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Posts tagged “canon

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


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Aerial view of Greenland


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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.

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Symphony of Infinitude- Aurora Borealis

Nothing more wonderfully beautiful can exist than the arctic night. It is a dreamland, painted in the imagination’s most delicate tints; it’s colour etherealised. One shade melts into the other, so that you cannot tell where one shade ends and the other begins, and yet they are all there. No forms- it is all faint, dreamy colour music, a far away, long-drawn-out melody on muted strings. Is not all life’s beauty high, and delicate, and pure like this night?

Fridtjof Nansen, Farthest North

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Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the arctic night is the northern lights, the great Aurora Borealis. Described by the great arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen as “harp music, wildly storming in the darkness.. and again, at times, it is like soft-playing, gently-rocking, silvery waves, on which dreams travel into unknown worlds” the glory of the aurora never fails to inspire awe, emotion, deep thoughts and deeper questions. Captain Robert Falcon Scott echoed this thought in his journal-

There is infinite suggestion in this phenomenon, and in that lies its charm; the suggestion of life, form, colour, and movement never less than evanescent, mysterious, -no reality. (Scott’s Last Expedition)

We were leaving the airport with a man who told us he had grown up in Minnesota and watched the northern lights as a child. Then, as if to sum up all his conclusions on the matter, he said, “makes you realize we’re not alone out there” making quite plain that he was referring to God. That is what the aurora does, plucks the chords of human spirituality within each of us in a way that one cannot easily escape from.

aurora 1

aurora 2

Under the inspiration of the aurora’s “glittering cloak” Fridtjof Nansen wrote-

I have never been able to grasp the fact that this earth will someday be spent and desolate and empty. To what end, in that case, all this beauty, with not a creature to rejoice in it?

Had he been a Bible reader he no doubt would have taken comfort in the fact recorded at Isaiah 45:18 that the earth was created, not for nothing, but to be inhabited. Or Psalm 37:29 that says that “the righteous will posses the earth, and live forever upon it.” No, the earth and it’s beauty will not be spent, it will not become desolate nor empty. The earth is our inheritance and it’s creature will rejoice in it forever. If you haven’t come to know this from the book of scriptures this fact will be imparted to you through the book of creation like it was for Nansen.

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I put the rest of my pictures of Aurora Borealis here, on their very own page.


Snowflake

Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes – every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man.” Orison Swett Marden

Snowflakes


Eternal Summer

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.  Celia Thaxter

People liken the heart to many things-

An open book.

A fortress.

A lion.

A stereo.

An ocean. Inside of a bigger ocean.

I don’t think my heart is any of those things. I think its more like a greenhouse. A greenhouse with a carefully curated collection of curiosities. Because that’s the thing about life, a lot of things happen, a lot of things surround us, and a lot of things pass by us but only the things that we allow can pass through us and we carry with us only what we choose. Whatever plant you want can grow in a greenhouse despite the atmospheric and geologic conditions of the area. Whoever we want to become can grow in our heart. Whatever we want to love can live in our heart. We set the conditions. In a greenhouse there is summer in the depths of winter, in our hearts hope in the depths of desolation.

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”  Albert Camus, The Stranger

A greenhouse promotes growth and fills itself with life. Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all things that you guard, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” If you don’t like something that has taken root in there, remove it. You don’t have to let it stay just because its always been there or because its in everyone else’s. Bring in what you value. Your life is either your problem or your blessing but either way it’s up to you. Choose to make positive growth. Plant gratefulness to have that eternal summer within you. Keep bringing in love to nourish your treasures. Its a continuous work and a continuous pleasure. The outside world whispers “If I just had ____ my life would be complete.” But what is a complete life? Everyday adds something new, each morning light brings fresh opportunity, everyone you meet is a brand new world. Why would you desire your life to come to completion? Complete is a beginning, middle, and end; and yet my heart preserves me. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says of the creator, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has even put eternity in their heart; yet mankind will never find out the work that the true God has make from start to finish.” Human life was created to be indefinite, human hearts reach out for eternity. And even after all the time in the world we will still never know all there is and never experience all that can be. Our purpose is growth, my heart is fertile.

stones

metallic

berry

poky

vibrance

orchid

beads

soft

crystal eye


Winter is Coming

Spring roses bow their heads to death

drooping

Leaves dry up and return to the earth

decay

Autumn is the massacre

a colorful array of dwindling life

like and army cutting a way for winter

season of frozen hearts

silence.

 

leaves

sisters

Rosebud

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Droplets

rose

pinkrose

leaves

Rosebud


Standing Too Close

Great minds are related to the brief span of time during which they live as great buildings are to a little square in which they stand: you cannot see them in all their magnitude because you are standing too close to them.

Arthur Schopenhauer

I decided that I’m tired of standing too close to stuff and not really looking at it. Sometimes I think that the bigger something is, the less noticeable it is. Like the other day I was at the grocery store Sprouts and I bought some toothpaste or something and the person ringing it up put in some special code for our extra 25% off and we were like “What’s that for?” and they said they were having all their health and beauty stuff on sale, and then I looked over and saw a gigantic banner hanging over the entire section of the store that said extra 25% off in huge letters. It was like the most obvious thing in the store but none of us saw it.

So I’m going in all the places that I see but don’t think about because there’s got to be something important in there or they wouldn’t have bothered to build, right? Right. Same goes for people too, if each individual wasn’t important then why would they be here? We might not live long enough to truly appreciate someone but it’s the kind of project that is best just to go ahead start on even if it goes unfinished. We should never be so close to someone that we can’t appreciate them fully.

Some pictures of places and their squares-

doorway

grayscale

linear

reflect

ivy

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containers

phone booth

skylight

bars

row


Fort Collins Water Works

The Fort Collins Water Works was built in the early 1880s as a new way to deliver water into the town. It originally had metal shingles but they were replaced when the roof got redone in the 1990s, so does that mean that the roof lasted over a hundred years? Because we should all do metal shingles if that is the case. We should all do a picnic too, that’s what it makes me think because its in a real old, pretty spot in Laporte that just screams bike rides and picnics, which are always good things to do no matter where you choose to do them at. I would suggest some crusty french loaves, an assortment of cheeses and spreads, and a red wine. Maybe you could tour Ten Bears Winery in Laporte, I’ve never been there but local wine is usually a good idea. You should make little apple hand pies for picnics which is just a lovely idea because the waterworks has an “ancient apple orchard” so you’d fit with the theme. I thought of it because I saw this article on NPR (including a recipe) the other day and I never forget anything I read about food because, well, why would I? Food is delicious.

If you were hoping to read more about the actual waterworks here is their website. It is a pretty interesting place even if you are not that interested in water and really just like to look at old, crumbly stuff.

Waterworks

brick

roof

cavatie

illuminated

Grounds

pillars

skull

pepsi


The Wonders that Exist Inside

One who not merely beholds the outward shows of things, but catches a glimpse of the soul that looks out of them, whose garment and revelation they are- if he be such, I say, he will stand, for more than a moment, speechless with something akin to that which made the morning stars sing together. – George MacDonald

We’ve heard the saying “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover” and decided that it means that ugly people can be nice and just because someone is pretty doesn’t mean they’re a decent person. I don’t like that. Sometimes ugly people are just ugly people through and through and sometime pretty people are lovely on the inside too. But that’s not why I don’t like it, I don’t like it because it’s so shallow. The idea that people are either ugly or beautiful, good or bad, nice or mean, smart or dumb, and that is what we should look for in a person. Instead of judging whether a person is nice or mean, good or bad, why can’t we simply look to observe what is there? Can’t something be beautiful on the outside and complex on the inside? Why don’t we look for the glory, the mystery, the wonderful, the unseen? Why do we take what makes up a man, a man created by God out of the building blocks of the universe, and dumb it down into simply good or simply bad?

George Eliot said, “Adventure is not outside a man, it is within.” Where is our sense of adventure? Don’t we all want to experience awe, to be struck by something too wonderful for us? In the quote above MacDonald is referencing Job 38:7 where the morning stars (or the angels) cry out joyfully together and shout in applause upon seeing the Earth which Jehovah has just finished making. Imagine seeing our planet for the first time when nothing like it has ever existed before. It is glorious enough to us in our narrow view of it and yet it is suggested that we may have the same sense of joy and applause, excitement and wonder that the angels felt when we search deep inside another and examine what they are made of. Many of us wish to explore the world, but we are surrounded by hundreds of worlds living and breathing and swirling around us everyday, we should explore those.

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.  Eden Phillpotts

All of nature, including us, exists below the surface; the surface of the ground, the surface of our skin, the surface of our perception. These photos are a small sampling of the “savage and beautiful country” that lies in between the mysterious (Diane Ackerman).

A big blue box on the outside, when you open the little window door just a crack bright yellow light comes streaming out. It's full of high intensity sodium light that you're not allow to look at lest it burn your retinas out. I assume.

A big, blue box on the outside, when you open the little viewing door just a crack bright, yellow light comes streaming out. It’s full of high intensity sodium light that you’re not allow to look at lest it burn your retinas out. I assume.

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Pink

The brilliant pink flower that erupts from the center of the previously pictured cactus. It feels fake like plastic and the spikes don’t poke you.

Eye

Purple petals on an aphid infected flower look out like an eye deciding whether it is safe to bloom.

 

These plants produce a fruit that it only ripe for eating for small window of time before it become s full of acid and toxic to humans.

These plants produce a fruit that it only ripe for eating for small window of time before it become s full of acid and toxic to humans.

An ornamental fig. Not much smaller larger than a pea these small fruits have a teeny whole in the top through which a female wasp enters and lays her eggs. Next a male wasp enters and fertilizes the eggs. When the baby wasps are born they trample around in the pollen before leaving to lay their eggs inside of another tiny fruit, carrying the pollen with them. There was already a wasp in this particular fruit, can you see it?

An ornamental fig. Not much smaller larger than a pea these small fruits have a teeny whole in the top through which a female wasp enters and lays her eggs. Next a male wasp enters and fertilizes the eggs. When the baby wasps are born they trample around in the pollen before leaving to lay their eggs inside of another tiny fruit, carrying the pollen with them. There was already a wasp in this particular fruit, can you see it?

These little flowers are special because they contain a lost memory from my childhood. Years ago my grandparent owned the Monte Claire Motel and there was one of these plants in the lobby. The flowers are smooth and plasticy and they leak a sweet, sugary liquid like little tears.

These little flowers are special because they contain a lost memory from my childhood. Years ago my grandparent owned the Monte Claire Motel and there was one of these plants in the lobby. The flowers are smooth and plasticy and they leak a sweet, sugary liquid like little tears.


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

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Ladybug

Infected

Sorghum

Hanging Planters