I learned the word hygge several years ago from teaching colleague Danielle Polemeni (“Gettin’ Hygge With It”). Danielle has an impressive way of finding comfortable space in the midst of chaos, something she deliberately practices in many traditions. I admire Danielle and all those who seek that kind of inner calm and peace, but I have come to realize—or, rather, admit—that I myself have limited proclivity for such practices. Hygge has become the exception. (Now, I can’t claim a huge amount of success; but I do claim lots of practice.)
Our themes at Tandeta are deliberately loose, and contributions to “Hygge” reflect this philosophy. Several contributions focus on relationships as sources of comfort (such as poetry by Hilary Sallick, Susan Tornheim, Keith Tornheim, Mary Buchinger) and others have a strong sense of place (Naomi Myrvaagnes, for instance); some seek comfort in the more philosophical (Shelby Allen in “white ppace,” Denise Freed’s dance “Droste Effect,” and Kimberly Gladman’s column “Quantslut”).
A number of pieces explore cats (a dialog between Heidi Modica and Kimberly Gladman, “On Cats,” including photographs; “Pete and Patty” by Scott Axelrod, and “Love Story No. 19,” which takes comfort with cats to a unique place). I myself can’t imagine a moment of hygge without a canine companion; I explore my comfortable relationships with dogs, and a novel relationship with one cat, in “All of this is to say.” The issue concludes with essays and fiction that explore society-level comforts and discomforts.
In my tiny home that abuts a farm, I’ve found great comfort in the lowing of the small herd of cattle. “I’m over heeeeere,” says one, “And I’m over heeeeeeeere,” replies another, “And I’m right heeeeeere!” adds the next, for as long as the conversation needs to be in order to satisfy all the cows. Isn’t that, really, all the comfort most of us need: to make our presence known, and to have it acknowledged and reciprocated, as many times as necessary, to the point of peace?
I hope you find your hygge, dear reader. I will leave you with a few photos of the animals that bring me comfort:
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