Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I have been writing short essays (if you can call them essays) concerning some of the things that I've experienced and the thoughts that have been prominent in my head. I thought it might be good to share some of these thoughts. Here are a few excerpts from a few of these writings. It is obvious that they were written in the wake of their contents, as many of the ideas welcome debate. Nonetheless, they are simply accounts of some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind and have fueled aspects of my practice to this point.

From Balance and Beauty:

One of the predominant reasons that I chose to come to Iceland was the way Icelandic society interacts with its unique landscape. The Icelandic people use the geothermal heat that the earth has provided them to heat their homes, while using all the glacier rivers as a source for renewable hydropower. It was my initial thought that this wonderful little island was such a giver, providing its inhabitants with all that they need to live a renewable and potentially carbon free lifestyle.

It was on one of many ten minute walks home from the bus stop in Reykjavik that I realized my naivety. It was an unusually cold September night and although I was on the outskirts of the city, it was very dark. Rain was pouring down viciously. To be more precise, it was pouring sideways viciously. How it ever actually reached the ground was a mystery to me. Of course, accompanying this rain, and giving it its unusual trajectory, as well as a little extra sting when it hit the face, was a wild wind. The ten minute walk became somewhat of a journey. I longed for my flat that stood in the dark a few hundred meters away. While crookedly walking like an unapologetic alcoholic at a strange seventy degree angle thanks to the unwelcome aid of the wind, with half of my body soaked to the bone, I realized that this land does not only provide its inhabitants with resources, but it provides them also with obstacles.

Here I was, once again, realizing that every rose has a thorn, feeling like a child that just came to the realization that without death, there can be no life, and if there wasn’t asparagus, there couldn’t be ice cream. I feel like this occurrence happens all the time. And I am always surprised when it does...

...There is undoubtedly a comfort zone that plays into this as well. Knowing that my personal welfare does not rely on my direct interaction with the land, allows me to look at the land as an outsider and therefore appreciate the beauty in it.

From Human Space and the Human Condition:

The second I step off the path, my body and mindset change. I am no longer a human driving on a road or a person inside my home. I am an animal hiking around, experiencing my surroundings. I enjoy it, but I am not entirely comfortable...

...I had left designated human space; space where my path is always laid out in front of me with sidewalks, traffic lights, fences, handrails, or even stakes in the ground marking hiking trails. There were no longer signs assuring me that I belonged there; signs reminding me that others had been there and that it was safe...

...The potential intensity of the weather can turn human space into a kind of natural space, a natural space that we have merely built things on. Bad weather is nature’s way of reclaiming human space...

...This discussion also lends itself to a more personal topic; the way I spend my time during this grant period. Whenever I am in human space, particularly inside, I feel pressed to be ‘productive’. I get anxious and feel as though I am not accomplishing anything. However, whenever I am ‘in the nature,’ this pressure is entirely relieved. Perhaps existing within human space comes with a feeling of pressure to contribute to that space.

From Progress and Damage:

…A few sets of faint footprints in the snow, showed the way, when we were unsure of where the path was headed. The small river we occasionally walked along was getting warmer and eventually we saw steam up ahead. As we approached the steamy field we saw pools of bubbly water, some murky and uninviting, while others were a nice calm blue color, more inviting both in appearance and temperature...We were surprised to find that the rocky areas that appeared to be places to sit were nothing more than clumps of strange colored mud. As we tried to find comfortable positions in which to sit, we broke off pieces of earth and put deep footprints in the ground surrounding the pool as we walked around it surveying it for potential spots to rest. In addition to this destruction, the pool quickly turned a murky brownish purple as we stirred within it and I could not help but feel that I was destroying something and single handedly adding to the already staggering damage that humans have done to our planet. This seemingly natural concern, however, stirred an immediate debate in my mind.

For thousands of years, humans have developed technologies to make our lives easier and more entertaining. As a result of this progression, we have caused much damage to the earth on which we live. Now, people are constantly talking about living lives that are more eco friendly...A feeling of guilt comes along with this mindset. The type of guilt that makes me feel awful about interfering with a natural hot spring and makes me feel that I am adding to the problem. But within the term ‘natural hot spring’ lies an inherit problem. The fact that we see such wonder in an occurrence for being natural and the fact that I have been programmed to feel bad about disturbing them implies that we no longer view ourselves as natural. We have ‘progressed’ to the point where such things are other worldly. The desire to explore unique spaces, such as these hot springs, is entirely natural.Exploring a hot spring and ‘disturbing’ it is much more at the core and simplicity of human life than creating solar energy and wind turbines. Yet, I feel guilty about one and greatly support the other...

...We are doing our part if our children are playing on playgrounds built of recycled materials, but we are only adding to our destruction if they run around disturbing things that are natural and beautiful?

From Open Spaces:

…Firstly, the term openness itself gives an example as to what happens in the human mind as a result of its existence. Imagination. Open for interpretation. Icelandic culture is loaded with folklore including elves, trolls, and dozens of other creatures that exist outside of the human eye. Outside of human space...

...This space seems to be a reminder of a few key things; firstly, the size of the world and the insignificance of each individual and secondly, the difficulties of surviving in harsh environments and the necessity of closeness.

From The Purpose of the Pointless:

...A random encyclopedia of the unrecorded subconscious of humanity, belonging to people of all walks of life, unifying us, separating us, making us all stupid and making us all smart. In the same way that this explanation is ridiculous, our options are endless. That’s all.