Thursday, September 24, 2009

What next?

Well, this will be my last missive from good, ol’ Kansas. Friday afternoon this new, strange trip gets underway, and with a lot of family arriving in town tonight, I don’t think I will probably have time to get to this writing thing if I put it off until later. I'll do my best to post updates as I gradually make my way south over the coming weeks.

I finally got all my packages sent on their merry way yesterday. The kind folks at the post office seem to be getting used to me doing this, which in its own way was kind of cool. That is one thing I definitely like about living in a small town like this: it’s an actual community, where people interact with each other as something more than a moving obstacle and competitor for common resources. Is it perfect? In a word: no. No place ever was, is, or will be.

I’ve had many people ask me what I’m planning on doing when I get back as we’ve discussed the coming chapter of my life. I simply say that I have absolutely no idea, but that I’ll probably do a little traveling on the way back to the States. Where will I travel? I reply that I do not know that either, but if I haven’t been there I want to go. There is a lot of living to go on between now and next year, when I finally am in the position to start thinking about what work and recreation I would like to pursue once I leave the Pole. So much of the last nine months involved accepting the world as it is, and trying to do the best with what options were actually available. Some things can’t be rushed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that waiting patiently for future to become present heralds defeat. Reconciling oneself to the immediate living conditions is a big contributor to making a successful year in an isolated place like Antarctica, or wherever you happen to be. I look forward to what the coming year may hold, but will do my best not to get hung up on expectations I might have about how I would like it to transpire.

As I bid farewell to the familiar faces and places of home, I know they may not look or act the same when I get back. Some things might not even exist the next time I am back in this part of the world. People change. Places change. All things wink in and out of existence on their own timelines. The only constant is the ineluctable, unceasing flux of life. Where once was an inland sea, now there is the last real bastion of tall grass prairie on the continent. We only see the stony, skeletal remains of things (like these crinoids, fossilized plant stems) from this bygone era.

A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.
~Frank Herbert (Dune)

I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.
~Joseph Campbell

"Was it pretty? Your country. . .your land?" "It was beautiful," the gunslinger said. "There were fields and forests and rivers and mists in the morning. But that's only pretty. My mother used to say that the only real beauty is order and love and light."
~Stephen King, The Gunslinger

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