A sanctuary for creative writing and imagery

Posts tagged “appreciation

þetta réddast

While enjoying a ridiculous amount of smoked trout at Vogafjós (literally “Creek Cowshed”; a restaurant on the eastern shore of Lake Myvatn that is actually inside a cowshed with the cows) I first heard the Icelandic phrase þetta réddast. More of a mentality or life philosophy than a saying, there are many different English language interpretations. I was told at the time that it was “We will get there.” Most people translate it as “Don’t worry. It will all work out okay.” It is a common phrase that is applied casually. Running late? þetta réddast. Not prepared? þetta réddast. And while it is best to keep a positive attitude and not worry about things that it is too late to fix I feel like this undersells the wisdom of the phrase to Americans who are driven by success and define success as hard work + precision. It comes across like ((*oh horror*)) they’re not even trying!

That is why I liked the way my guide, Gunnar, defined it- We will get there. Like, eventually, everything will work it’s way out. Because that is true and that is what people so often lose sight of. A life philosophy is not an excuse you keep using because you are chronically incapable, so that is not what is meant when they say this. A life philosophy is something that is applied to life. Not just your life, all life. As long as there has been life and as long as life continues. It is a very broad and very high. It is elevated thinking. It is “the big picture.” And while it is not just your life, it certainly includes and is reflected in your life. There is a point on the universal time scale where everything bad is brought to nothing (Christians call this “Armageddon”)  and only good can flourish (“judgement day”). It is not right now. We will get there. The problems of today are so short they hardly factor in but if you base your happiness on short term goals you will always be worrying. It is true that life is what you make it, but that does not mean that you are in control of your life, that it is something to fret over and fine tune. We can’t completely control everything. Time and circumstances have an ever changing tide. Happiness isn’t something we can get completely by our own effort- its not money, its not pleasures, its not a job well done. Happiness is having hope.

The knowledge that everything will work out brings a small measure of freedom. Freedom to make mistakes. Freedom to be too generous. Freedom to love people just because they need it. Freedom to live consciously in every moment instead of thinking about the things you have to get done. Freedom to be optimistic. Freedom to have a great time even if times aren’t so great. Freedom to see beyond your suffering.

When you can see the whole picture you have a clear view. Don’t cloud your life with the worry that comes from uncertainty. Seek truth. þetta réddast.

Aerial view of interior Iceland via flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri


IMG_8483 IMG_8488

Aerial view of Greenland


IMG_8870 IMG_8880 IMG_8893 IMG_8898


Silent Reflections

Essay from a photo writing prompt by Harpa and the Icelandic Writers Retreat. View the photo and read other essays here.

Stepping softly
from the sidewalk across the breadth to the back,
the wood floor holds the reticent reverberations of yesterdays music while outside
ancient,
gray
ripples
meet basalt blocks unheard.
Arctic sunlight collects on the comb of windows encasing the space
until dissected by one large looking glass
set forth between beams
outstretched,
framing the North Atlantic like victorious arms.
Symmetry.
Safflower skies reflecting on silica and seawater.
A mirrored plane plunges toward water, reflecting the harbor in its face.

Reflection-
a bending back-
Middle English.
Harpa holds the heritage of the people and houses the spirit of a culture,
the compilation of all time, hundreds of years, magmatic, covering and building on each other to create each present. Yet each concert is but a
breaker
in the waters of time, while in
every
singular
moment
its structure stands it publishes Iceland’s biography;
its framework arranged to feature and flaunt the landscape of the sea.
The islands human history was born here,
is here,
as ancestral waves go out
and come again,
retreating
only to bend back
carrying the voices of vikings,
the trill of fishing vessels,
the whisper of sagas,
the echoes of centuries,
like a low, soothing sound barely beneath our perception.

We stand in a building just to the left of a dreamboat silhouette-
but is it left?
The hand we choose depends on whence we came.
We enter from the city
but from where did we enter the city?
We stand in a building just to the right of a dreamboat silhouette,
between the Sun Voyager and its golden destination, the journey shining through panels of glittering glass.
Having stepped softly from the sidewalk we crossed the breadth to reach the front.
The front-
sitting on the threshold of an ocean gazing through the glass for its children,
taciturn,
listening,
reflecting.
I gaze back in silent reverie,
listening,
reflecting,
overlooking half the fatherland.


My favorite photos from the capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland featuring Harpa Concert Hall, the Sun Voyager, and the North Atlantic Ocean.

IMG_8466 IMG_8456 IMG_8450 IMG_8443 copy IMG_8460


I Like to Watch Things Grow

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, we are happy when we are growing.

William Butler Yeats

Happiness is not something you find and then have nor something that comes from making the best of what is in front of you. True happiness comes from constantly growing- growing spiritually, growing emotionally, growing mentally, and, most importantly, growing in appreciation. If you are not growing than you are fooling yourself in thinking that anything you do is worthwhile. Make everyday an adventure, an exploration. Every day. Not just the one’s were you’re not already busy working. Surround yourself with growth. There’s a saying “How can you except to live a positive life if you surround yourself with negative people?” Who brings you places you’ve never been? Who talks about the deep things of God? Who asks you questions about yourself? Who makes you think about things in a different way? The word “who” here being used in reference to everything around you but certainly including the people your spend your time with. Surround yourself with growing things, things that are changing themselves always into something better. Never say this is how I am, never accept your personality as it is or your preferences as they are. In that way happiness springs from humility as one has to accept that the way they are is not the way they should still be tomorrow or ever again. Stop seeking comfort and consistency, it goes against nature. Surround yourself with nature and you will find the comfort you need without having to seek it or make it, you can not force happiness.

I love to explore, I love to go different places that I’ve never seen and if there’s a building I want to know what’s inside. I’ve decided I should just find out, it seems like you’re not allowed to but if there isn’t a sign I don’t see why not so I’ve decided to go in and have a look. If anyone asks me why I’m there I will simply ask them if they’ve read The Phantom Tollbooth. I like the idea of being around plants, they are quiet and lovely and helpful. I’ve always like the idea of a greenhouse, were plants grow inside in tidy rows all separated like so you know what is what. I’ve always had this fantasy of being in a greenhouse, not with a bunch of people like when you’re try to buy tomatoes at a nursery some weekend at the beginning of gardening season, just being in there existing and stuff. Probably stems from my love of this movie, one of my top 5, I don’t have a favorite because I’m afraid to commit and I always keep the 5th spot open so I can rotate films in and out as it fits my whims-

A film depicting lives that I both identify with and aspire to. But to be able to be in a greenhouse and breathe, how wonderful.

And now I know from experience that it is every bit as lovely as I imagined it would be. I have an amazing friend, one of those good ones as described above, who works in a greenhouse and invited me to come see it. I took 68 pictures that I loved so It’s been quite difficult narrowing them down, here are some that represent nothing more than the simple feeling of being there-

Orchid

IMG_6231

IMG_6243

Ladybug

Infected

Sorghum

Hanging Planters


Lily Lake at Night

The lakes are something which you are unprepared for; they lie up so high, exposed to the light, and the forest is diminished to a fine fringe on their edges, with here and there a blue mountain, like amethyst jewels set around some jewel of the first water, – so anterior, so superior, to all the changes that are to take place on their shores, even now civil and refined, and fair as they can ever be.  -Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau, I decided, is my friend because he was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s friend and that guy is my bestie so a friend of a friend is my friend too. Emerson wrote that the sky is the eyes daily bread and truly, everyday when I look outside I remember this because there is something amazing up there every time. The night sky is especially dear to me. Psalm 19:1 says “The heaven are declaring the glory of God; and the work of his hands the expanse is telling.” I think it is amazing that no matter where you live or how much money you have or how smart you are you can look at the night sky with appreciation; even if you have nothing, the sky is there for you every day. It is so big, and yet not empty. It is full of activity and energy that makes you realize that what you are dealing with is insignificant, yet you are not. When you take the time to look around you can easily see that our universe was designed as a perfect place for humans, there are so many things built in to help us deal with and enrich our lives like the sky for calmness, helping us to see the bigger picture and giving us a glimpse of unimaginable glory, or lakes for clear thinking and introspection.

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.  It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.  -Henry David Thoreau

My goal is to take more time to fully appreciate the area that I live. Since I see it everyday it can be passed over and taken for granted a little bit and I don’t want to be like that. This is explained more thoroughly in the ‘about’ section if you haven’t read that and are at all interested.

My friend Nikita Van Putten had the great idea of driving up to a lake in Rocky Mountain National Park to photograph the super moon last saturday. I never really figured out how to get a good picture of the moon so don’t get your hopes up. I did however take these of Lily Lake. It was really cold and windy, but also amazing. We were the only ones out there (perhaps because we weren’t supposed to be?) in the very dark. This was my first time doing long exposures and night photography. The first picture is my favorite of the night, and also the very first one I took.ImageImageImage