Þetta Reddast by Ginni Seehagel

Þetta Reddast. It will all be okay.

Like Timon and Pumbaa told many of us at a young age—Hakuna Matata! Afterall, it means no worries for the rest of your days. In Iceland, Þetta Reddast. Similar, but less animated, and with a slightly different meaning. “No worries” can seem a bit ambiguous. Not to worry can mean not to care, though I don’t believe carelessness is at the root of either phrase.

iceland-�ettaReddast.jpeg

Þetta Reddast seems to be about survival while maintaining a sense of joy. It’s about determination but also trust. A belief that no matter the situation, things will have a way of working themselves out, and that you will be okay.

Does this mean that Icelanders come with an overarching “meh” attitude? No, I don't think so. It just means that “okay” is really quite subjective. If you are worried about holding onto a certain outcome, you are likely to end up disappointed and distraught. But if you adopt Þetta Reddast, surrender, and adapt to the situation, a sense of embrace to what really matters is formed. It’s about working with circumstance rather than against it. By doing so you may end up appreciating a sliver of something you were completely blind to before. And of course a streak of humour is attached to this philosophy—similar to what Canadians might feel as they say “Shit happens”.

This type of flexibility seems to be important, if not a pure necessity in a country of such volatility. Being here for even a short time, I have already sampled the significance of this particular attitude. 

iceland-always-windy.jpeg

Barren. Beautiful. Vast. Magical. Cold. Charming. Moon-like. Breathtaking. Dramatic. Harsh. All on a list of adjectives somewhere, to describe Iceland. This week I will add the word Relentless. In most places I’ve been it seems as though there is typically one natural element or characteristic that is dominant. In Ucluelet, it’s the ocean. In Calgaryit’s the sun. In Iceland, it’s wind. Wind so strong you feel like you can see it.

The past few nights have been spent sleeping in a vacuum. (No not this kind). But the kind where you adapt to the whistling, the whooooooosh-ing and the constant vibration as your lullaby, wondering whether or not the entire building will just get tired of being pressurized beyond its limits and implode into an unknown universe somewhere far far away. Tiptoeing to the bathroom in the middle of the night I’ve replayed the beginning scene from the Wizard Of Oz in my head many times over. “Auntie Em, Auntie Em!”.  

From inside I’ve witnessed the ocean’s waves traveling backward. Pushed back into the ocean before they’ve hardly had a chance to tag the shoreline. There is a small body of water directly outside my window—an estuary. To the left is the river Blanda, and to the right the Greenland Sea. The wind so powerful that the wake in the estuary commensurates with the tide.

I’ve seen miniature icebergs slam against the banks as if in fast forward, and have watched the ravens struggle in the wind for countless minutes. Even the seabirds aren’t exempt. The lack of control is almost comical as you can nearly pinpoint the moment in which their wings get caught up in the current, sending them well past their starting point in a parallel fashion. Sometimes you see groups of them, along for moral support, and one by one they lose their composure and have to start over again and again. You’d think they’d just take the hint already. I watched one struggle in mid-air for around half a minute and my abdomen started to ache. Not from guilt, but from imagining the stress and fatigue that must’ve been on its body as it hovered vertically and contorted, trying to break through what was like an invisible forcefield.

I thought it was only fair to see what all the kerfuffle was about. Yesterday I walked to the post office (*walking is an exaggeration—skating without blades is more accurate). After coming to the conclusion the post office was “closed” as the door just wouldn’t open, I “skated” further to explore the area until my fingers could no longer be warmed up by placing them under my clothes—anywhere that was still warm. I took photos, and cried and blew my nose involuntarily. Likely nothing would be in focus as there was just so much liquid being drawn out from...well, everywhere. The world was blurry and loud.

blonduos-iceland

After being blown about for quite some time I needed shelter in the worst way. Eeking over to a little yellow house (a café), I preordered in my head, anything that would be warm. I settled for a cinnamon bun and in that moment in time it was the best thing I’d ever ingested! Warm. Gooey. Cinnamony. Warm. Later I found out that the post office had not actually been closed. The door just needed to be pushed instead of pulled. Þetta Reddast!

Gone Away- be back sometime by Ginni Seehagel

“Gone Away—be back sometime”.

Gone fishin’—be back at dark thirty. There’s humour to a phrase like this. I grew up with a dad who has probably received a handful of these fishing-themed, escape-implying trinkets or gifts over the course of time. Yes he was/ is a fisherman (the recreational sort), but the phrase isn’t really about fish, despite this quote being inscribed on various fish t-shirts, fridge magnets, and wall plaques alike.

iceland-seehagel.jpeg

So what is it about, if not fish? Let’s leave it to Urban Dictionary.

gone fishing ;

1. To checkout from reality. To be unaware of what's going on.

2. To drop the duties of daily life and go do something else, something nice.

dark-thirty ;

1. The thirty minutes before nightfall, or the thirty minutes after night falls. Basically the 1-ish hour time frame as it becomes dark.

Going away and returning at an approximate time. We’re doing just that, but without going through the hassle of the tackle box and poles. We’ve gone fishing. Why? Because it just felt right. Does this mean we’ve succumbed to the currently popular "nomad" stereotype, consumed by the modern epidemic “wanderlust”? #insertaudiblesighandeyerollhere

No, I think it’s safe to say we’re not chasing stars based on romantic ideals. But we have been doing a lot of thinking since we got married almost a couple of years ago. Life has happened, and we have evolved, as humans do and should.

We’ve thought about place, in all meanings of the word. Physical place, cognitive place, emotional place, social place, and spiritual place. Place can mean many things. It seems to me that finding a/your/the place is on a sliding scale of importance for all people.

To some, a place is purely physical. It’s a location, a destination, coordinates, a name of a geographical body on a map in which you were born or have been, a building, a home. But it can be more. The depressed man might say “I’m just not in a good place right now”. You may not be able to quite place your finger on an idea. The youngster may feel out of place at a new school. A philanthropist may be driven by seeking their place on earth. Things can fall into and out of place, and so on and so forth.

Place is a location, a state or condition, a connection, a moment in time, an action, a state of mind, a feeling, a ranking, and a destiny. It’s many things, and with importance and characteristics for each individual as varied as our DNA.

If place is more than just a “place”, it seems only natural that some exploration take (place) over time. (Okay that last one wasn’t even on purpose). But really, as humans we are living things. We’re not rocks. We’re fluid and capable of growth, consumption, creation, production, re-production. To not honour that, just seems sad.

Yes, ignorance can be blissful and I enjoy scarfing down a bowl of popcorn during an Adam Sandler flick in the comfort of my home while making plans for the “weekend” just as much as the next person. However, there’s a strong feeling in me that knows there’s more, and that life is not just being born, going to a building where you read, write, and socialize for 12 years and often beyond, get a job, earn currency, cash in your currency for items and experiences that enable survival and pleasure, encounter a mate, get a dog, buy a house, create a kid, raise that kid, cease going to a job, and continuing to provide for yourself with the currency you’ve sensibly stashed and had stashed for you over the years until you inevitably die.

Apologies, but I just don’t believe that’s it. What we've been calling reality or "real-life", maybe just really isn't it. It can't be.

I’m not generally one for holding on to quick quotes, and in all honesty I have no idea of the source and am lacking the recall of where I’d even seen this at the moment, but I came across this (or something along these lines..) awhile ago and could relate; “To never know yourself is the very definition of hell”.

Rebecca Solnit similarly compares this concept to the premise behind most fairy tales. She writes “Enchantment in these stories is the state of being disguised, displaced in an animal’s body or another’s identity. Disenchantment is the blessing of becoming yourself.”

Being stuck and miserable in a state that isn’t your own and that doesn't feel quite right, until the “spell” is broken and you become You either once again or for the first time; that is the sought-after reward in these stories. There are several ways that the various spells are broken and the protagonist is granted to return to their true state which always has a positive connotation. Usually the spell-breaking is achieved through facing some sort of adversity, completion of a tedious or mountainous task, or surviving a long journey of some kind. Perhaps an innate message we’re all trying to share with ourselves.

So what does this all have to do with going fishing without poles until dark o’clock or whatever? Without saying "In order to find yourself you should travel!", I would say it has a lot more to do with noticing and listening to that smart little voice called intuition. Maybe less of a voice, and more similar to this guy. I guess you could say our inner Likitu said "Hey, seems like you’re starting to catch on to this place thing, stop here, and go a different way, you might be interested in what you find." Being children of the 90’s we trusted him.

By “going fishing”, we are given the time and space to “checkout from reality” and be “unaware of what’s going on”. I think that as humans it’s hard to surrender our grasp (or sometimes death grip) on control, after all we have those big gushy things called brains inside our heads that seem to love “problem solving” and steering the ship 99% of the time. But sometimes it’s nice to take the passenger seat, trust is a good thing.

So here we are, Mike recently leaving his 9-5 to let more energy towards his craft, and me following my ever-changing need to ramble and create. We’ve gone away to Iceland and we’ll be back at— let’s just say dark thirty.

New Journey, New Tools by Ginni Seehagel

instagram-plant.jpeg

As some of you know I've been anticipating an upcoming journey for the past six months (just a few days away now!), and am excited to have some new tools to explore and document with.

Enter: the DSLR camera. Scary? Maybe... But I'm definitely looking forward to having a "real camera" of my very own rather than relying on Mike for his equipment and skills, or fumbling around with my i-Phone that likes to shut off when the temperature is too cold...too wet.. or too anything really. I mean, I am a flexible person and like surprises but it's just actually annoying when you're trying to take photos of the most perfect lump of seaweed, and you just can't 'cause...the phone. Right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

Also I'm the type of person that loves learning new things (so many things!). So what better of an opportunity to start learning how to use my new camera than taking it on a three month personal artistic journey to Iceland? (After some preliminary experimentation with my nice plant model in the hallway of our apartment of course).