After one missed flight, two days, and three plane rides, I am finally in Anchorage. I arrived yesterday afternoon overtired and underfed, and was greeted at the airport by my father’s long-time friends, Bill and Pat, who welcomed me and brought me to the Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria. There I ate a delicious pizza called “the backpacker” and had my first pint of a dark red Alaskan beer, brewed by the pub–It was the perfect post-travel meal.
Today we drove around Anchorage so I could get my bearings. It’s a big city (at least it is to a Vermonter). It is strange to see box stores and high-rises in “the last frontier”, though I admit that my eyes constantly drift even higher to the mountains that encircle the city. They remind me of the wild I expected to see. Oh, but expectations: I don’t want to have any.
When I studied abroad in Northern Ireland in the spring of 2008, I held many expectations, even unconscious ones, and found myself disappointed and frustrated because of them. Expectations took me away from the actual place I was in and caused me to look for what I envisioned instead of seeing what was actually there. This time, I want to see things fresh, to look upon a landscape with wonder and newness, although I know it is difficult not to have expectations, for they have a way of growing in the shadows of the mind where one rarely looks.
How do you free yourself enough to be able to enter each moment with the same freshness, with a clear mind, a wild heart, and an openness to accept all that is present? How many times do you have to travel and see a new place before you learn how to see it the first time in wholeness? Or does it take many moments, exploration and hidden spots uncovered to be able to see the whole? Perhaps the journey of learning how to view and live in wholeness is equally important as the attainment of it.
The whole of Alaska is not just the mountains and frontier, but it includes the cities and towns and people. Do these things infringe upon the wild or accentuate it? I have ideas about this, but I cannot truly answer this question until I spend more time here. So I will soak it up and fall into it. Alaska, I am yours. Take me into your terrain. Teach me. Show me. Help me see.