From Iceland — Some Kind of a Metaphor

Some Kind of a Metaphor

Some Kind of a Metaphor

Valur Grettisson
Words by
Photo by
Varvara Lozenko

Published May 3, 2017

When I was a child, my parents taught me two things about Iceland: one, that we were once strong Vikings, and two, that we had no fear. They also told me that there is something called the Atlantic Ocean, and it should be respected and feared, even by the berserking Vikings. This is a paradox that all Icelanders grow up with, and it’s the reason we respect Icelandic sailors like we respect our doctors. Because the sea doesn’t always give—it also takes back without mercy.

For example, my uncle was working on a fishing ship in his twenties when a wave grabbed him from the deck, and pulled him overboard. He was never found. The sea swallowed him whole. My father was a sailor for a long time, and I was always aware of the danger.

Most Icelanders have a story like that to tell. Everybody has lost something to the ocean.

So imagine our surprise when we heard about these fearless women who travel around Iceland and transform these dangerous waters into a playground with their surfboards. They’re not only fearless, but berserking Vikings themselves. Because who would go willingly into the cold water to tame this dangerous beast? To ride waves that can easily crush you? For me, it’s the same as riding the fire of a flame-breathing dragon.

And I’m pretty sure that there’s some kind of metaphor about our society here. These strong women face the brutal power of the ocean, and although it spits them out again and again, they get right back on the board, until that wave has finally been beaten.

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