Sunday, 13 April 2014

Life's beautiful ways...

Life is a series of days, weeks, months and years.

With each year, the bubble of life experience expands in all directions and with it comes maturity. Maturity is a bewildering concept and our society has a tendency to complicate the natural order of life. 

We make expectations for ourselves that we feel obliged to live up to, social expectations that are decided by someone other than us, the very people who are supposed to live in accordance to these so-called rules. 

Career-building, finding a mate, deciding whether to have children or pets or both, and deciding whether to rent or buy a place a of your own; these are all decisions we are supposed to make by a certain age.

I turned 34 this past week and I feel no different than I did when I turned 30 or when I turned 27. I am the same person I was ten years ago. What has changed is that I have learnt to embrace who I am and I feel no need to live up to anyone's standards.

There is no doubt about it that with age comes the freedom to just be and live by one's own set of rules. It's a liberating sensation to discover that all that is expected of us is to find happiness in whatever form makes each and every one of us happy.

If I have learnt anything on my travels, then it is that the only person I need to please is myself. If I fail to make myself happy then how can I expect to be happy in the company of others? I need to embrace who I am and follow my heart where it comes making decisions that affect my future. 

In Icelandic society expectations are sky-high. As a woman, I am expected to be educated, partnered-up, fit and healthy, and preferably use my uterus in the name of preserving the myth of motherhood-for-all.

To defy this way of life is an untraditional approach to life in a small society where procreation is the only way to populate this little island with the next generation of inhabitants. But some of us do anyway.

We all have a passion that we want to pursue and dreams that we long to see come true; age and these so-called obligations should not stand in our way of following them through. In my case, my passion and dreams are emerged in the curious worlds of travel, writing and literature. 

And I take pride in my life choices.

My philosophy in life is feminism and I have strong beliefs in the importance of individual freedom for us all, a freedom to be the person we are in our heart of hearts. 

Therefore, turning 34 without having fulfilled all the aspects of my societal duties was not a sharp stab of cold steel reminding me I am now a year older and still not a dutiful mother. It was a beautiful day that I spent with my husband and my darling dog Emma, and I loved every minute of it.

I have come far in life. I am not the shy little girl who lacked confidence in her childhood and youth to shamelessly embrace her quirks and wits. 

There were many moments during my childhood that I sat in-front of the television screen – uninterrupted by iPads, iPhones and Macs – gazing at the long list of names scrolling up the screen after watching a film or a television show from places far away from my humble small town on the western shores of Iceland.

At the mere age of eight I discovered English and from that moment on my life was forever changed. Something in the narrative vocabulary, accents of different descent and carefree creativity captured my attention and to this very day, I remain captivated by its energy.

A couple of nights ago, as the long list of crew and cast in Forrest Gump scrolled up the screen, the surname Nye caught my attention. Instinctively, with a native intuition I knew how to pronounce the name, a skill that I desired greatly at the age of 14 when I saw the film for the very first time.
At the time, I was blown away by the enchanting landscape of Greenbow, Alabama, a scene so distant from the cool streets of New York or the hip Californian coastline.

There was and still is a bohemian element in my perception, a connection with nature that is cut off from the madness of cities that never rest. I have never visited the southern states of the North American United States, but my enthusiastic interest in the fluidity of city life was changed by the soothing serenity of the wholesome green bubble that is the beautiful scenery in the sweet-natured temperature of eternal spring and summer.

The illusion of the idyllic is a beautiful illusion. People are always at fault where it comes to bursting the bubble but there is nonetheless a peaceful comfort to life inside the bubble.

We live in a world that is rapidly changing and with each year something changes, something new comes along and we bid farewell to the old. Life has a way to make sense of everything in time, although most of the time - especially when times are hard - we curse its unpredictability. Then one day everything just makes sense and the pain and hardships of the past are validated by the existence of this better place.

I learnt at a young age that life is precious. My grandfather had a stroke and from that day onwards, he was bound to a wheelchair. He was in his early seventies at the time and spent the last fourteen years of his life in the chair. 

My grandmother looked after him with love and compassion and toward the end of her life, some years after he passed away, she was tired in body and soul after a long and often a difficult life.

They never got to enjoy their retirement years. They had a happy life together and I doubt they regretted their choices in life. But I wish the last decade and half they spent together had been a happier time.

They got to see their descendants mature into adulthood, had grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and to me, always looked like theirs was a beautiful partnership.

But how I wish they'd had the chance to explore the world and finally embrace the beauty of a peaceful life in their retirement years. 

And so, for that reason, I am dedicated to embrace each year on my own terms, to make decisions and take risks that are rewarding to me personally and that I can share with my partner.

I hope my partner and I will be in good health when we enter our retirement years, that we will have lived a full life and have the opportunity to continue our travels together until we can do no more.

For some a box of fine handmade Swiss chocolate pieces is the ultimate dream while for me the combination of licorice and creamy chocolate is a delicate treat for the finer moments in life. 

Life is a box of chocolate and assorted sweets… and it can be enjoyed at any age.