was a little bit strange because he did not want to repair the house and he don’t want to take care of things so much. At the end, he was living in the house that was nearly falling down on him.
However, he was a very nice person. He liked – like me – to talk to people. He had no watch, no radio, no newspaper. But he knew about everything. He could discuss things. I think he talked to people who told him things. So his idea was – since he had no watch – to go to sleep when he was tired, to go up when the sun rose and to eat when he was hungry. That was the easy life for him. And he lived his life, I think, quite happily.
Sometimes, nowadays life is too complicated. You should have internet, you should choose different things all the time and on Facebook you must like… there so much you must do.
Maybe, Kalle was more close to the nature. I think it could be like that. Probably he was satisfied with it. You can be satisfied with things when you do not know anything better. But this man had been in America, so he knew better. Anyway, he lived like that.
He had very bad clothes and he was not cleaning himself so much. He ate bad food, old food, like that. At the end, he got a little bit sick, they took him to a hospital, cleaned him and of course he didn’t live so much long after that…
They changed his environment
He was an interesting person.
Is he an example for yourself? To live a good quality of life?
No, actually I think I must clean myself and have a little bit better clothes.
Yes, I like that he had the rhythm of nature… like animals have: they sleep when they are, go up when the sun rise, eat when they are hungry. A clock is good, but stress not. A mobile telephone is stressful for some people. I think it was better life before mobile because now they can reach everywhere. Before you could go out and leave the telephone inside. But now they call you directly and they can reach me here, there, everywhere, all over the world. I don’t know if it is good.
I think you must have a little bit of time for yourself. I need my own – I’m a Swede of course – I want to have my space and also a little bit time for myself. They say in Swedish ‘you are a lonely wolf’. I’m good at talking, but sometimes I actually need this time for myself, only for me. That’s what I think, people should take time for themselves.
Kalle did it all the time, but you can’t do it at work?
No, then you must follow the rules what they expect you to do.
Yesterday, we talked about Africa and that the Africans have an enrichment ‘the bus goes when it is full’. That is very good! Why should it go before? In Sweden, two people go in the bus and it goes away and then one runs after it, he can’t go with the bus because the bus must go on time, this very minute… it is stupid.
Eva: I just want to say something about what you said before about ‘you need time for yourself’ and how it would help more people. I was thinking about someone I know. He said that he can’t even be one or two hours alone. If he is at home and his wife and kids are out on a Saturday night he also must go away, he can’t sit alone. And I don’t think it is good.
Sven: it is a bit like stress.
It is pushing?
The recipe could be: you should have much social time with other people but you also should have a little bit time for yourself. You should learn to know yourself and then you can be more comfortable with yourself. You should not have a war within yourself, you should have peace inside. Many have this fighting. They do not have a good self-confidence. They worry about what people would do or say. I think like Kalle, he doesn’t care about what people think of him. Of course people could think he should clean himself. But why?
What would be the recipe for the person whom Eva describes?
I only met him once. Actually I think he likes the way and life he has. But some way, he doesn’t like it. I don’t know him so well, maybe he doesn’t want – that can really be a bit of a problem for a person – to go too deep in himself. He is afraid of what he finds. You understand? If you go under your skin, you can find things you don’t want to see and then you live not too deep, you only live with what you see around you. Because if you come to close to yourself you can be afraid. You are not used to have a relationship with yourself. Maybe he gets afraid. He does not want to have deep thoughts. I think he more a person of money. I am not like that.
Eva: I have an advice: be a friend with yourself because you must socialize every day with yourself.
First you should make peace with yourself and then you should not be afraid to meet yourself. Actually you should be comfortable to be alone.
Sven: accept yourself.
That’s what you do by training. Train to be with yourself. You go deeper and deeper… and you should not run away from yourself. You should force yourself a little bit, not too much then you get scared.
You have different kind of people. Some people are not so deep. They don’t want to. They only life for what they see outside and they don’t think so deep. Many people can only carry on: they marry, get children, and maybe when the children move away, than they sit there alone and maybe then they must face themselves and then it can be a problem. Because life is running, is moving all the time.
I have learned to live with myself.
You are satisfied with yourself, having a good quality of life?
Yes. Sometimes I think I could be more nice… [laughter] with myself… no, no, I’m joking. I accept myself and that is the most important. If you accept yourself it is more easy to accept others. You can actually read that in the bible ‘if you can forgive yourself then you can forgive others’.
I came here to Sweden especially because the welfare is very high. But you say that the Danish are the most happy people of the world?
That’s what they say. We Swedes have lot of food on the table and they take care of you in the hospital. However, you have a kind a mental press: you can’t say what you want, they hide inside what they think, you can’t really say want you want in Sweden. The Danish are different: they just don’t care.
I think you must say out what you really think. Even if it is not nice all the time. You must say out and you must have the right to say what you want. I think it is a human right to say and think what to think want you want. Nobody should tell you ‘you can’t talk like that, you can’t do things like that’. Because you can think, you should have right to think, in some way, other people are stupid. Maybe it is not right, but you have right to say that.
You can be wrong in the wat you think. But you should have right to think and say it. So other people can criticize you and you can have a discussion and maybe they can change your mind or you have something else from there.
The Danish don’t care what other people think?
I think it is their culture: they do what they want. They don’t care so much about the food. Food should be good to eat. They have a red sausage: pølse. They paint it red inside. I don’t know any other country who has red painted sausages but the Danish they have and eat it.
In Sweden, they prohibited smoking on certain locations quote early: you can’t smoke there and there. I think the Danish has also these laws now but before you could smoke wherever you wanted. Because they didn’t want people to say you can’t do that. They are a bit like that.
I don’t think they follow the rules like the Swedes. Swedes follow the rules very strict (and of course they can break the rules when nobody sees it). It is quite common that the Danish don’t care, they think it is stupid. Like Italian people ‘it is a stupid rule so why should we follow that, it is not for me‘. I think Sweden is too much a follower. I think you should be a little bit more rebel. That could be good.
That’s the reason why I like the Sex Pistols and Johnny Rotten. They did not change the political system, but they did change the music. Before, music had this kind of status quo. Punk music took it back to the ground: everybody can play. You don’t have to be a super hero like Eric Clapton to play a solo. Everybody can play. And that’s what I like with about punk music and Johnny Rotten. He actually can’t sing so well, anyway he sings, he is a singer.
People should be more going their own way and try to be creative. You can do more than you think. We have this kursgård and we do everything by ourselves. We don’t have money enough to buy everything we have to do. We must create by ourselves. E.g. I have made this postcard. I have created the layout. If I would ask somebody to do that it would cost too much. So you must try to find it out. And I have made this sign by myself [the Kittebo sign].
You have to be creative.
Eva: someone asked which designer made it.
Sven: someone thinks it was made on the computer.
Eva: someone asked which font it is; the wood is more than 100 years old and Sven painted the words on it.