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Epilogue

The night before we left Boston to spend a year on Rødøy, we got cold feet. Sitting among 6 giant duffle bags, we asked ourselves, “Why are we doing this?”

We had a good life and had no need to escape anything. Instead of staying on that path, I resigned from my job and we set off to live on a small island north of the Arctic Circle for a year, with nothing planned beyond the year. It was crazy.

That night, we proceeded to work out all the necessary steps to reverse course. Despite the last minute doubts, we stuck to the plan. And it turned out to be the best thing our family has ever done.

6 months after we came back from our year off, the children are happy and well adjusted socially and intellectually. Kristin is teaching part-time at a private school in nearby Cambridge, and she loves her job. The app I started writing, Voice Dream Reader, has acquired a passionate customer-base around the globe, reaching top 10 grossing educations apps at one point or another in 48 countries. That doesn’t make us rich, but we live comfortably while my work gives me profound satisfaction: I feel closely connected to my customers and I’m making a small but positive difference in their lives.

I’ve changed. I think. It’s difficult to tell because I’m hardly a neutral observer of myself. When I talked to companies about jobs after I came back, I smiled and nodded but my heart just wasn’t in it. Meanwhile, I kept going back to work on my app even when sales had not taken off, stubbornly tolerating being unemployed far longer than the old me would have. Perhaps, the knowledge that we could live happily with less gave me strength. At the same time, I’m a lot less stressed about things, and I sometimes find the level of stress around me incomprehensible. I’d like to think that I became a better person.

But even if we did not end up at a better place after the year, we would still do it again without hesitation. Because we had an amazing year that is a treasure of experience and memory. For that we’re deeply grateful to Rødøy and everyone there. For the rest of our lives, in good times and bad, this year will be a reference point for what life could be.

Here are the photographic highlights from our year living on Rødøy, and below are some representative blog posts:

Island Scenery

Fishing

Miscellaneous

Adjusting to Life at Home

The strangest thing about being home is how normal it all felt at first. After nearly 2 days of travel, a friend picked us up in our own minivan and we drove up Interstate 93 to go home. It felt like coming home after a 2-week vacation.
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The Last Hurrah

During these last two weeks, we were totally focused on getting the most out of our remaining time here. Thanks to our dear friends visiting us from America, we perhaps pushed ourselves further than we would’ve on our own, to experience, and to remember. When the sun is shining and the breeze gentle, I’m hard pressed to think of any other place I’d rather be. Here’s documentation.
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Happiness is People

After a year living on an remote island, I confess to having had no moments of epiphany. I haven’t made big, dramatic new discoveries about myself or the world around me. But if I have to point to one learning, the experience has helped me see more clearly that the most important thing in the world is to surround oneself with good people. Read more

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

On Saturday night, after all our guests have either retired to bed and left for home by boat, Kristin and I took the boat we borrowed out just a stone’s throw away so we could see the sun. It was 2:30 am, and the sun had already started its lazy flight up. The light was fairytale like. We turned off the engine and floated among sounds of seabirds and light breeze. Kristin said that if she died then, she would’ve been happy with all of it. Me, too. Read more

Fish Will Never Be the Same

The coming Saturday we are hosting a midsummer night party, and we will of course serve fish. In the last couple of days I did some intensive fishing, like a man on a mission. Yesterday I caught 6 big pollock. I will make Seilaks: salted, slightly dried pollock flavored with wood vinegar. We also have four salmon fillets hanging outside drying. I will cold smoke them tomorrow with juniper wood. Read more

Beach Camping under the Midnight Sun

We just came back from a weekend camping on a nearby island, all feverish from the sun, wind and the buzz of having picture perfect beaches all to ourselves for two days. Read more

One Month Left

It’s hard to believe that our year here is almost over. We booked our tickets to go back to Boston on July 12. Having flights booked — more than anything else — makes it real. So, to people here on Rødøy who wish us to stay for one more year, and to people back home who were afraid that we’d stay here: we are profoundly grateful for your sentiments. But we’re keeping our word. Read more

Happiness Experienced Versus Remembered

A friend of mine sent me a link to a lecture given by a Noble-prizing winning economist. The topic is happiness — yes, I’ve been into this topic on-and-off during my sabbatical. He talks about two different ways to look at happiness. When most people talk about being happy, or unhappy, they tend to be unclear about which kind of happiness they’re referring to. Read more

A Portrait of Spring in Macro

Spring is arriving slowly and torturously, even though daylight is back in abundance. Now the sky never gets black. There’s been flurries nearly everyday last week — this is the arctic circle after all. Today, I took the children hiking all day, and I also decided to try out my new macro photo equipment, Read more

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