Into the Northern Lights

Into the Northern Lights

- in Column
@Saahil Waslekar

Thoughts are those sparks which direct us to great ideas, says columnist Saahil Waslekar

Just before landing in Reykjavik, approximately around 11 p.m., outside the window, I saw my first ever aurora. It appeared to be a belt of faint emerald. The sight did not provide for a ‘Wow’ factor as it failed to resemble the sharp aurora photographs seen in magazines.

Similar to this particular aurora, are our thoughts that become faint over time. A question arises – what is the equivalent of a camera that captures vibrant colours of an aurora, to capture our thoughts. One potential answer could be found in Iceland.

Thoughts, especially the ones worth holding on to, seldom come our way. They find their own passage into our minds, appearing momentarily and disappear as if never having occurred. In Iceland, as if there are thought bubbles flying everywhere, observations and actions of individuals and institutions seem to be captured in an invisible social fabric.

The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Government of Iceland, spoke to us (students of Lund University) about the growing mistrust that the citizens of Iceland feel among themselves towards Icelandic politicians. This knowledge might be the result of the government reaching out to its people.

Recollecting an hour at a souvenir shop which had ‘Puffin’ in its name, provides another example. The shopkeeper’s friend who was helping her, soon to be an art student in Paris, spoke to me about the migratory patterns of the puffin bird, from the highlands of Icelandic mountains to the plates of tourists, being served as an Icelandic delicacy. Not only did he display one of Iceland’s silent challenges – brain drain, but also the fact that locals could feel the weight of the growing number of tourists.

The circle had already completed itself when the University of Iceland and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in their interactions with us over the previous two days, had shared their concern of brain drain among Icelandic youth and opportunities and threats to Iceland through the growing tourism industry. At every level Icelandic people are very open about the thoughts they collect.

On the flight back, two siblings had seats next to mine. They were from the Faroe Islands and their names were Gunn and Tron. They shared with me, stories about fishing, finance and fashion specific to the Faroe Islands. I shared with them stories from Iceland, India and Lund.

This trip made me realise one enjoyable fact – sharing your thoughts with everyone is an enriching experience. We should be discussing our thoughts with more people, especially with individuals outside of our immediate area of interest, work or specialisation.

In other words, not holding back on our thoughts, which might as well culminate into a ground-breaking idea for someone, is good for everyone. In one way, once a thought is shared, the receiver of your thought would serve as a storage hub from where you can advance your thinking in the future.

For Iceland, social memory is working to its advantage. For us, as individuals, sharing of thoughts will show a route into an array of ideas as bright as the northern lights.

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