This summer, 2020, I embarked on another adventure. Perhaps the biggest one yet. I moved to Norway together with my husband Koen.
We put all our furniture and other junk in a big moving truck, put our 2 cats (Ronny and Marie) in a car and drove all the way to our new home in the northernmost part of the region Vestland, Norway. Now we are renting out the apartment that we own in Belgium and started renting an apartment ourselves in a tiny Norwegian village.
When I moved to Iceland, over 2 years ago, I got the same question over and over again. WHY? It hasn’t been different this time. I always tend to deflect the question. Why does the questioner stay in this country or why does he live in the country that he lives in? Not only is this deflecting some sort of protection strategy, it is also plain curiosity.
Admittedly, I don’t have a clear answer myself. Over the course of the last weeks, I have been reflecting on it. What is it that drives me? What am I so desperately running from? What is so irresistible pulling at me?
I have never been someone who accepted life as it is. Always challenging why things are the way they are, why we have the habits that we have, why we do things the way that we do, why we have the traditions that we have. The human mind can be so unexplainably attached to the familiar, "just because". I never understood that.
Heck, I can’t even follow a cooking recipe without changing something.
So, it was only a matter of time before I started questioning why it was in Belgium, that I was living. Just because I was born there, for sure didn’t mean that I should stay there? Something I figured out by the age of 10.
As long as I can remember, since I was a very young child, I never felt at home. But, don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with my family, whom I love. I have just alway felt an unexplainable sense of homesickness. Homesickness to a place I couldn’t even describe, or make an image of in my head. Just a very persistent and lonely feeling of wanting to go ‘home’.
I have been on the lookout ever since. Looking for that specific, yet undefinable, feeling. That feeling of home.
Of course, that’s only one side of the story. There is also my problem with rules. Not only do I have difficulties with direct authority, I also have problems with living in a society ruled by a set of normalised direct and indirect ‘rules’ of how a person should live. The whole normalised course of life, that so many people follow, the whole 9 to 5 labour market. It doesn’t really work for me. It all feels like wearing clothes, several sizes too small.
Getting physically away from the place I grew up, surrounded by all these ‘rules’, brings me some sort of mental distance from the unconscious knots in my head. As if taking distance makes it easier to see the bigger picture, enabling me to untie some of these blockages in my mind.
Every time I could get away, even for short periods of time, from the place I unconsciously associated with ‘rules’, I did. And it felt so good, shedding those expectations for a while. Literally running away from everything.
But running away is never the solution. Solutions never just present themselves. Only through action and transformation can problems be solved. I can’t say I have found the right actions though. All I know is, that I want to find my own game rules, invent my own game even. Since I don’t fit in the environment and the working system that I grew up knowing, I have to create a new setting that fits in with me.
Now why Norway, of all places? Why Iceland before that? Again, I have to give you a mix of very vague and very specific reasons. To start with the obvious, I have to mention the fresh, clean air. Another odd thing about young me, was that I couldn’t seem to breath enough. Growing up, this became less dramatic, but the feeling never completely went away. I always thought it smelled in Belgium. Like really bad. Being here in Norway and in Iceland before that, makes such a big difference. I can breathe here. The air smells so incredibly good, there is so much oxygen. I don’t know why this has such an impact on me, but it does. I can say the same thing about the fresh, clean water coming out of the tap.
Finally, there is enough nature around me. Stretches of virgin nature to retreat to, to charge my batteries. I can get so much energy out of being in nature. It’s breathtakingly gorgeous here. The atmosphere both here and in Iceland, feels oddly specific ‘fairytale-esque’. The landscape looks like all the tales and stories, still stuffed in their eggs in my head. It gives me so much energy, so much clarity to live beneath this magic. I can feel it swirling in the air around me. It lives in the forest, in the moss on the rocks, in the fjords and the mist dancing between the mountains. It feels ‘right’ to be here, I can barely contain the gratefulness. As if the inside world, that has been hiding in my brain, is being physically projected outwards, surrounding me completely and showing its possibilities.
Then there is the aspect of the climate. The unapologetic capriciousness of the weather, the unpleasing nature of it, sets me a strange example. The weather just ‘is’. It has accepted itself completely as it is. Not acting differently, not pleasing anyone. And it is beautiful. The cold wind on my cheeks, the cold splashes of rain, the mist. There is some character in the air here.
Lastly, I have to give the stage to the population density. Having so much less people around, directly decreases my stress levels. Being around heaps of people, constantly, has always drained me quickly.
But there is a sense of guilt within me too. What I hear most from other people, who couldn’t image moving to another country, is that they couldn’t live without their family. Apparently, I can. The things that pull at me, are stronger than the need to be with my family. Although I love them. So, now and then, a little voice inside my head wonders: “What is wrong with me and why am I so heartless?”
I have to be careful on my path of becoming a real loner. Deep down I know that I’m starved for real authentic human connection.
I probably haven’t discovered all the reasons why I am running away and what it is that I’m searching. The path of my live, this searching for authenticity, has physically manifested in an actual quest that will lead me to I don’t know how many places on this earth.
Now do I think that moving to Norway will solve all my issues? Absolutely not. However, what I do hope, is that it will give me a new breeding ground. A home base that is a closer reflection of my inner world. A place that could give me the nourishment that I need, so that I can finally find my path. A path I could walk, free of resistance.