Casting Pillars into the Sea

IMG_0027A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a hill in Reykjavik reading a mystery novel. I was in the middle of a 12-hour or so layover. And while I had the energy to get myself from the airport into the middle of the city, my brain was not feeling up to a museum and my body was not feeling up for any more walking. So I was sitting and feeling slightly guilty that I wasn’t doing more with my layover and also slightly satisfied to just be sitting in the sunshine.

But after a little time on the hill, I realized that I picked the perfect spot to relax because it was also a place that tour guides passed through and stopped to tell the story of the founding of Reykjavik. I got to sit and hear a bit about the city and read my book in the sun. Adding to that bit of serendipity was how wonderful the story of the founding of Reykjavik is. Ingólfur Arnason, a Norseman, was looking to leave Norway because of a feud he was involved in (that part’s not wonderful), so he left Norway and sailed toward Iceland. From his ship, he cast pillars from his old home into the sea and followed those pillars as they washed ashore on the land that would become Reykjavik. Although he was searching for a place to settle, his new home found him too.

As someone who doesn’t really believe in destiny or fate, I still felt a swell of sentiment at this story. I imagine like most good stories of beginnings, this one is only somewhat true. But the stories we tell about ourselves, whether they contain a bit of fiction or not, are so central to how we understand our world. And how lovely is it that the residents of Reykjavik get to live in a city not just happened upon but chosen by a little magic?

This is all a bit of lead up to say that while I had planned to go home after my Fulbright year (home being roughly the continental 48 states), through some decisions made by me and some made by the universe, I have found myself back in Norway, in Bergen to be exact. I don’t quite have the pillars of Ingólfur Arnarson—his pillars apparently signaled that he was a chieftan and I’m not that fancy—but as I have landed in Bergen, I have decided that maybe, just maybe I’m here for a reason.

So, I will be reading and teaching and trying to write more from this beautiful place for awhile.