“The sky knows when its’ time to snow, Don’t need to teach a seed to grow. It’s just another ordinary miracle today” – Sarah McLachlan
Right now we all seem to be living on our own “little islands”. Communication in the virtual sense being nearly the only way to connect and be together. This crisis affects all of us and in some strange way is encouraging a closeness in our isolation. It is now that we all have the chance to also connect deeply and get closer to the natural world around us.
From our little island close to the North Pole we offer a few reflections from our time living in and around our 20sq mtr hut isolated and alone with our 4- legged friend Ettra, the wildlife, the mountains and the most magical backyard this side of the equator.
We make new discoveries every single day. We call them ordinary miracles.
It was not like that at home. We were often so busy doing this and that. Answering emails, calls, our minds distracted with a million internal and external stimuli. Days could pass without noticing much except what time it was as if to suddenly wonder where the heck the time went.
Here we have had the chance to make other choices. We are efficient here, even though things take more time. We have a routine, habits and systems.
In this efficiency we have time for what matters most – living safely here and being present to “ordinary miracles” while making a contribution to our understanding of a changing world and eco-system. A world changed by decisions we have all made consciously or rather unconsciously.
This simple efficiency of living so closely to nature amplifies our thoughts, affects our choices and illuminates the challenges.
The choices we made before we left all show up here 8 months later – the food we brought, the clothes we wear and the use of green energy with our solar panels and wind mill. I mean, what do we really need? We have not shopped, showered or gone anywhere. Breakfast is either oatmeal or granola. Our habits matter. They become our foundation. Our choices form our habits. Hour after hour, day after day. The less choices we have had to make, the simpler things are.
We work hard to keep our own thoughts clean, unselfish and more along the lines of “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country” from JFK’s speech some 60 years ago – his call to action for people to do what was best for the greater good.
The power that exists in nature – we have felt to the core. It’s a power where you realize the wind is beyond taming, it tames you. It’s a power that invokes a sense of place and belonging. This belonging, this place is what we now call home. It strengthens us, makes us feel confident, vulnerable, curious, playful, happy, kind and enhances our creativity. We inhale the purpose of why we are here: to love, understand and problem solve so that all species thrive and co-exist. From 1974 to 2014 we have seen a 60% reduction in the volume of species according to the WWF. A new global deal for nature and people, with clear, ambitious goals, and targets is needed to bend the curve of biodiversity loss.
It is so difficult for most of us to find the quiet and belonging we feel so strongly here. When you do find it please hold on to it like the best friend it is.
We – Sunniva and Hilde – are keen observers to what is happening around us. It all adds up to tell a story and serve as some prediction for what is to come.
The ice has its own sound as the water ebbs and flows under its thick sheet. It gapes open as if to gasp for breath and then closes like a vice and repeats.
We collect ice cores samples and wonder what the microscopic organisms living inside sea ice will tell us? Biodiversity is key and by losing sea ice we may lose many endemic Arctic species. We hope all of the data we collect adds up to tell a story of life in the ocean.
We hear Ettra’s sounds as her paws punch through the hard surface of the snow looking for her daily treasures. We hear the windmill as it shifts direction, the fox as it tries to sneak past the window, we hear small bits of ice come down the stove pipe when the sun has warmed it loose. We hear the scrape of the worn reindeer hooves as they try desperately to find bits of grass in this white frozen tundra. The reindeer that live in our backyard are 23 in total and completely unafraid of us and seem to wander closer every day. Everything lives in a perfect sort of harmony.
We wonder if the snow crystals are changing in front of us, or are we changing? Marcel Proust’s words ring true “Perhaps the real voyage of discovery consists in not seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”
In our solitude and connection here we have become so intimately aware of our strength and our power as a species. The worst thing would be for all of us to wake up from this time of climate crisis and not even remember what had been lost. Our modern world does not have all of the answers for all of the challenges that will present us in the coming years. There are so many different ways to live. The many cultures that exist around the world are communities of real people with real needs. Our accomplishments in the western world have been stunning with advancements in medicine, technology and so on. But these accomplishments should not in any way suggest that we westerners have a monopoly on the path to the future.
If anything, this forced withdrawal of human activity due to the spreading virus shows us that the path we have been on has been so terribly consuming in all ways.
Much of the development in our modern world has torn people from their ancestral pasts and propelled them into an uncertain future.
Extreme would be one word for a civilization that contaminates the soil, air and water with its waste, dams the rivers, tears down the ancient forests and drives plants, animals and insects to extinction and empties the sea of fish and precious life.
The planet is taking a much needed deep breath right now. Let’s imagine that the criteria for excellence in our world shifted from technological process to how to thrive in a sustainable manner with a true reverence and deep appreciation for the earth. After all, this is our home.
What does this connection to our natural world do for us as people? We create symphonies, we write poetry and novels, we paint masterpieces, we feel deep love, we design and innovate for the greater good, we build shelters, we sing with voices that pierce – nature brings out the power and essence of who we are. We develop courage through fear and being afraid, it makes us stronger as it requires mental, emotional and physical fitness to go deep into the wilderness. It brings out the passionate curiosity in us.
Our ancestors had a deep connection with the earth and they listened and observed all of the signs to adapt how they moved and what they took in a harmonious way. We have lost the deep listening that is needed now but it is not too late to hear what she has to say.
2020 is showing a different sort of “Silent Spring” than what Rachel Carson referred to some 60 years ago.
We are hushed and the birds are singing.
What is it telling you? She is dying for you to understand.
Big hugs, Sunniva and Hilde
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