Text: Ellen Wild
The moon was full last night. Silver light bright enough to illuminate the white mountains outlining the valleys. A whole world of stars and northern lights behind the travelling clouds. I woke up with the ice frozen in the fjord. Squares of ice floating to the beach in the morning. The sunset fractalized in pinks and yellows. Crystal glitters in the quite air. So much beauty, only witnessed by the handful of people that live here.
On days like this, when the cold winter winds blow, I imagine what life was like more than a 1000 years ago. In a time when winter was still something limiting. Isolating you just a bit more from the world. When thick layers of snow and ice covered the little land that was useful. When the cold demanded all of your waking focus.
The world was different then. Can you imagine cutting down trees and spending months making a boat. Sailing from the west coast of Norway to the still quite unknown new land of ice, to escape a growing claustrophobic political landscape. Your ancestors did.
Norsemen came to Iceland in 874, running ashore an untouched land. Can you imagine building a house from scratch? All the while living of the land because you have to wait a whole year before you’d have any useful crops. And even then, you'd have to ground your own flour, bake your own bread. Standing so close to the reality of physical life, on a planet that gives as easily as it takes.
Can you imagine them looking up at the stars and sky, sometimes wondering about the same as us. Somewhere inside of you sits the remembrance of the hundreds of rituals and songs, born from nature and the hard reality of life. Today we have washing machine and dishwashers and microwaves and electricity that heats everything. Doing the things for us that used to require a thousand times more of our time.
Today we have the constant grinding stress of making enough money for all of that. You could argue about what life is better. Can you imagine having to put hours of energy in keeping your house warm enough? Almost all your living hours to survive. Spring, summer and autumn. Then winter. Today we have forgotten the flow of the seasons. It’s like they are still there, but they became a side-dish to our main-course life of running a full agenda of obligations.
How do you fill up that life of yours? How are you building along on that thousand years of making things easier? Do you fill all the time that came free with meaningful things? How would you describe it to your ancestors? Would they understand? Are you sure you understand?
Promise me, the next time the stars are out, gaze up and empty your thought. Empty and fill yourself up with this world and your time in it. For all those who came before and for all those who are still about to come.