“This song is kind of a tribute to my home, which I feel is a shelter that saves me from the madness of the world we have to endure every day,” said Olafur Arnalds, a musician from Iceland when he was talking about one of his songs, “This place is a shelter.”
Those sentences went through my mind when my wife and I visited Greenland. We were on a hiking trip starting at the ice cap a few miles north of the Arctic Circle. Our goal was to reach the ocean on foot in two weeks. It was a time-out in an empty region with wide valleys, soft hills, harsh rock walls, and countless lakes.
During those days, it was like living some kind of slow-motion life. It was a time away from the madness of the world, but our shelter was not a house as Arnalds mentioned, which gives some sort of security and comfort. Our shelter was the unoccupied region between ice and ocean, between earth and heaven.
There was no method or opportunity to communicate with the rest of the world and vice versa: We did not get news from the world. It was as if the world had forgotten us and we had left it behind. Such a time-out in solitude can create stressful situations. We were alone; there were no services available nor was there a way to buy food or other supplies. An accident was always a possibility, or one of us might have gotten sick. The weather can be unpredictable, turning suddenly ugly and making a hike tougher than expected. Challenges were ever-present, and we were expecting and prepared for tough situations.
One evening during our hiking trip, we were sitting on a sandy beach at a lake, listening to the sound that was created by wind and waves. We watched a single water bird on the lake in its search for fish. Besides the natural sound of the wind and water, it was quiet, absolutely quiet. There was nothing, just absolute silence.
The world in this moment had nothing to do with madness. Such an evening is nothing more than a brain-friendly exclusivity.