I lost my heart in Iceland.
I was twelve and my best friend and I would ride almost every day. I had a Norwegian fjord horse named Freia, and she had an Icelandic horse named Kári. We would race each other in the fields, jump over logs and cross streams in the woods. We loved everything about horses, and we said that one day, we would ride in the wild nature of Iceland.
Twenty-seven years later, on a Wednesday afternoon, I sat on a chestnut mare named Þis (This), and we rode over hills and through streams, in green valleys and along cliffs, and I was finally there. Riding next to me was my oldest child, Ronja, twelve years old, the same age as I was when my dream was sparked. Full circle. Total bliss.
We went there for four days, with Ronjas dad. He and I split up when she was a year old, and we have never been on a trip together, the three of us. It felt like a good and necessary thing to do.
Coming there felt like I had come home. Like I had finally reached the arms of someone I had waited for my whole life. Every cell in my body was in a state of shock, of both wild fear and utter happiness, of awe and humility and of this: rest. Everything mixed into one.
It was an encounter with nature that I have never felt before. It shook me to my bones.
I think we, the so-called privileged people, go through our days feeling big, feeling important, empowered even sometimes. Like we really matter in this life. I do, in my daily life it feels like I matter, like my existence is very important. And then I met this place, and I felt so small, so insignificant, the landscape demanded respect and attention, I could not look away. And feeling so small, without any part to play, I felt short of breath and scared, but I also felt relieved. Like I was set free. Being a tiny human in a landscape so raw and untouched and powerful, facing how small I really am, it was good for me. It grounded me to my core.
We slept on its soil. Camping in Iceland is really the only thing to do if you want to get in touch with the energy of this place, and we found two wonderful and very different campsites. We did some touristy things and some not-so touristy things, and every day had magic in store. And all the time while I was there, I was thinking about when I can go back, and could we live there, and I wanted Nik and the other kids to be there, and could I work as a photographer there, and the horses, oh the horses. And when we left, I think some of me stayed, but I took something with me too: That feeling in my core, the feeling of connectedness and groundedness.
I knew it would be great, but I had never thought it would be so formative.