In the time of Corona, I don’t know what the ripple effect is going to be for any of us. I don’t know when a grocery run is safe and when it isn’t. I don’t know when all this will be over, and what kind of summer we can expect. But I do know one thing and that is trusting Icelanders in a time of crisis is safe. We sure are unity driven when things go wrong. We might not always know how to compliment each other in harvest times, but let’s deal with that later.
These current times are when we go far beyond our unofficial national phrase “þetta reddast” meaning: it will all work out. A phrase that can be viewed as a careless throwaway or a spiritual guide - as in, releasing fear and trusting the best possible outcome. This is when we can trust our authorities and the team that has been assigned to guide our nation during the crisis via daily broadcasts.
Another aspect of all of this is how scrappy things have gotten, in a really healthy way. There seem to be deeper connections while actions are more relaxed. In BC times (Before Corona), my social media feed consisted of people being fairly flashy, showing off their travels, restaurant outings, high-end purchases and posing in their remodelled island-structured kitchens. Almost as if the wealthier Range Rover crowd had designed a perfect life filter that the rest were trying to decode in order to keep up with that celebrity-like lifestyle.
Now that we’re all staying at home, fully left with not much more than our own resourcefulness - the hierarchy that tends to shine through in our little nation, at times seems to be gone missing. The impulse to share every important moment, and less than so remains, but for the first time in years, the filter has been removed and raw realness shines through. People are making their own sourdough bread and growing herbs from scratch.
In previous global crises - such as the 2008 financial crisis when Iceland fell off its high horse and realized that the Icelandic horse is in fact small, but highly talented - we searched within and used our intuition. Intuition in Icelandic is innsæi - to see within.
This is when people began to discover their natural trades and create authentic art and goods. That stark cocaine-style restaurant look became rustic and people looked around in nature to see what could be created from the earth. Úr Vör does a very fine job at showcasing creativity and family owned businesses outside the capital - of which several began posting 2008.
If this is all a big message from Mother Earth to tell us to slow the heck down, Icelanders are listening and behaving accordingly. We as a nation are already talking about traveling within our island come summer - rediscovering our own magical land and forgoing a fancy international vacation. The newly added, and some still in construction, country hotels and spas might end up being ours to explore. The crowd at Jökulsárlón might be just us Icelanders.
The question remains what happens in the time of AC (After Corona) when we go back to our jobs and start socializing again, will the shiny filter automatically be back on? Or will we continue to grow within and trust each other. Will the nepotism grow stronger or will we trust an unknown source for a new gig?
Wouldn’t it be a dream for this newfound sense of vulnerability and fearlessness to have an infinite invitation? Wouldn’t we as a nation feel free? Wouldn’t it be great if we continue to honor our authentic selves?
To just be the raw, but soft Vikings we really are - allowing that awkward perfectionism to remain a part of the past. Instead of calling everyone a genius on social media - we’d say hey Jón your sourdough bread looks like shit - but your inner Viking is crushing it!
Text: Anna Rósa Parker