Saturday, July 21, 2012
Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog and supported me these past 2 months! Thank you to all the people I met, worked with, and chatted with. You all have taught me some amazing life lessons and reminded me of other important ideals. I cannot express my gratitude enough for this opportunity and I am so blessed to have received the chance to spend my summer in such a breathtaking place. Thank you to the Alumni Association, CILSA, and Daybreak for helping support this opportunity! Alaska you have taught me well and I am ever so grateful!
Lessons learned in Alaska-
Hiking by yourself can be a therapeutic endeavor, but you need to know the trail and have the right precautions (hello bear bell!).
Hiking in the rain and mud is not fun by yourself.
The views are always worth the hike and the longer and harder the hike, the better the view, usually.
Time is relative here. The extended sunlight throws off your internal clock so you’re eating dinner at 9 pm. It truly helps you appreciate the amount of sunshine they get and when the days become shorter, it is a visible and quick change.
While they don’t have rattlesnakes or huge spiders up here, there are moose and bears to contend with and the bears and moose usually win, be vigilant and loud so you don’t surprise a wild animal by accident.
All people do not have equal opportunity and therefore are unable to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”. Sometimes they don’t even have boots, and because of this, they require assistance from their fellow human beings.
When you get to the top of hike, you feel like you’re on top of the world and that is the most amazing feeling ever.
Working with clients requires patience and a touch of grace-something that the case managers have excess of. They’re able to work with clients who need the most help without being condescending.
The word “hospitality” is taken literally here and people go above and beyond expectations. Not only friends that I have met, but friends of friends’ parents, the waitress in the diner in Juneau, the other Washingtonians who were looking for a bite to eat, the random barista at a coffee shop. They all took the time to ask me about myself and then share their own story. They offered advice and tips on places to eat or go. They opened their homes and tables to me even if they had never met me before that night. It’s a true spirit of generosity that has a “pay it forward attitude”, giving back to newcomers just as they were welcomed.
Alaska has beauty that transcends anything I have ever seen before. It goes past any man made structure, no matter the history behind it, because of the naturalness and wildness of the state. As the peaks disappear into the usual cloud cover or on a rare clear day, as they loom over you, you realize the greatness and vastness of this place. It reminds us of the awesomeness of creation and how we fit into that creation.
Alaska taught me an approach to love-of oneself, others, and the world. It is an authentic kind of love that stems from not only recognizing and accepting each other, but embracing each and every one of us for our flaws, attributes, and potential. It involves seeing the human connection we all share and wholly embracing that and what it means for our relationships with each other.
Alaska has taught me to be thankful-for my personal blessings in life, physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally-for the world I get to explore, the trails, oceans, and valleys-for others and the impact they can play in my life, teaching lessons and giving their personal gifts.
I was reminded of the beauty of humanity and nature and the importance of living a life that reflects that beauty as best I can.
In Alaska, talking to strangers (with some precaution) is how you make friends. You will see the same people hiking on various trails and start to build a community with them.
My hope in the good of humanity has been rejuvenated. Sometimes we lose that ideal in the fast paced society and forget the connections we have with other people. Here I have seen people wholly welcome me into their home for dinner after knowing me a matter of hours. I have witnessed the honesty and determination of the employees of Daybreak. I have heard the kind words spoken to others on the street or people that they know. It is an authentic and wholesome environment that reminded me that people are good and they crave the relationship with others that is so often starved in our individualized world.