Unmeaning Flattery

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And Beauty Shall Reign Alone

Wednesday 08/24/2005 2:22 AM

Due to the storms, we lost power a couple times tonite. The first time, it stayed off for a while. So I lit the candles in the living room and grabbed a couple of them and placed them on the coffee table so I could read some more of my new favorite book, Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment. It is a combination of memoir and scientific adventure that has me just ripping through the pages.

After discussing gourmet cooking, sado-masochism and ultramarthonners, the author travels to Iceland with a colleague to study sleep disorders. While there, the two of them visit Snæfellsjökull, a volcano on the western-most peninsula of Iceland that is, according to the Icelandic people, rumored to be a place of special power.

After catching some sleep during the endless day not even a week after the summer solstice, the two see that the clouds have parted to reveal the peak and they go off in search of the best way to find their way to the top. In a nearby village, they rent snowmobiles and hire a guide to help navigate the rugged, icy terrain of the slope. Unforuntately, as they ascend, the closer they get to the top, the thicker the returning clouds become until, just as they reach the summit, they can hardly see each other, let alone the precarious 1,000 foot drop-offs surrounding them.

As they try to find their bearing, a shape appears out of the mist and fog. It is an affable German mountaineer who greets them and later shares their joy as the weather clears once again to reveal the majesty of the ice-filled and snow-covered volcanic crater.

I'll let the author, Gregory Berns, take you through the last few paragraphs of the chapter:

The German reached into his backpack and pulled out a small book. He read aloud:

"Where the glacier meets the sky, the land ceases to be earthly, and the earth becomes one with the heavens; no sorrows live there any more, and therefore joy is not necessary; beauty alone reigns there, beyond all demands."

He was quoting World Light, by Halldór Laxness, the Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic writer. The words suffused me with a feeling of serentiy, and a warmth grew outward from my belly. The crunchy ice below my feet began to soften, as if the crater floor were oozing, and my head soared and spun into the expansive vista. Weightless, I floated toward the sky, awash in beauty. Alone.

And just as I read that last word, the lights came back on in the house.

File Under: Book; Life Happening; Quote of the Day; Synchronicity; Weather
Music: Cliff Martinez "Solaris Soundtrack"

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