I met an old man who was fishing for mackerel as I was strolling along the harbor among the old boat houses. After sitting near him for a while, attempting to watch him without intruding, I ventured a friendly conversation. As he was sharing his story about retiring on the coast after so many years of busy city life, we stumbled across a word that had no direct English equivalent. “Lagom,” he told me, “means just the right amount.” I meditated on the thought for the rest of my trip, feeling how that sort of satisfaction resonated throughout what I had seen of Swedish culture, something so foreign to American culture, where there is no such idea of ever having enough.
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