Through the storm and back again
Inspired by “Soundwaves of Gold” (The Daydream Club)
The north has never been my favourite place to go. No matter if it’s been about where I wanted to live within the borders of my home country or about traveling the world – I’ve always preferred the warm and open-hearted South. But, you know, I’ve fallen in love with the North as well. I’ve fallen in love with the beautiful Scandinavia when my sister decided to move to Denmark some years ago. Well, when your family moves abroad you won’t stay at home expecting them to come back. You take action and get familiar with the new situation, because it’s never an option not to see your loved ones anymore. Consequently, I’ve had to travel to the uncomfortable North more or less on a regular basis and I’ve had to find myself in an airplane a lot (everyone around me knows how much I like flying – not!). Well, but I’ve decided to mess up with my comfort zones and started a new chapter without knowing at this point of life. I remember the weather as one of the first things that left a long-term impression. Oh my God the weather – icy, stormy, quickly changing – and this isn’t even a minimum expression of what the weather in Scandinavia is about. You simply have to experience it by yourself to fully understand it. So, let me tell you a few things I’ve learned in the past nordic years and months…
THE CHANGE OF YESTERDAY MAKES UP WHO I AM TODAY.
As you know from Heavy Heart, this year I faced the challenge of taking opportunities directly. I didn’t want to miss special moments anymore. I didn’t want to feel the regret anymore, just because I wasn’t able to overcome my insecurities. And I’ve changed a lot so far. I’ve conquered my comfort zone of communicating things I don’t like. I’ve taken every opportunity, which has passed my way so far. I’ve started to invest my time and money more into personal development instead of short term pleasure and I’ve learned to listen to others rather than talking by myself. Within this development, I’ve also forced my Mum to leave her comfort zone and finally travel to Iceland with me. It was one of her childhood dreams – well, actually, her one and only childhood dream, triggered by one of these former TV series called Nonni and Manni. However, she never took the step in the past, and that’s why I’ve decided to book an apartment and our flights, to finally make this project happen. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken. You can hardly imagine the beauty of this country.
LIFE ISN’T ABOUT WAITING FOR THE STORM TO PASS, IT’S ABOUT LEARNING TO DANCE IN THE RAIN. (VIVIAN GREENE)
Already at the beginning of our journey I got an impression of what it means to live in Iceland. We stayed at an Airbnb for five days located at the windy South Coast of Reykjavik. Our host Drifa waited for us with a perfectly prepared apartment – cozy and warm, basically the counterpart of what was going on outside. Feeling the squeeze of the storm together with the steadily attending rain can drive you crazy and you are very thankful for a warm and cozy home. However, after a few days I’ve learned the following: In the North there’s no wrong or bad weather, there’s only wrong or bad clothing. End of story. And you can apply this rule to every area of your life. So, even though it’s hard in the beginning, living there is all about adapting and changing the perspective. It’s not about running away from challenges or avoiding uncomfortable things, it’s about making the best out of it. It’s about seeing beauty in the ugliness. Otherwise, while waiting through the day and expecting luck to pass by, chances are that you end up waiting – I did my best, but the rest is fortune’s responsibility…You know what? No it isn’t! When you experience this crazy and quickly changing weather in Iceland you understand the importance and chance of adaptation. I mean, this is exactly what’s happening around us. We’re living in the 21st century. Environments are quickly changing. They’re not waiting for us to be ready. They’re expecting us to be prepared: Prepared for crazy and quick changes, prepared for the bad weather and the bad conditions, the stupid arguments but also the genius ones (which by the way often come along with a thunder storm of rejection), the hurtful comments as well as the lovely ones. But we need to do our homework, to come up with solutions. And homework often means to go outside even when we are afraid, because staying in the safety zone in our era often means to miss great opportunities … or simply the five sunny minutes of the day. We always wait for the perfect moment…to implement new things, finally speak out what’s in our mind, ask for a higher salary, propose to our partner, go out for a run or finally start the acting course. And of course certain health, business or relationship risks speak against certain changes. But the truth is, this one perfect moment is a fairytale. We just have today and we have to make the best out of it or at least start to learn it.
And this is the nice thing about traveling: You always learn something. In this case I’ve realized what it means to interpret given things in many different ways. I’ve built empathy with a new culture and spotted different sides of one scenario. Just think about the following: It’s currently snowing in Germany, cold and grey days await us. We call it “bad weather” or the “dark season”, but funnily the same things’re called “open-air swimming pool time” in Iceland. The thing is icelandic people have no other choice. Our host told us that the kids in school go to the swimming pool during the whole year to learn swimming. If they would wait for the weather to become better or complain about it, they would probably wait for years without any guarentee. What a waste of lifetime, isn’t it? But that’s the point: How often do we complain about our jobs, our partners often even about our beloved kids, but we don’t make the time to really grasp the full scenario. We fail at seeing the good sides of our situations and we fail at building empathy with our fellows…ending up frustrated or waiting for better times to come. And we’re wasting a lot of time by doing so. But try to transfer the weather scenario to your daily life. What you perceive as chaos in your company can mean good structure in another. Thirty degrees celsius can be torture for the runner during a marathon, while relaxation for the tourist at a beach in Bali. When there is one meter of fresh-fallen snow it can mean distress for your the daily ride to the work place or pure pleasure for the snowboarder in the mountains. I think you’re getting the point. In the end – wherever you are located on the scale or how bad your current situation might seem – you need to look for the positive aspects and give yourself a try. Otherwise you probably end up wasting your precious lifetime. Never forget, that life will always provoke you with these little challenges. When you’re done with one, the next one is already waiting for you. It’s about getting used to it and appreciating the good things that come along with the rest periods. It’s about refueling and preparing well for the next more challenging hassles and obstacles as well as about living in and appreciating the moment. It’s simply about learning to dance in the rain. And when you’ve learned to do so, a whole new world opens the doors…
IN THE DEPTH OF WINTER I FINALLY LEARNED THAT THERE WAS IN ME AN INVINCIBLE SUMMER“ (ALBERT CAMUS)
A few days before our trip a weather warning was released, but since we had limited time and already booked the tour, cancellation was no option. You know, in the end it’s like with everything in life – when there are no other options left, you have to leave your comfort zone. When it comes to bad weather, my comfort zone is really small, due to a surgery in the past. Therefore, to stay painfree, strict avoidance of cold, rainy or stormy weather is mandatory. Jackpot! Now in Iceland I’ve had all of these things – at once! So – to be honest – I was really afraid of doing this tour. But as I’ve said, it’s all about preparation and making peace with your ego. You don’t need to look good or follow a certain style, all you need is to stay dry and warm. So, my dearest fellows, take your wellies and raincoats and you’ll directly remember this warm feeling of your childhood days, when you’ve been totally excited about playing in a huge puddle of mud. And just by preparing well you’ll directly start to feel comfortable with the situation. It’s all about the perspective and the pure will to see the positive & sunny sides of the things you can’t change.
SHELTER FROM THE STORM
And do you know what? This is the secret of discovering the sunny sides. This is what makes Iceland (and Scandinavia in general) so fascinating. It’s not only about the landscape but moreover about the people, their mindset and what you can learn from them. The circumstances made them so so relaxed and open-hearted – actually the counterpart of what I had expected. They know how to be thankful for the simple things – the hot geothermal shower after an exhausting dark and stormy day and for the cozy sheep wool blanket while holding a hot cup of tea or a piece of icelandic chocolate in your hands. Imagine you’re just entering your home after an exhausting and bitterly cold day and your cozy and warm home awaits you. Invaluable! While you’ve spent your day pitting your body against the storm and trying to ignore your icy feet, you’re now leaving all these things behind; Finally finding shelter, while being aware of the fact that at a point you have no other chance than leaving the house again.
However, in these minutes of coziness the thoughts start to bubble around and together with all the fairytales about trolls and elves your brain does crazy things with you. I mean there is a reason why they call Iceland the country of authors. You know, it’s not only fairytales, people in Iceland are really believing in these mythical creatures. They even build their streets around several stones, because they believe the elves live there and that they need to be protected. Call me crazy, but you can feel this magic all over the country. Creativity and fantasy but more important true life are existing there. If you feel like taking a trip to a country that can teach you all these things or just ground yourself, then it’s Iceland.