To date, I have lived nearly five years in Oslo, Norway and during that time, have come to gain a little bit of perspective on “the culture”. I put “the culture” in quotes, as Norwegian culture, though similar in many ways throughout the country; it is as diverse, and rich a culture, throughout its many communities, as any country in the world.
Norway taught me to value community. The signs on the borders of Oslo read “Oslo Kommune”, which translates to mean “Oslo Community”. I was on a flight some years ago and had, at that point, lived in Oslo for about a year or two. The man next to me on that flight was Norwegian. He asked me, “So what have you learned about Norway, living hear?” I responded, “I´ve learned that in Norway, all things are of the community, by the community and for the community”. He said that I had learned a lot.
In building The International Theatre Academy Norway, my first conservatory to build, I was asked by every journalist and political figure I spoke with, the following questions:
1. What makes you different? (as a business and school)
2. What makes you necessary?
These are great questions to ask of oneself.
I could easily answer the first question, no problem. However, the second question, at first, tripped me up. “How am I necessary? Am I necessary?”, I thought. “Are my actions necessary”? What a metaphysical question. That question forced me to think outwardly and forced me to think in a perspective of service. What was I contributing to the community that was necessary, that was needed? What value was I offering, what gap was I filling?
In order to be necessary, you must be responding to or filling the needs of others. There is no other way. In other words, you must be acting in a way that commits an act of service, of giving.
Serving others can lead to an unequivocally meaningful life. When you are serving others, your primary focus (or energy) is taken off of yourself and is put outwards, outside of your own personal motivations, desires and interests and you commit yourself toward a good that is more than yourself, that is bigger than just you.
What kind of artist do you aspire to be? Are you serving an audience of one or do you commit yourself to something larger, such as your community and the needs of the people within the kommune?
What makes you different and what makes you necessary?