Category Archives: Learning

We started at the Arctic Circle

Well, we really started with our list of things we absolutely had to do before we die. The current buzz word is “bucket list,” but that is just flat-out too cliche for me. Regardless, Al and I spent some time considering the reality of how many summers we have left of adventure travel, and how we want to spend them.

This trip to Alaska was at the top of both of our lists, and while there wasn’t too much adventure involved, we did the grand sweep of Alaska and found out what we want to go back for. And boy oh boy, will we be back.

While trying to arrange the trip myself, there were just too many possibilities, so we put ourselves in the most capable hands of Alaska Tour and Travel.  They were quite amazing, and with one small exception, everything they set out for us to do was spot on. I even argued with them about the twelve hour (!) tour to the Arctic Circle, but they assured me we would enjoy it. They were right.

So we started in Fairbanks, and spent an afternoon in the amazing Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The next day, we flew an hour and half or so in kind of a rickety 1980 Piper Navajo bush plane with a pilot that seemed a little too casual, but landed safely in Coldfoot. There we met our tour director, Barbara, and the five of us drove 10 hours back to Fairbanks. 

What a great trip. We inspected the pipeline, met strange and wonderful people, watched the sunset from the Yukon River, saw caribou, moose, a lynx, gorged on wild blueberries and most of all, luxuriated in the vastness of a wilderness so immense it’s hard to grasp.  The fall colors were breathtaking.

Even the aurora came out and gave us an incredible show from Joy, Alaska, where we stopped for late-night coffee. There were only five of us in the little van, including Barbara, the tour guide, who had just retired from the UAF, and she was very smart about everything. The Haul Road (Dalton Highway, built to build the pipeline 30+ years ago) is not for the faint of heart, as we drove 230 miles on this dusty gravel road with gigantic semis zooming past throwing rocks as big as my fist.

An amazing adventure. I don’t need to go this far north again (although Al would like to traverse the Brooks Range and go all the way to Prudhoe Bay), but I’m glad I saw it. There’s nothing quite like walking on tundra (it’s like walking on a trampoline) and getting the whole story from a woman who majored in soils management. What a day.

Next: Denali National Park.

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Filed under Fall, Learning, Possibilities, Vacation

Anger and Resentment

I’m learning a lot about anger and resentment at Serenity Lane.

Holding a resentment, I heard, is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. So true. Resentment and anger is spirit poison, and the person toward whom we hold the resentment can be going on about their life, blissfully ignorant of the evil intentions we brew in our hearts. Who does that hurt?

I learned long ago that all resentment and anger stems from one thing: fear.

And fear can only be one of two things: fear of losing something we have or fear of not getting something we want.

I don’t have any control over either of those things. What I get to keep and what I get to lose isn’t really up to me. I only have control over my attitude about it all.

So the old way of dealing with resentment and anger was either to engage and escalate, or to walk away and seethe. But now I know there is a third way. One can take a pause, discover how we’re threatened, and realize that it’s nothing to be afraid of.

Could this really be the key to world peace? First, we’re peaceful within our selves, then our families, then our communities, then our country, then our world?

It all begins with me. Today.

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Filed under Evil, Learning, peace, Resentment, Social Consciousness, Spirituality

14 Hours of Sleep

I’m finally caught up, but hoo boy, May was quite the month. It’s all over now, and I didn’t have the usual let-down migraine, for which I am very grateful. Fourteen hours of sleep cured much of the leftover exhaustion after a stressful time.

In May: We had a deadline to finish the remodel of the bathroom before guests arrived. We had the pretrip meeting here for the Ghosts at the Coast. We did Ghosts at the Coast. Family arrived, and more family arrived for a great reunion over Mother’s Day. I turned over the odometer yet one more time. I had a biopsy (negative). We went to Utah for a different family reunion to scatter my mother’s ashes (an event that went better than I could ever have dreamed, by the way, and left me with a warmth in my heart that I haven’t felt toward my family in a long time), and I finished a very introspective and emotional paper for school. Whew. That was my May. No wonder I’m tired.

And now I will do my sixty hour practicum and then take the summer off. I’ve not had a summer off since I was fifteen years old. This will be sweet. The garden will be a showplace.

And what have I learned in this process?

It’s all one day at a time.

Respond rather than react.

My attitude is the only thing I have control over.

Life is good.

More soon.

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Filed under family, family reunion, Gardening, Ghost Story Weekend, Learning

What is Forgiveness?

A friend of mine asked the other day, “What is forgiveness?”

I’m not sure I know the answer to that. The very next day, my brother asked essentially the same question.  We’ve all been told to “forgive and forget” but the truth is, forgetting is impossible. We always remember, learn, and guard ourselves against subsequent pain from that particular angle.

If forgetting is impossible, is forgiving impossible as well?

Today I have the tools with which I can be rid of a resentment. Is that the same thing as forgiving?

Is understanding the one who has hurt us the key to forgiveness? If we were to look upon that person as a very, very old parent might, would we see the one as a mere child, trying to find its way through the difficult morass of relationships? Can we forgive the indiscretions of youth–our own or others’?

Or perhaps forgiving means merely to show mercy. We’re all capable of that, even if we can’t forget. Even if we do guard ourselves against subsequent pain.

I have committed more than my share of youthful (and not so youthful) indiscretions, for which I have been shown more mercy than I deserve. Have I been forgiven?

I don’t know.

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Filed under Learning, Personalities, regrets, relationships

Asking the next question

Theodore Sturgeon, science fiction great and an old friend, used to wear jewelry that bore his personal symbol. It was a Q with an arrow through it, and it meant “Ask the next question.” To Ted, “What if?” was the only question a science fiction author needed to ask.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about asking questions. Keeping the dialogue going.

A rabbi spoke to our class last weekend about how Jews argue the Talmud. To me, and I daresay most Christians, once a religious argument begins, it marks the end of a friendship and the beginning of a new religious splinter group. But the Jews have been doing it successfully for years. When I asked him about that, he said, “If you stop asking questions, if you stop the dialogue, then you stop learning.”

A thunderous comment.

I’ve lived a lot of years, and done it successfully. Therefore, I think I know how to do life pretty well. This was the hardest part of learning to live with a new husband, as he had done life pretty well, too, with methods that are different from mine. His methods, in fact, are just as good as mine, and many of them are superior. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that, acknowledge it and respect his ways of doing things, as he has come to respect my procedures.

But for many things, I have to say, I’ve stopped the dialogue.

What a larger world I would have if I continued to dialogue about things I seem to have made my mind up about! What mind-blowing things await me, if only I will listen instead of speak.

I heard “Listening is love” the other day. Bumper sticker philosophy to be sure, and yet…  I like to be listened to. I like my unconventional ideas to be heard. I like to talk about my religious beliefs, my ideas for social reform, my political opinions. I would like to change a few opinions around me, yet I am unwilling to have my opinions changed. 

The very definition of stopping the dialogue.

If I want to continue to learn, then I need to engage in the dialogue. Today, tomorrow, and forever. I need to be open to having my opinions changed if I want others to be open about changing theirs.

I need to remember that we’re all made differently by design. If we all believed the same thing, there would be nothing to talk about. We’re different so we can engage in the dialogue.

Good for us.

Let’s do it.

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Filed under Learning