07 February 2009

it's not what you think

So yes, I have not been writing much lately, and here's why:
  • When every trip to the store is a reminder of the kreppa as the prices of everything have gone up here by 40isk, there by 200isk, I don't really want to spend more time writing about the experience here.
  • I listen to it on the radio in the car, at work when my coworkers argue about who should do what next over lunch. Again, do I really want to spend more time thinking about it here?
  • The significant themes which are occupying my head lately aren't the sort of thing I share with partially unknown audiences on the internet.
  • There are many others who're covering the governmental and economic details far better than I could ever aspire to.
  • And also partly because from the daily-basis perspective, it's not like a "collapsing" government creates some kind of visible effect. There were no citywide riots, no mass walkouts of offices, no burning cars.
I've been listening to reports from the US regularly, reading the American news, and talking with my family there, and it doesn't really seem like it's a whole lot better there either. I know people who're being downsized in both places, I know people who're uncertain about what the future will bring in both places, people who've lost breathtaking amounts of money from pension funds and 401k's. So, why not stay here where at least the air is clear, where the northern lights finally made an appearance after so many months of black skies? As long as I'm fortunate enough to be employed, warmly housed, and fed, Iceland seems as good as any other place.
So there it is. I like to write about the things here that still make me happy, in spite of the cold weather we've had lately. It's the time of year when the sun's finally high enough to stream into my top-floor home, a time when the sunrises are heartbreakingly beautiful every morning, when my sunset run around Seltjarnarnes takes my breath away, so incandescent is the sea with turquoise glory.
November to January this far north can feel like the worst punishment ever, but the reward is that when the sun comes back and the days are finally long enough to use the light, it's one of the most uplifting experiences I can imagine. It's been rather brutally cold (for Iceland, which means -10c) lately, but the advantage is that it comes with clear air that feels extra-saturated with oxygen. Every day I am lost in the wonder of light as the fuschia clouds mark the sunrise, then Snæfellsnes glows pinkly from my office, then Esja catches that afternoon gold, and then as evening falls the sky goes lavender. I know I talk about it ALL the time here, but for me it's what makes this place so unforgettable, that the magical glow can be yours to witness so frequently, rather than the occasional exceptional moment as a 10 minute treat for only the earliest of risers.
And so in conclusion, despite all the emails I have been getting recently wanting the juicy details on just how collapsed it is here, I am going to write about light or how great it is that I can find a muffin tin to borrow in under 4 hours, lent to me by someone I've only met once in my life. There are still plenty of things to be happy about, even if they don't seem like really significant parts of your day. I still think that if you can't find any joy in those free delights all around you, you're looking in the wrong places for happiness.

13 comments:

Professor Batty said...

I've always enjoyed your reflections on life in Iceland and abroad. They revive wonderful feelings I've had when been there- the subtle things of everyday life that don't get covered much in other media. Your blog is what it is, and that's quite fine with me.

sv koho said...

Iceland will default on it's debt as will Zimbabwe, but life will go on. France defaulted on its debt 8 times from 1500 to 1800 and Spain defaulted
7 times in the 19th century alone. I suspect the people with a positive attitude who could smell the flowers and notice spectacular sunrises got along just fine. It appears that Icelanders are coping pretty well while Americans don't even know what is about to hit them. The sunset behind the Grand Tetons right now is jaw dropping. Cheers.

Food, she thought. said...

as usual, well said. I appreciate the sentiment, especially because things are a bit scary in my own house.

Bevans said...

How is the morale in Iceland with the economy the way it is?

Jason Dusek said...

On the one hand, Iceland has hit a real rough patch; on the other, they were able to oust the people responsible. That is something we won't ever see in the United States.

tsduff said...

Thanks for your uplifting words in dark times. I agree with your reasons for not posting recently - as I read today the plight of the writer at the Icelandic Review who is to lose his job at the end of the month and in fact lose his standing as a foreigner living in Iceland, I was appalled, and worried about you. Even as I just now watched a report on the BBC news about the financial collapse of Iceland and its families, I reveled in the scenery flashing across my tv screen - of clouds and mountains, sea and lava; and all the joy I feel at seeing the amazing beauty remains strong. We just spent a week in Florida, visiting with my Bjarni's Mama and Aunt (who is visiting from Iceland). They spoiled us with pennukokur and hangikjot with white sauce & peas... & smoked salmon on flatbread - among other delights. I wish you well, and long for the sweet view you have from your home (I know it well). I hope you weather this storm of unnatural creation, manage to keep your job intact as well as your residential status. I lost my job here in the US on Sept 11 (nice day to get laid off, eh?.) I have not found employment yet - though I look non-stop every day. Peace

Paul said...

start a new blog. Usually works for me :-)

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

Iceland will bounce back I'm sure. They have overspent but at least they have invested in education. Young Icelandic people will now have a combination of good education together with a strong determination. Many of today's entrepeneur millionaires have been touched by poverty in their early life.

Slartibartfast said...

Great blog! Ran across it while reading up for an adventure in a few months ( ian-visits-nord.blogspot.com ). Your writing is great, and I've really enjoyed the down to Earth perspective. Thanks!

poulin said...

Where are you...miss your insight

Hope all is well

9uy said...

Hi, I was happy to find your blog and to read your Icelandic experiences.

Take care, Guy

Dawn said...

Your readers would love to have an update!!! Best!