Iceland: the 64th degree north, longitude. Were the entire country inhabitable, the population could be distributed so that there could be three people per square kilometer. It’s an otherworldly place that feels too far east from the Americas and too separate from the rest of the EU, where countries’ borders cling to one another in a large, communal mass of earth. It is a little utopia that rests in the centerfold of a wildly enveloping expanse of waves that form the Atlantic Ocean. Quietly, it bubbles and breathes as tectonic plates shuffle and shrug beneath a mysterious mass of volcanic rock. Actively dreamy, it moves in its own circles, untainted by the mass consumerism that permeates the lives of those living atop more vast expanses of land.
Perhaps Icelandic culture has always been a part of me, unknowingly. I watched vaporous rainbow landslides soar across rock pools below waterfalls, and could feel my belief in magic restored. In Iceland, many Sagas tell of elves living in the rocks and caves. I’m told that many people in Iceland still believe in the elves, and build them small houses.
For me, Iceland was a dream. Not in the longing sense, but an actual dream. I could’ve sworn that everything I saw gave me déjà vu, a strange tugging of my heartstrings one only feels when they remember a memory after having forgotten it for years. You wonder if it ever even happened at all, or if it was a figment of your imagination. I saw a house that was only the wooden framework of a crumbling shack, which I’m sure I recognized from a childhood dream. Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall you can walk behind, gave me a similar tickle of the soul as I recognized its landscape from somewhere in the back of my mind.
A woman I met in Iceland told me that everyone there sings because singing is good for the soul. I heard many songs during my visit. Every person I met had a golden aura that hummed its own quiet melody. It makes complete sense that musicians such as Björk, Sigur Ros, and Mum make the kind of the music that they do. It is the music of an upbringing of folklore, unspoiled landscapes that stretch all the way to the horizon, summer days that never turn to night, and winter days of dressing in the dark, awash in dewy hues.