from My Struggle Book 4 by Karl Ove Knausgaard


The silence was not oppressive, it was open. p 19



1. allowing access, passage, or a view through an empty space; not closed or blocked up.

2. exposed to the air or to view; not covered.

3. officially admitting customers or visitors; available for business.

4. (of a person) frank and communicative; not given to deception or concealment.

5. (of a question, case, or decision) not finally settled; still admitting of debate.

6. Music (of a string) allowed to vibrate along its whole length.


1. move or adjust (a door or window) so as to leave a space allowing access and view.

2. unfold or be unfolded; spread out.

The word puts me in mind of welcome diner signs after a long car trip.

Arms flung out to the side while life comes at you full force like an ocean wave.

A mind in the January of the year. Potential and possibility sparkle in the air.

This is my word for the year. I want to be wide armed. I want to be willing to embrace chance and whatever comes my way.

The snow is falling now, blanketing the ground in white and the world feels fresh and new. Such are the wonders of January. I feel like the months ahead will be filled with change and unexpected surprises and I want to be ready for whatever they may be.

January is the beginning and the genesis for what follows. We’ve let go of the last year and those cumulative expectations. Today I feel lighter, like the sled I am dragging behind me can be filled with whatever I choose to put on it.

Perhaps I will be more discriminating this year, maybe I won’t gather and lay claim to everything my fingertips touch. I have a bad habit of connecting in some way with people, places, ideas and I carry them with me. Come December I feel loaded down and it’s a struggle to move under that weight. I have been, for the past twelve months, following through with daily challenges: journal writing, taking photos and putting them online, and creating weekly blog posts. Over the course of the year it slowly became more about the act of completing the challenge rather than the magic of the experience.

True, some of those actions have become habit. The journal writing is the punctuation point to my day. And to lighten the load I’ve decided to post my favorite photo for the week instead of one every day. I hope this will mean I want to do it instead of feeling the burden of being forced to do it.

I’m slowly discovering that without T in the house there is space for decisions, there is room in my brain for choice. I’m welcoming the freedom, but feel overwhelmed by the emptiness.

Yet silence, in the words of Karl Ove, has some merit. It is indeed quiet at my house; the hustle and bustle of a having college freshman around has given way to the snore of aging animals whose greatest wish involves napping most of the day on the bed. The first few days after he left the calm felt constricting—as if fog had a weight, a solid mass pressing down. But I have felt it easing up. I’m making my way though the open expanse of not being necessary. More swimming, less flailing.

I try to remind myself that when my arms are open, I can decide what to embrace. But if they are closed, it will all pass me by and there won’t be anything left to hold on to.

I could close down and be constricted, but I want to be inspired and uplifted, to be lighter and more nimble. I want to be that neon diner sign you see in the dark, knowing that a cup of coffee and piece of your favorite pie is waiting the moment you sit down in the booth. I’m pushing open the door to the unknown and walking through to whatever is waiting for me on the other side.

Here’s to a new year and a chance to embrace all the meanings of your One Little Word.

2 thoughts on “from My Struggle Book 4 by Karl Ove Knausgaard

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