I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essentials of life and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
It’s been said that the greatest creative challenge is the struggle to be the architect of one’s own life. What do we do with all that power if we are the architects of our own life?
As we sit here on what is a summer day in the Arctic with rain pouring down sideways, we think about the value of and measure of time. For example, we have been here more than 290 days! That is roughly 6960 hours, 417 600 minutes! That is a whole lot of time spent with the same person, in the same place! Ettra could not be happier!
And yes – we are still friends! Of course we have our disagreements but they need to be solved quickly so that we can stay open to our creativity, our writing and the next phase of our project called the “Bamsebu Blueprint” something we know all can derive benefit from. The impetus behind the Blueprint is to share the DNA around how we have lived so simply, what we have learned from our time nestled close to nature and all of the wildlife, and what science and stories can tell us about all the data we collect and why we should all care.
This Blueprint will be in the form of resources and tools in a “toolbox” for the future. While we cannot create a Blueprint to predict the outcome of a human life we can most certainly create a Blueprint to share what we know today about what impact we have all had living the way we have. Time is definitely ticking on what we have left to save!
If you asked us to account for what happened yesterday and in detail – it requires both of our effort. Not because we forget (well, maybe a bit of that) but because the days here are so profoundly rich and immersive – like that endless summer we all remember, can never forget and cannot seem to replicate.
There is no phone that rings, no text that pings, no one knocks on our door, there is no traffic outside. Wait. Actually there is traffic outside but they are the barnacle geese with their 6 new born chicks racing to safety on the other side of the tundra and the reindeer that are working and nibbling their way through the wildflowers. Life’s distractions. The Arctic tundra is literally teeming with life right now. The seals, geese and their young, eider ducks and their young, reindeer and their young, gulls and Sanderlings. And there are zero cruise ships up here.
Our recent run to the adjacent point called Cap Fleur de Lys was full of surprises. The reindeer calves are about 2 weeks old and run with such speed we mistook one for a fox. They weigh about 10kg – we saw 6 of them under the protective watch of their mom. We collected a sample of polar bear poop, saw a dead gull trapped in netting, a dead young reindeer and picked up lots of plastic waste that had drifted onshore. The littered plastic on the beach requires a return trip in the days to come.
How do you plan for more than 6,960 hours somewhere? It’s almost impossible to calculate how many potatoes you will need, how many bags of cheese doodles, bars of chocolate, how many pounds of coffee grinds, how many movies you need on a hard-drive, how much wine, and how much satellite data to survive a month? Each one of these is a story in itself having run out of just about everything. We will have enough water, firewood and packaged food through the summer and we have purpose to fuel us.
We ate the last 4 tiny shrivelled potatoes and the last pieces of salmon. That’s it. No more fresh anything left. Not even an apple. And Sunniva has run out of coffee. We did have a generous and anonymous friend donate money to helicopter coffee up to Bamsebu. Even though the delivery isn’t possible, the thought was beyond wonderful! Life is endlessly full of surprises.
The work any of us does is simply one lens through which to view and experience the world.
The goal is to make living itself, the act of being fully alive, one’s vocation.
No blueprint can be found to predict the outcome of something as complex as a human life.
Many of our friends are struggling to answer – what is next? We have heard that people have experienced inordinate change with family, jobs, how they live and how to reshape their own unique identity in the world.
We are all understandably concerned about where we find ourselves in the middle of a world that is being called the new “normal”.
Our careers are not something that we put on like a jacket. It is something that grows organically around us, step-by-step, choice-by-choice, experience-by-experience, minute by minute. Everything adds up over time.
If it is true that the greatest creative challenge is the struggle to be the architect of one’s own life then we must do what needs to be done and then ask whether it was possible. We must all find ways to live with greater intention, care and respect for our natural world.
Dare to imagine what could be different. Creativity is a consequence of action. We must be patient with ourselves and each other as we navigate change in ourselves and in the way we interact with others. Just take one minute at a time. One breath at a time.
Priority # 1 is ourselves. If we do not take care of ourselves first then we have less ability to take care of others and less ability to take care of everything around us.
Mediocrity is not tolerated here so do not compromise.
We are a community of global citizens that have proven over and over that we are resilient, powerful, kind and creative!
What can we do with one minute? One minute picking up plastic. One minute meditating. One minute listening to someone. One minute to watch wildlife. One minute being vulnerable. One minute chopping wood. One minute of standing still and simply observing. One minute of self-care – whatever that means to you. One minute reading. One minute writing. One minute staring at the night sky. One minute thinking about the people you miss. One minute doing something about it. One minute to care for someone. One minute to question – am I being the best steward and caretaker of the place I call home?
To pre-order a copy of our book – due out late fall, check out this link.
We are staying here until September so we are working to raise funds for communications and logistics. For every 900 kr/90 usd donation through our GoFundMe-page – you will receive a handmade “Hearts in the Ice pendant” that makes you an official “heartbeat” of our growing community. Every bit helps so thank you!
Also, check out our podcast with Zestful Aging, and article in Running Magazine.
Big hugs, Sunniva and Hilde
The work that you do and the lives both of you have chosen is truly an example to be followed by humankind.
You are the heroes, the role models for the young and the old. If we don’t pause and reflect immediately on the damage we have and continue to inflict on our planet, our fate , and that of other species, will be very painful and disastrous.
Your messages and blogs are an inspiration to all of us especially at this moment when the world is in so much need of such sentiment.
Remain strong and knowing that there are a bunch of humans and and planet Earth saying Thank You for what You Do.
I can’t wait for the book!!
With much love and gratitude!!