Iceland and I

We have all felt it at some point in our lives: a strange, unsettling fascination with something we have never had or a place we have never been. We don't know why we want it, nevertheless that natural attraction is still there. I don't remember when or why I feel in love with Iceland but as many of my close friends can attest, I love everything about that country. 

How well do you know Iceland? To you, it might as well just be a land full of ice. Or perhaps you've heard about it in the news when the country itself almost went bankrupt. I do not know much about Iceland myself. To me it is a strange land of unworldly beauty, a land marked by nature where you can drive for hours on end without coming across a single person, building, or even a road sign, a country where many renowned modern musicians call home, a land of sagas, a place that I am deeply in love with. 

Volcanic Rhyolite at Landmannalaugar, Photograph by Wild Wonders of Europe

Volcanic Rhyolite at Landmannalaugar, Photograph by Wild Wonders of Europe

Everything in Iceland relates back to its geography in one way or another. Iceland's topography is one of the most unique in the world. Untamed by humans, nature's scars are still visible across the country. One can clearly see how the volcanoes and glaciers have shaped the land over thousands of years. Beautiful and graceful sceneries created by the most harsh and unforgiving forces imaginable. I cannot help but imagine how different it is to live in such a place. How deeply the forces of nature have affected the lives of the people. I have always been inspired by nature and landscapes. The people of Iceland are one with nature, they respect the land below their feet and the landscape in front of their eyes. They have learned to live in one of the most desolate places on Earth and their knowledge is invaluable to me. 

Hverfjall Volcano on Myvatn Lake, Photograph by Orsolya and Erlend Haarberg

Hverfjall Volcano on Myvatn Lake, Photograph by Orsolya and Erlend Haarberg

Modern society has grown unaccustomed to loneliness. Whenever we are alone we feel that we are bored; unproductive. We are afraid of spending time with ourselves. True loneliness isn't a negative thing. It is a virtue. It is the ability to reflect and meditate by oneself. It is the ability to be comfortable with oneself. What does loneliness have to do with Iceland? With a total of 320,000 inhabitants and a population density of just 3.1 people per square kilometer, Iceland is one of the least populated and perhaps most lonely places on Earth. Visiting such a place would be a dream come true. I don't wish to run away from people, to be distant from everything and everyone I know. All I wish for is to be able to approach myself, and often times being alone is the only way to do it. Most of the people who travel to Iceland recall their trip as a deeply personal and spiritual voyage. I know that the moment I set foot on that island my life will no longer be the same. 

The culture of Iceland is rich and the people are extremely friendly. Many travelers comment at how surprised they are when they find such warm people in such a cold place. Iceland is a country of sagas also known as Íslendingasögur to the Icelandic people. Sagas are stories of the second and third generation settlers that have been passed down through writing and word of mouth. With such a rich culture, warm people, and awe-inspiring landscapes, its hard to doubt why there has been a modern resurgence of music happening in Iceland. One of my favorite musicians of all time, Ólafur Arnalds, comes from the small town of Mosfellsbær. His music is unlike any other. Ólafur Arnalds mixes his extensive training with modern technology for a very innovative take on classical music. Less epic, more personal, slightly eerie, unsettling, and meditational. A sublte reflection of his culture and surroundings. 

I think these kinds of projects definitely make it easier and make it feel less like a lonely job - when you realize the fact that you are actually doing it for somebody else. It is communication; communication without speaking. Anything I can do to let people into my head, or to facilitate a closer relationship with my work, makes this communication more intimate.
— Ólafur Arnalds

We find beauty in the most unusual places in life. I see beauty everywhere I go, but what is most beautiful to me is what I have yet to see. One day I will visit Iceland. One day I will sit on the hills overlooking the fjords, on the large uninhabited plains, on the cliffs by the ocean, in a small Icelandic pub. I will close my eyes. I will breathe in and I will be happy.  

Laugavegur Trail, Photograph by Petr Brož

Laugavegur Trail, Photograph by Petr Brož

Kemst þó hægt fari.
(We rode slow, but we ride sure.)
— Icelandic Proverb