Finding Balance in Nature: How to Design the Life You Want
Hvolsvollur, Iceland March 2012
“Matt, you want energy before Mountain Hut?” Siggi said to me in his thick Icelandic accent.
“Sure Siggi,” I said. “I’m pretty hungry.”
Siggi dug into his mom’s refrigerator and pulled out a heaping plate of leftovers. Mashed potatoes, gravy, and a tender red meat I’d never had before…
“Siggi, this is delicious, what is this?” I asked.
He glanced down at my plate to make sure I was done…
“It’s horse, of course!” he said with a chuckle…
Welcome to Iceland
We were on our way to Siggi’s Mountain Hut deep in the interior of Iceland. I wish I could describe this place, but it’s hard to put it to words.
Most people say Iceland looks like the surface of the moon. Black lava rocks, dense rolling fog coming in off the North Atlantic, and permanently ominous skies. Just driving down the road, you’ll find waterfall after waterfall coming off the fjords. Dive deeper into the interior and you’ll find hidden canyons and geothermal steam rising from the ground. All of this, painted on a backdrop of volcanic glaciers waiting to erupt.
Siggi and I loaded up his Superjeep and took off down a dirt road. I know Superjeeps aren’t the most eco-friendly thing in the world, but if you are on the Icelandic Rescue Team like Siggi is, they seem pretty necessary for getting to the top of glaciers and volcanoes.
Siggi is all about tradition. He loves to tell stories of Icelandic Sagas that happened literally in his backyard. His favorite is about Gunnar Hamundarson who lived in the 10th century and could jump his own body length in full armor, back to front. Icelanders also believe in elves and trolls, Siggi tells me.
Up we climbed to the top of Hekla volcano. It was getting late, but it didn’t seem to matter to Siggi. He’d been to the top of this snow capped glacier more times than he could count. Somehow I was supposed to be reassured knowing that it hadn’t erupted since 2000. If molten lava did start busting through the icecap causing massive floods that would destroy the valley below us in mere minutes, there was nobody that I’d have more confidence in getting us out alive than Siggi.
It was almost 11:00pm now, and we were getting to the top. Siggi pulled out his favorite Chivas Regal whiskey and two cigars to celebrate as he does atop every mountain he summits. Looking out at Eykjavikfokull in the distance, time seemed to stop. That sunset was a game changer for me.
Under30Experiences was born
“Damn, I need to do more of this,” I started telling Siggi.
Sunsets, hiking, and the great outdoors were what I was raised on…how the hell did I get so disconnected? How did I become so caught up in a superficial world?
“Why do Americans work so much?” Siggi came back with.
“That’s not all there is to life.”
Where am I supposed to go with this article now? If you aren’t sold by the romanticism of the above, I should probably give up.
When it comes to designing the life you want, there needs to be a balance. Yes, I understand technology keeps us connected around the clock, but seriously, put that shit away sometimes.
Maybe you are allergic to nature. (Read the hygiene hypothesis.) Maybe you don’t like to get dirty as one of my biggest diva friends once told me. If so, start small. Find a little green space somewhere in your crowded city and try your best to enjoy it. Get some sun on your face, take off your shoes and put your feet directly on the ground. I promise you there are major health benefits like Vitamin D and grounding that I’ll get into in future posts.
This series is about what worked for me in my personal evolution and how you can find your own path. The answers to my stressors are not going to be the same as yours. I might have needed a dramatic shock like climbing active volcanoes in Iceland to get me out of my rut. You might need something else.
Whatever you do, I urge you to get out of your comfort zone.
It sounds cliche, but do something that scares you, even if it’s something as small as attending one of our meetups where you don’t know anyone. Maybe signing up for a $645 trip to Costa Rica is out of reach for you right now and that’s okay too.
At the end of the day, evolving as a modern human often means going back to the roots of our ancient ancestors before Instagram Addiction was a thing. Find some silence, fresh air, clean water, and natural beauty around you. I promise it will open you up to the natural beauty within yourself.
Check out the podcast episode here: