My first time in Alaska was in 2016. That trip was focused on competing in the Highland Games world championship. Even then, I knew this area had something special that would require a second visit.
For those who have never visited the great North, it is something to be experienced. Everyone has a different flavor of earth they are attracted to. I love the wild landscapes. Being immersed in this environment makes me think about the history of people who have embraced this challenging environment for hundreds or even thousands of years.
There has to be such a resilience built into their genes. A life that without a doubt came with daily struggles only to maintain the basic needs to survive. This has slipped from modern life quite a bit. It makes it very easy to bitch about the inconvenient contemporary existence, the improperly cooked food, the lines for fuel, or even about the mattresses that are anything short of perfect.
It is really easy to get caught in this trap.
As humans without struggle and problems, we will still find them and quickly forget about the gratitude that should come with a life filled with only “first world problems.”
This reframing helps me take advantage of the comfortable life I have built. It’s only been about a hundred years in the US that life has provided us with so much comfort. We’re now noticing the giant hole in our lives that challenge needs to fill.
We now have a chance to pick and choose our struggles.
I recommend doing this through physical struggle. We have seen through countless studies how exercise, outdoor time, and green spaces impact our well being. Our brains and bodies are incredible machines that have the ability to adapt to whatever stimulus we consistently expose ourselves to. Without this stress and discomfort, we start lacking a sense of fulfillment. We don’t get a happy abundant life.
In the same way, hardship makes simple pleasures great rewards again. Don’t believe me? Do a few hours on a bike and finally get to quench your thirst. I have had some great drinks that have come out of hose pipes and streams. I have had better nights of sleep on the ground after an exhausting adventure than I have had in my mattress and bed that we spent thousands of dollars on.
Alaska has not disappointed in the least on this adventure. Waking up to three inches of snow on the bank of the Nenana River brought us out into a brand new world. One where the sense of magic about this planet has been returned to us, realizing that we are small and this planet has no obligation to make our lives great or even comfortable. Wild places like this still exist, operating just fine at the same time electric cars, cloud storage, and temperature cold control exists.
I recommend taking a break from civilization to learn what you can from existing on the fringe for a bit.
We need both sides of the coin in our lives. Good and bad. Struggle and comfort. Happy and sad. Without the hard, there isn’t gratitude for easy.
Without fasting can you appreciate a simple meal the same? If you don’t choose your struggles and discomfort, life will inundate and overwhelm you. Choose to do harder things instead of waiting for hard times to find you unprepared. I say “FUCK WAITING ON THE COUCH FOR THE CHALLENGE AND STRESS TO FIND YOU. GET OUT AND DO HARD THINGS THAT PUSH YOUR LIMITS.”
ALASKA, thanks for the reminder that I am always at the mercy of the universe. Thanks for making me better and shifting my perspective. Thanks for a week of my life that will never blend into another memory.
1172 this marble was well spent.