From South to North

There’s always a certain amount of disbelief when hearing about things you didn’t actually experience yourself. The great unknown is followed by both our natural sense of curiosity, combined with a greater sense of fear. Fear; feeding time and killing possibility. It outweighs our hunger to experience anything new, to hunt for change, instead providing us with the perfect excuse to avoid that which is not known to us. And so, as is often the case with time, what felt like a fraction of a moment was, in reality, several long years before I was able to leave the cushion of my comfort zone to travel towards the Arctic Circle. Alone. The year I made the decision to leave was filled with new chances, opportunities and dreams, as much as the years before had been consumed by fear.

When I was younger, I spent my childhood summers at home in Croatia. Every day I went out to sea, relishing the early morning starts and soaking up the sounds and smells of my surroundings - lavender and rosemary perfuming the air, the gentle breeze carrying the tang of salt from the sea and the distant bleat of sheep echoing down from the slopes of the Velebit Mountains behind me. I would go down to the water and dive for hours, searching for shells and watching the fish dart away from me. I would sail my boat to the tiniest, loneliest bays, where there was a small house standing in front of a cluster of pine trees, behind clusters of bushes and gleaming white rocks dry under the hot summer sun. I would lie down and listen to the crickets and the swell of the water as it cascaded gently over the rocks. During these moments, I would forget the world and love life in a way I never thought possible. It was a feeling I resigned myself to never experiencing again, but I was wrong.

Many years later, almost twenty in total, it was as though a tiny stream in my mind had become a rushing river, roaring to be set free. There it was, the decision to step out of my constant, out of all I knew and into the world of freelance; leaving a blurry certainty for a clear unknown. I followed a strong and persistent desire towards something bigger than I could ever be and travelled North. When I first set foot onto Iceland and sensed the air, a thousand childhood memories rushed back through my mind, those blissful moments lying on the dry white rocks never forgotten, always there, hidden beneath the mundane of the everyday. The salty scent in the wind reminding me of all I had missed; that feeling of loving life to its fullest, of realising what it truly means to be alive, to be fortunate enough to be able to reach out for the unknown. I was alone, further north than I ever thought I would go, dreaming of travelling further still. What had started as a solo photography mission in my mind fast became my everyday reality, and the raw, untamed nature of Iceland whispered its secrets to me through the wind. Secrets I will take with me to my grave. 

Words & Photography by Ivan K Maras