The Ambivalence of Writing, and of Chasing the Midnight Sun

Traveling inspires, at least in me, writing. I’ve been putting fingers to the keyboard (a contemporary substitute for the almost archaic, if graceful, pen-to-paper) regularly. Making mnemonic notes for extensive expansion to come, composing paragraphs of observations and of the somewhat more exalted things called reflections and thoughts. Yet little of it has seen the light of the blog, as I have dual progeny in the ongoing process of being born, which have nonetheless become my instantaneous and at least partly conflicting masters. DSC00408_DxOSarah and I set out on our adventure with the purpose of writing books, one by her and one by me, very different in character, each possible only through this long journey. More on them in a moment. We also set out committed to the writerly experiment of this let-the-spirit-move-us collaborative blog, which includes Gideon, who, I hope, will make his entry here soon and thereafter frequently. For Sarah and for me (about Gideon, who also has other writing projects, I’m not sure), the question of what goes where is live, and, at least for me, has not been resolved clearly. DSC00407Roughly speaking, my schema is to offer you accounts and observations about the world out there which we encounter on our carefully chosen itinerary of barely scratching the world’s surface, even with a year of scratching at our disposal. The inner workings and inter-workings of the three of us – what it is like to travel with two loved ones for a year, and how the many and ongoing encounters with one another and with the offerings and demands of the world we will wend our way through affect and change us as individuals and in our relationships as parents and child, as married people, as individuals positioned differently in the ever-changing arrays of living – these things about us are the stuff and soul of the book. The rub might be obvious: the line, actually lines demarcating what’s out there from what’s in here (the family circle and each of our minds and hearts) is hard to draw, especially as the inside is implicated in the outside, most essentially because both constitute and are filtered through experience, thought, and language. (Taking and posting photos – Sarah’s and Gideon’s domains – are more clear cut.) So, deciding what’s in and out of the blog, because what constitutes the in(side) and the out(side) of the respective worlds we are living and seeking to understand is often indeterminate, is an ongoing and inherently messy and probably shifting process which I am negotiating with that very tough and a bit ambivalent negotiator, myself. As to the other negotiator involved here, I think less beset by this manner of thinking, I’ll leave it to her to engage her blog/book issues herself.

DSC00412_DxOLofoton, above the Arctic Circle in midnight summertime sun Norway, was a spectacular place to begin our journey. The breath-taking and -giving monumental landscapes, which can be imaginatively discerned well enough through the miniaturized photos (which I expect Sarah will happily insert), as a undulating symphony of approachable mountains and hills, and lakes and fjords. We drove for hours through it at nearly every hour of the 24-hour day, including 1 in the morning, 5 in the morning, 9 in the evening, 11 in the evening and the more conventional sightseeing times in-between. Riveted and scanning, still and pointing, quiet and in full conversation (see shadows above), we drove, we walked, we looked, we breathed, we experienced Lofoton. For two days our ordinary rhythms of sleeping and waking, eating and… we cast asunder. We walked (see Gideon, double above), we hiked (straight up a small mountain nearing midnight), we drank coffee outdoors in the just warm enough weather, as we lived according to our own time- and activity-wants. We valiantly twice tried to see the sun at solar midnight descend, bounce, and rise slightly above the horizon, and failed for differently reasons. The attempts felt (in our exaggerating subjectivity) near-heroic, so we, the reasonable agents we are, felt disappointed yet satisfied that we had done our best. And so, we have yet another reason to return to Lofoton, to find and follow the midnight sun.

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–Danny, 19 July 2017

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