Lofoten Islands · Norway
Seven days and nights of broken sleep culminated in spectacular fashion on the rocky shores of Vik Beach, where the Northern Lights put on a grande finale that would put any Independence Day fireworks display back home to utter shame. And in stark contrast to the bombastic affair that assaults American airwaves (and our poor furry companions) every 4th of July, this was a soundless pyrotechnics show in a wordless dream, the sporadic oooohhs and aaaaahhs and holy mackerels of me and my tripmates notwithstanding. Although this was our fourth night with skies clear enough for us to witness the phenomenon, you never really build up any antibodies to the thrill of glimpsing that first hint of light that makes you whisper to yourself, Is that it? Is it happening? Oh God, I hope this is it! And like a generous answer to an unspoken prayer, the sky above your head is suddenly transected by a writhing plasma-green snake, and you crane your neck in a joint-popping 180-degree arc in a futile attempt to take it all in.
It’s there in those disequilibrating moments when you’re unequivocally reminded that you're little more than a molecule in a grain of sand on the shore of a vast beach agitated by the restless ebb and flow of an infinite ocean. It’s there, too, swallowed up whole in the deep cloak of night when you come to realize just how pointless an exercise it is trying to tease out the 'true' substance of reality from the ether of your dreams. Because whichever the case, it all follows the same script: Your soul weighs anchor, the sails unfurl and billow, and you trust your faith to see you safely through the darkness. Just as it always has.