Alaska; The Deeper Journey

This is a momentous year in my life. On June 12th, I turned 60, thus catapulting me deeper into AARPdom than I ever thought possible. Don’t get me wrong, I am not upset or undone about getting older. I am not viciously hanging on to my 30’s, 40’s or even 50’s, it just that this aging process all seems to happen so fast. SO, in preparation for the next decade of my life, I decided I really wanted to go to Alaska. Not a roughing it, camping-type going to Alaska, but more of a cruising, 5-star dining way of going to Alaska with my husband and two of my dearest friends.

The choice was Italy or Alaska and I could not at the time tell you why Alaska was the obvious choice; I know now. Alaska, even buffered by big ships, good friends and comfortable quarters touches you in a way that feels like you are entering your soul. The quiet is quieter, the cold is cleaner, the wild is wilder; there were actually moments when I swear I could hear Alaska breath.

Awe is an amazing thing; it opens me, makes me tenderer — or perhaps just reveals the tenderness that is already there. Alaska is awesome. And, in the midst of this awesomeness —glaciers, great bald eagles, whales and seals — a movie took me to my knees.

Half way through the trip we arrived in Juneau, a stunning town set into the side of steep mountains at the water’s edge. In Juneau, there is a cable car owned by the Tlingit Indians. This cable car took us straight up Mt. Roberts, literally through the clouds to the very top. The top of the mountain provides an opportunity to see spectacular views of Juneau and the waterway that sailed me in and out, to observe wild life from a distance and get up close to a bald eagle that is recovering from an injury. The seminal moment for me was the opportunity to meet the Tlingit Indians and to see the movie they had produced chronicling their history — Seeing Daylight. The length of this movie was only about 25-minutes long, but almost as soon as it began, I started to cry and could not stop until it was over. A deep sadness enveloped me that felt both old and new and tender. The spectacular freedom of this tribe, their fall and subjugation, and then a change in consciousness that allowed them to go on and live within the new structure touched me deeply. It touched the part of me that was getting older, the part that grieves loss and a part that goes on and faces the NOW of who and where I am. I guess I did see the light; the macrocosm of history with these Indians mirrored a microcosm in my life and the lives of those I work with as well. WE are all the Tlingit trying to navigate the impermanence of our existence with fluidity and grace.

Although, I didn’t need to go to Alaska to have a great epiphany, it was well worth the journey.

Category : Insights &Uncategorized Posted on July 20, 2010

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