“Quiet people have the loudest minds,” wrote Stephen Hawking. He was right. Or, better still, he is right. He certainly would be right, if he were talking about me. So where do quiet people with loud minds go to to find peace of mind? Yours truly goes to the silent shores of Iceland.
In the summer of 2005, I set foot on the black sands of Iceland for the very first time. A step that changed my life significantly. I fell madly, deeply and truly in love with Iceland. Tranquillity of mind is something I can only achieve in Iceland. There are places on that lovely isle completely void of people, where the only living being crossing your path is the odd trio of sheep or a flock of birds flying overhead. To say I love it there would be an understatement. Only superlatives are applicable to Iceland, how it makes me feel and what it is like.
To celebrate “our” 10th anniversary, as a gift to myself for my 35th birthday, and, because more than ever I needed to get an energy-boost and some peace of mind, … I decided to book a trip to Iceland. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Only a fortnight from my departure to Iceland, I was struck down by the wonderful duo stomach flu and severe gastritis. What little energy I had left was sucked dry by work (both at home and at work). I looked forward to my 7th trip to Iceland as I set off once more to its tranquil black shores. Little did I know that I would be overwhelmed in quite an unexpected way.
What overwhelmed me during this visit were the hoards of tourists that crowded Iceland’s most famous landmarks … And what aggravated me especially was the lack of common sense among them: ignoring warning signs, not staying on designated paths, and so on. Boy, was I more than happy to leave those behind me and find the more secluded and quiet spots across the land, like the beach in the photograph above.
What shocked me even more was the news that reached me on Tuesday morning, 22nd of March, from my motherland Belgium … Brussels Airport and the metro in our capital were bombed. I was worried about family and friends who live and work in Brussels and wasn’t at ease until late in the evening that same day when I knew every loved-one was safe and sound. But … could I find back my safe, comfortable and quiet spot in Iceland?
I could … And, I can’t really explain how Iceland does that to me. All I know is that it is due to a symbiosis of little unique details. Just take a look at all those vibrant colours in the soil and the vegetation. The trees are small in Iceland. So are all the other plants. Even the horse are smaller. And yet, size doesn’t matter at all. What all these elements lack in size, they more than make up for in character. I can understand why Auðr felt at home here. How she must have felt at ease and safe there all those centuries before me. Even when Iceland looked different from what it looks like now.
I was happy to return home to my loved-ones. I am happy to be able to hug them and see them alive and well. Mostly, I’m pleased to discover that even though Iceland has changed a bit during the last couple of years, it is still a contemplative place to me.
P.S.: Dala Auður in the title of this blog refers not only to Auður djúpúðga, but is also the name of an Icelandic cheese named after Auður who resided in the Dales.