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Centering for the soul

I came upon two school children in a secluded corner at the National Museum of Iceland intently studying their chess moves. Perhaps, they took a break from touring the exhibits in a quiet area or came there purposely to their favorite couch to get that promised match in before the holidays. I hurried past and let them ponder checkmate peacefully.

Nordic splendor is celebrated daily in Rejyakvik, Iceland's capital city, by a passionate citizenry going about their business wrapped in down coats and sporting sensible boots.

Winter is lengthy, and people adapt in Northern climates. Almost every schoolyard I passed in Iceland, children bundled in snowsuits played on the equipment and squealed like contented little munchkins. I couldn't help walking away with a smile on my face, too, and wishing for a slice of their energy.

It's not unusual in coffee shops or bookstores to find patrons engaged in a board game or discussing the plot of a book with anyone sitting nearby over a cup of coffee. Or merely prolonging a conversation waiting out the sudden downpouring of ice pellets.

Everything is not perfect. Indeed, a portion of Icelandic people pine away the long hours of darkness drinking, and perhaps, the weather accounts for more than the average number of depressions, too.

The human mind doesn't discriminate when it comes to searching for centering. This rang out loud and cleared when COVID shutdown the world back in the late winter, and people retreated into their homes and apartments.

The bright, creative, and imaginative folks struggled with keeping focused. Many a writer had a mental block that stopped them in their tracks for weeks. Those who typically get bored became independent handy people fixing plumbing around the house, learning to make sourdough bread, and embracing the outdoors. Those who learned coping techniques fared the best.

Now that a spell of winter isolation will be upon us once again, I reckon that the chessboard and the snowshoes will come out of the closet. And the Icelandic schoolboys will be competing at a higher level.

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