‘That’s a very interesting question, but first I’m going to sing,’ says Angaangaq, the Inuit shaman sitting across from me. We are sitting on the tundra’s dry grass, wrapped up in warm clothes against the icy wind. In the background the branches of the Greenlandic ice sheet shimmer in the afternoon sun. The fifteenth interview of my worldwide quest for answers is something completely different compared to the encounters I have had with visionaries, scientists, economists and activists. His singing pierces my heart, pierces my soul.
‘Melt the ice in your heart.’ This is the message of the Greenlandic shaman Angaangaq. Nice slogan, I thought at first. Many marketing experts would have wished they’d come up with that. But as soon as I arrive in Greenland I discover that it is anything but a slogan: I take part in one of the ceremonies the shaman holds ‘on top of the world’, a spiritual session to melt the ice in your heart and reconnect with the earth. During this meet-up, taking several days, we often walk in silence. On these many silent walks my heart hurts. I constantly feel my tears coming, as if I’m a lake of meltwater that is about to overflow. I feel naked, vulnerable. What is this shaman doing? My confused thoughts go around in circles while I try to understand what is going on, but Angaangaq just smiles at me supportively. ‘Just feel, my young one.’ No easy task for someone who wants to know everything, who wants to understand every detail of everything. So a couple of minutes into the interview I transform into the Serious Interviewer, but the shaman doesn’t accept that. ‘While I give you my answer, your head is already thinking about the next question, and the next. Let it go. All answers already exist in your heart. What do you want to ask me?’
For weeks I read all books and articles and watched all documentaries I could find, I meticulously prepared the interview topics and color-coded the questions to remember their importance and order. I checked my previous interviews and listened again to my reflections. I did everything I could to add the last and crucial pieces of the answers to my story, to complete the message of my book and documentary, to… well… The honest answer probably is: to protect myself from criticism, skepticism, rejection and everything else I fear now my three-year-long quest is coming to an end and I’m about to go out into the world with my insights. What if nobody is interested in what I have to say? What if people rather keep on blaming the oil companies? What if all they want to do is screw in a low-energy light bulb and be done with it? What if they just don’t feel like listening to this young woman confronting them with their own impact, their own responsibility in this world?
Angaangaq looks at me with his friendly, understanding eyes. I put my list of questions down. ‘How… can I help people?’ I ask from my heart. ‘Speak from your heart. The only thing you have to do is touch and embrace the other.’ ‘I am afraid, Angaangaq,’ I say more honestly than I’ve ever been. It feels like all my layers have been stripped off, until only an essence remained that I didn’t even know existed. ‘Remember that nothing changes if you keep on giving those interesting talks, with everybody applauding for that young woman with those beautiful insights.’ He looks at me affectionately, but piercingly. ‘Accept your own beauty, don’t be shy and get going. Conquer the world and tell everybody your story.’