It’s impossible to forget Iceland is an island. Being an island is Iceland’s whole brand. On the road, the mountain’s always on one hand and the sea’s on the other. My 3rd time there and I’m still newly shocked by how hot and unfashionable the women are. At the store, I see the grocery workers lined up at their registers, and I think, “Why are you goddesses swiping my bread alongside this pimply teenage boy?” I wonder how Diego’s confidence that Icelandic men would hit on me could possibly be true when their women look like this (he said they’re hungry for genetic diversity, which I do offer). Looking at a post I’d written about Iceland from my first visit in 2012, I still agree with it completely and am reliving the same impressions about everything from the people to the animals- funny how consistent and predictable my reactions are. I love the white geese posing with their wings cupping the wind, the fluffy ponies tossing their feathered feet, the bold duck with mud on its beak looking up at us expectantly outside the grocery store, waiting for crumbs. And there’s the endless wind- moving, moving, wind endlessly moving your hair and touching your face and hands.
The fact that a country of essentially 300,000 fishermen sells cake for $10 a slice and ice cream for $5 a cup is evidence no one understands macroeconomics. However, it’s true that when the girl handed me a spoon of licorice ice cream which I thought was going to be a terrible flavor, after one taste I immediately exclaimed, “This is amazing.” Maybe this is good for my ego, this surprise in the dairy farm. We had amazing cake outside the hot springs- another surprise. I told the baker lady she was gifted. I love how Gemma and I are always on the same wavelength on what and when to eat.
Traveling is fun because something always comes up and it helps me appreciate the kindness of others. In Beijing, I was fantasizing about coming home after 3 days until my friend selflessly let me use his company VPN and helped me with my SIM card. In Iceland Judy gave me cough drops and made me tea, Gemma gave me socks, Yinmeng gave me her coat. I also didn’t pack warm enough clothes and everyone keeps offering me jackets. Sometimes I feel so isolated, I want to leave, but all I have to do is reach out.
Given there are no bugs or danger other than geological wonders, I think the main risks to me in Iceland are squandering my time listening to audiobooks instead of paying attention to friends. I have trouble focusing and staying present. On this trip, I want to focus on asking questions and laughing together because otherwise I’ll focus on my own world which is the opposite of what I should be doing. I can need help relaxing because a day into many trips I’m wondering how inconvenient it’d be to go home early. My friends on this trip are a good influence in terms of how agreeable and easygoing they are. Finance friends make me think about money, which can be good at times but also obnoxious. But MIT friends are always so curious, open, and kind.
A week before Iceland, the newness and bigness of Beijing made me focus on my own goals and forget others matter, which I’ve learned is bad for my soul. I hope one day my soul doesn’t rely on anything and is simply itself. For now, the people and environment around me affect me, which is why I’m lucky to be here.
I petted a calf that leaned heavily into my arm to scrape its surprisingly soft neck, so my animal goals were quickly sated. There are no native bugs or trees to iceland. It seems sad to contaminate a land w non-native species but at the same time what are you going to do? It can’t be isolated forever. Everything is at some point a foreign invasive species. It’s futile to keep things pure and it’s impossible to stay an island. Even Siddhartha eventually learned about death (and abandoned his whole family (doesn’t anyone think that’s messed up?)).