Embracing the Cold
I've never been a fan of the cold, which made our choice of Iceland for our first "empty nester" vacation a surprising one. The decision came from an unusual place - a direct flight opportunity from D.C. after visiting our freshman daughter in college. Options spanned from Jamaica - a favorite of ours, to Colombia - a "never been, want to go." But ultimately it was Iceland that called to us, promising a challenge beyond the comfort of salt-rimmed margaritas on a sunny beach. In preparation, we packed "layers upon layers," a puzzle of warmth and practicality for our Icelandic adventure.
Embracing the Cold
Landing in Iceland at 4:00am, we were greeted by a piercing cold air that instantly tested our resolve. The wait for the car rental, coupled with warnings about door-slamming winds, set a challenging tone. But soon, we plunged into a world both alien and beautiful.
From soaking in hot springs under freezing rain to walking behind waterfalls and tasting geothermal steam-cooked rye bread, each experience was a revelation. Clinging to a slippery rope on a hike, I couldn’t help but think, "This is their version of easy?!" Yet, the stunning vistas were a breathtaking reward.
Weather in Iceland is more than an inconvenience; it dictates your plans. When roads close and gusts exceed 50 MPH, respect and caution are mandatory. This demanding, sensory-rich experience was nothing short of spectacular.
The Beauty of Simplicity
In Reykjavik, the heart of Iceland's simplicity, we gained a fresh perspective on beauty and resilience. It's a city where the majestic nature meets human creativity in harmony. The small, cozy cafes scattered around Reykjavik were not just shelters from the cold but windows into the Icelandic soul. They reflect a lifestyle deeply connected to the natural world, offering a new appreciation for life's essentials.
Beyond Reykjavik, Iceland’s diverse landscapes further shifted our perspective. Each site, from the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall to the haunting black beaches near Vik, revealed a different facet of nature's power. At Þingvellir National Park, we marveled at walking between continents, understanding our place within this vast geological wonder. Yet, Iceland’s unpredictable nature, with its frequent volcanic eruptions, starkly reminded us that beauty and tranquility coexist with powerful, transformative forces.
Back in the States, the contrast was stark. Attending our daughter's school for parents' weekend, the breakfast complaints about mild weather were almost amusing. Our newfound Viking spirit found humor in what would have been our own reactions just a week prior. Marcel Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." This trip didn't just change our tolerance for cold; it gave us new eyes. Walking in the rain back home, we now smile more, no longer daunted by what we once deemed unpleasant. It was a small act, but a significant testament to our changed outlook.
Applying This Perspective
This shift isn't just personal; it's a lesson in embracing new perspectives in all aspects of life. How many people make decisions (or avoid making decisions) from a myopic point of view? I ponder this as I arrive in New York City for NRF '24 "RETAIL'S BIG SHOW," where the theme "Make it Matter" resonates more than ever. It's about creating value, experiences, and purpose that matter. This trip is about challenging, not just validating, my perspectives.
Our experiences in Iceland taught us that braving new challenges can profoundly change our perspectives and the way we interact with the world. As I navigate through the next few days, in weather not as challenging as Iceland's, I'm reminded of the importance of this lesson. Perspective does, indeed, matter - it shapes not only our adventures but also our everyday lives and the decisions we make within them.