Iceland Eyes

Established 2004 ~ All photos and text by Maria Alva Roff unless otherwise noted.


This is one of my all-time favorite photos because our Óðinn looks so absolutely happy. It's not new, though with the weather as it was today I'm sure this hot pool at Nauthólsvík was just as packed with bodies basking in the spring sun. I posted this first in 2010, and what I wrote then is just as applicable now:

 Today is a perfect day to follow our bliss, and to begin in the middle, where we stand, centering ourselves for the start of a new era. We turn our faces to the sun and, like children, bask in the beautiful and glistening now. 

We were all little once, learning and exploring and laughing and crying and loving. I like to remember that when I think I've become too sucked in to the adult world, with all our rules and politics and greed and machinations and righteousness. At those times I try to imagine the grownups I'm dealing with as four year olds, innocent and hopeful, and it never fails to make me smile* : )

*As a matter of fact, the Kid Snippets video series pretty much nails it - if you haven't seen their episodes yet, you definitely have to check it out. 


If you've been reading Iceland Eyes for a while now, you'll know that I have a thing for pics of construction, and for how we're constantly digging down to the bedrock here on Þingholt then filling in the holes again. Some call it progress, others call it profitable, and still others say it keep the economy rolling by creating jobs.

Sometimes, not always, though it tends to look a lot like endless busy work, with men (and a few women) milling around a construction site with unseen purpose, in their orange outfits and hardhats and steel-toed worker boots. Sometimes they man jackhammers or diggers, and sometimes an electric saw can be heard from outside the perimeter fences of the construction site. But mostly it's as if by magic that, months later, a road is drivable again, or a building (sometimes tasteful, sometimes not) appears where the chaos of that gaping hole once was.

To turn this into a metaphore, it seems we're all being asked to dig to our own personal bedrock these days, to find our truths and discover who we'd like to be in the blueprint of our future. Like the Heart Park, which so many of us loved for the few seasons it existed, but which had been neglected along with many of the buildings surrounding it (purposely or not), sometimes we need to find the courage to let the familiar deconstruct, exposing our core foundation so that we can allow something new to come in its place. How much do we control the rebuilding of our lives? That I don't know, and I guess the answer depends on what your personal (spiritual) beliefs are.

What I think I understand, though, is this: our futures are constructed by all the small decisions we make each day. Those decisions are our building materials, and they can either have or lack the integrity to create a life structure of beauty, longevity and personal worth. Our constructs will be affected by the external unknown, and by others over whom we have no control. And we are blessed to be able to, at each moment of our lives, choose how we'll interpret and interact with the outside world as it itself unfolds and grows.

I like to think a brick of courage has more lasting strength than one made of fear, and that humility makes a better, more flexible rebar (for example) than anger. I would like to decorate my life's structure with kindness and forgiveness and gentle love. Even if it takes longer for people to see what it is that I'm creating, and even if I lose myself sometimes in the chaos of living, crashing into others' constructs and definitions of rightness, even if parts of my personal structure are weak with ill-made choices, I hope that as a whole the life that I'm creating will be beautiful, and an integral part of this amazing society in which I've chosen to live.


I've been cruising through the Iceland Eyes archives lately and am truly realizing, ten years on, just how much content I've accumulated on this site. So much history and so many cool photos ( if I may say so myself  ~.^ ) describing a whole decade of life in Reykjavik! It's been really amazing witnessing and documenting the growth (and growing pains) of our city, now one of the most popular destinations in the world.

A few of my readers might remember this pic, first posted in March 2008. It's moments like these that really tap into the soul of this blog project for me ~ those normal, everyday scenes that have a little bit of humor and a lot of heart.

Here's what I wrote in the original post:

 Another wonderful Sunday down at the Zoo (Húsdýragarðinn) at Laugardalur... 

The days are getting longer at an amazing pace now. During the first week of March it's like an extra set of lights has been turned on in the heavens, and suddenly 7 a.m. is dawn and 8 o'clock still sees a hint of brightness on the horizon. By the equinox a few weeks from now we'll officially be out of the dark days and cruising slowly toward the eternal sunlight of summer. As I say every year, it's just as amazing each spring that summer will once again come round. 

Just waiting for the tulips...

If you haven't recently, give yourself a few minutes to do a random cruise through the past ten years of Iceland Eyes by visiting the 'You might also like...' photos below. Or you can select a month from the Archives at the very bottom of this page and take a little trip back in time. I think you'll enjoy it : )


Everything this represents...


Note: 88 ~ A Love Letter to an Island is now available as an ebook as well as in print. A few reviews:

"I love how you piece together different fields from science, daily life and the slightly supernatural areas into a coherent, involving description of life in this city." ~ Thomas Dähling

"Wow! All I can say is wow! Your book changed my life...When are you starting on the next one? ~ Guðmann Þór Bjargmundsson

"I'll just say that reading this slim volume is nothing like a genteel browsing through a personal memoir, it's more akin to diving into a psychological mælstrom. 'Alva' taps into some very deep primal forces in an internal monologue which takes place in the span of 88 days." ~  Professor Batty, Flippism is the Key.


On some evenings during long arctic sunsets, we look north out of the top-floor window of my parent's house and watch our local pyramid turn pink.


My last post was dedicated to Ukraine, and this one is dedicated to the island I'm living on. We've had so much muck expose itself in the past two weeks that it's like we're punch-drunk, reeling from being hit with some new scandal or exposed lie every single day. So many pointing fingers, so much name-calling, so many promises rescinded on. People who have stood tall for this or that important cause, and who have been lauded and even awarded for their efforts, are being labeled hypocrites, sometimes very rightly so. Slander suits are being waved about as threats from all angles, and 88% of over 1500 college teachers just voted to go on strike in two-week's time because of the current government's absolute unwillingness to match their salary levels with other government employees with comparable education and responsibilities (I should say our salary levels - I've been teaching English courses at a technical college for about 6 years now - but the college I teach at is a privately owned business and so we weren't involved in today's vote, which was for teachers employed by the state. We will vote next week...) It feels like we're so overwhelmed with indignation, disappointment, disillusionment and frustration that we might just explode. But who really has the energy left to do even that?

No, we're not in a dictatorship, we don't have guns pointing in our faces or stark, desperate food shortages. We're not being bombed or invaded, and we haven't even had any inclement weather to speak of for weeks. But because we're such a small population, and because we're basically all cousins, it always (as I've noted many times before in the past decade), always feels so much more personal when the dirtier side of politics, press and power are exposed. Shouldn't the 300,000 of us be able to manage living together on this lump of lava in some semblance of an ethical manner? We have such a great opportunity now to achieve great and lasting change in this country, to be a true model of cooperation and sustainability!

As always, I encourage you to go to Iceland Review and The Reykjavik Grapevine for more journalistic info on what's been going on here. And though we may not be on the top of the list of current dramatic world affairs, keep our little island in your prayers anyway, ok? Moving forward into a brighter future isn't always easy, and every good thought counts : )


A flower representing hope for peace for my readers in Ukraine. Our thoughts are with you...
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