Focus on Discovery
Discovery; the action or process of discovering or being discovered. I first wrote a Bucket List back in 2010. Formalising on paper a childhood dream, I penned my great desire to see the Northern Lights. For many years, for one reason or another, this desire remained unfulfilled until last week, my husband and I took to the skies to Iceland to seek out the elusive Aurora Borealis. We were so excited. On arrival we were taken by taxi to one of the 25 Natural Wonders of the World; The Blue Lagoon. What an incredible experience. Geothermal 38℃ seawater channelled into the lagoon from 2000 metres within the earth mixing with freshwater and enriched with silica, minerals and algae. The lagoon was stunning and as the sun set we were plunged into mysterious darkness with black bulging rain clouds circling overhead. A short bus trip took us to our hotel and we headed straight out for a delicious dinner in a delightful, friendly restaurant called Salka Valka nestled in the heart of Reykjavik. Probably named after the book written by 1955 Icelandic author and Nobel Prize Winner Halldór Laxness. As we walked back to the hotel the clouds disappeared and we were greeted by a fabulous starry sky and a full moon. It was late so tired from travelling and with a stomach full of delicious Icelandic fare and draught Viking beers we went to bed. Sitting at breakfast the next morning there was a discernible buzz in the air. What had we missed? The FOMO was palpable. I leaned in to eavesdrop. Nooooo!!! Everyone was talking about the Northern Lights and how amazing they had been last night! We had been so distracted by the wonders of the lagoon and our Icelandic fish stew that we had forgotten about the whole purpose of the trip. We immediately checked the aurora forecast. It would be cloudy for the next two nights and our planned Northern Lights boat trip was likely to be cancelled due to snow. We had missed our only opportunity to see them on this trip. Despondent yet knowing regret is futile, we continued to discover and explore more of Reykjavik by foot. We went into a shop and an overexcited shopkeeper enquired, “did you see the lights last night?” Our eyes conveyed all he needed to know. The disappointment in our faces was visible despite our Covid masks hiding our expressions. The shopkeeper decided to impart some friendly Icelandic wisdom. “Think like an Icelander”, he said, “don’t expect to see the lights. Take the pressure off your trip, enjoy the journey not the destination. There is a wonderful walk that takes about an hour and a half along the coastline. Tonight, take a late night stroll together and enjoy the journey. I have a good feeling for you.” Fully endorsing the Icelandic expression of ‘þetta reddast’ meaning ‘it will all work out ok in the end’, we decided to take his advice and at midnight we wrapped up warm and set off on our own journey of discovery. It had already been snowing for a couple of hours and several inches carpeted everything around us. Surrounded by a beautiful sparkling winter wonderland with no one else around it felt as though the world was all ours. With the wind behind us, we easily walked to the Grotto lighthouse and as we turned to head home, the snow whipped into our faces stinging our cheeks. Of course, there were to be no Northern Lights tonight. It was far too cloudy but after a return walk of 6 miles walking along the snow-covered streets of Reykjavik at 2.30am it had been a wonderful adventure. Waking up the next day our walk felt as though it was our own secret. If we hadn’t have spoken to the shop owner we wouldn’t have witnessed the beauty of a snow-covered Reykjavik as all the snow had melted by the rain and the warmer temperatures. How the weather varies hour by hour in Iceland! However there was one more discovery in store for us this trip. The Sky Lagoon; a new luxury geothermal spa retreat which I can only describe as being one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Greeted with this message on arrival in the reception, “Embrace the day, then set it free…”, it set the tone for what was to come. A journey of discovery in seven steps. Seven steps that you might apply to other situations. For the first step, I was told to ‘slow down’ and enter the lagoon. As I waded down the steps into the crystal clear hot water, volcanic black rocks rose up all around me. Following the curve in the rocks I turned the corner, through the water vapour was an expanse of water that appeared to be infinite. It was the ingenious design of an infinity pool where the luxurious lagoon merged seamlessly with the North Atlantic Ocean. Leaving the warmth of the waters, the second step was to ‘cool down’. I plunged into ice water. Step three was to ‘relax with a view’ in a hot sauna with the most spectacular view of the ocean and distant mountains. Weighing two and half tons it is the largest pane of glass ever installed in Iceland. Step four was a cool mist promised to ‘refresh the senses’ which it indeed did. Step five, I applied a mineral scrub to ‘renew myself’ to prepare for step six which would ‘hydrate every pore’ in the steam room. After a shower to rinse off the scrub I slipped back into comforting warmth of the glorious lagoon to complete step seven to ‘return and reconnect’. Sipping a glass of sparkling wine, I relaxed back in the deep set carved out volcanic seats and looked out towards the sea and the mountains. My mind focused on discovery and the many stories that have been shared on Focus on WHY. So many guests have spoken about their own journeys of self-discovery on the podcast; a timely episode this week as Tom White spoke of his Voyage of Discovery in episode 227. Others which sprung to mind included Matt Horder, Sonya Morton-Firth, Devan Bailey, Alex Staniforth, Cat Settle, Nick Bradley, Martin Morrison, Caroline Strawson and Sylvia Baldock to name just a few. "And there was suddenly Oprah saying, don't worry about being successful, work towards becoming significant. So that started me off on a journey of discovery." Sylvia Baldock I also reflected on episode 135 Be More Red with Mel Sherwood, where Mel introduced the concept of how to apply The Red Effect, how to choose your own unique shade of RED each year. For 2020, Mel chose Real, Expressed and Daring and for 2021 she selected Recognition, Expansion and Delegation. What three words would I choose to be my guide for 2021? Radical, Enthusiastic and Discovery. I reminded myself that you choose how you feel. Our midnight walk had been a bit radical, enthusiastic and had certainly sought out discovery. A missed opportunity had led to many great personal learnings which in itself was a great discovery. Often in life we set out with a clear purpose and a plan and we get distracted by setbacks, obstacles, disappointments or disasters. However it is the combination of desire, purpose, persistence and determination that is all powerful. Our final night in Iceland was our last opportunity to catch the dancing magical lights but the pressure was now completely lifted. Our desire to see the Northern Lights remains. We will return having fully adopted the Icelandic mindset. For us the journey of discovery continues as a Reykjavik street mural served as a fabulous reminder, “isn’t it our job as humans to be collecting great moments?”
ACTION POINT What discovery have you encountered this week? What great moments have you collected?