Daily Prompt: On the Road
“If you could pause real life and spend some time living with a family anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
Hello dear friends
I’m not entirely sure why, but if I could pause real life and spend time living with a family anywhere, I would choose to go to Iceland! Is it because I have been to a lot of places already and none of them excited me enough to want to visit when I saw this question on the Daily Prompt?
You see, I have been to Europe, I have sailed through the South Sea Islands to Hawaii, I have travelled a great deal in outback Australia as well as the coastal beaches and all the capital cities. But not once, did I find any country that captured my fancy folks… not until a specific memory came to me that is.
The memory was of an interview I heard on the radio some months ago with a young Australian writer called Hannah Smith. She had just won an award with a book she had written for her PhD, about the execution of the last women murderer in Iceland. She entered the book “Burial Rites” in the new Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Awards on the advice of a friend over a coffee. Of course, she won!
I listened attentively to her story as she told of applying to be an exchange student overseas when she was 17 years old. During her interview for the exchange, she was asked if she would be fazed if she had to go to a strange country like Iceland where it could be dark or light for 24 hours a day.
So keen was Hannah to get into the program that she replied “Oh, no worry, I’d be fine!” However, when her name came up to actually travel to Iceland and live there for a year, she could hardly believe it was true. Now it was reality, she wondered how she would cope … but off she went to Iceland anyway. No other student was chosen for an Iceland exchange!
Poor Hannah, she was in for the shock of her life. I was glued to the radio listening to her story but she tells it herself in the Guardian online and I have included a little for you here:
“When I arrived it was January (2002) and the days were gripped by darkness, 20 hours at a time. There were no trees. The town’s houses were hostage to snow, and in the distance the north Atlantic Ocean met the north sky in a suggestion of oblivion. It felt like the edge of the world.
I was intensely lonely. The community was tightly knit, and I was an outsider. For the first time in my life I felt socially isolated, and my feelings of alienation were compounded by the claustrophobic winter darkness, and the constant confinement indoors. I turned to writing for company, to fill the black hours. I sought shelter in libraries, consolation in books.” www.theguardian.com/books/buriel-rites-writer-hannah-kent
It was here in Iceland that she came across the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, who was beheaded in1830 for being involved in the murders of two men. Hannah has become a best seller thanks to the story she went back to Iceland in 2011 to research and write. It is an incredible story that had stayed with her since she was a teenager. I can’t wait to read it.
Now dear friends, I was captivated by how life would be for a 17-year-old girl living in such a strange country, having to learn a very strange language and adapt to a way of life that was so unique that she had no way of knowing that accepting this challenge was going to affect her life.
The thing I liked about Hannah living in Iceland was how it has now defined her path for the rest of her life …
I too would like to live somewhere challenging, to see if I was up to the challenge … to see if it would affect who I am as a person. Would MY life be changed forever as Hannah Smith’s life was changed?
Or am I too old to be influenced by such a change in culture and situation? Am I too old to learn a new language? All these questions jump out at me at the thought of going to Iceland to see if I could cope.
Perhaps … I tell myself … I could pause my life for just a WEEK and live in Iceland? Knowing there would be an end date would make things easier I am sure. However, there is nothing like a long-term commitment to test your metal and see what is underneath your exterior is there?
It’s a strange thing, but the older I get, the more I am seeking such challenges. Perhaps it is because I am afraid of getting set in my ways. I can see how people in their sixties may resist such challenges and seek out the tried and true because it is easier.
But not this dear old Grandmother! No siree … I am not ready to lay down and die just yet. I don’t want to give up and find life too difficult. Perhaps if I was to embrace the difficulties head-on and as Nike says so rightly “Just Do It!” I might just live until that telegram arrives from the Queen when I turn 100.
I think I’ll write a list and start putting those Nike ticks beside each thing I’d like to do or places I want to visit, before I die … a bit like a Bucket List I suppose, but I’m going to call it a Possibilities List.
Am I really too old to go to Iceland dear friends?? It’s a scary thought but I must put it ‘out there’ and think hard and long about it. What do you think?