Monday, August 24, 2015

Falling in Love

There are cruise ships lining the docks here in Juneau. Cars crowd the downtown streets of what most people would likely consider a small town (which feels enormous to me). Everywhere I look I see cell phones, I hear them bringing, dinging, buzzing, with insistent fury; I realize that the world hasn't changed that much in the two months that I was on Strawberry Island, but maybe I have?

The ground beneath our feet is a character in this life. The ground on Strawberry Island is uneven and rocky; I had to be careful and attentive every moment there lest I fall. Similarly, the four other people who shared the island with me were in a state of change, themselves seeing new things on unsteady feet. The glorious feeling of engaging your body so as not to fall over -- like learning to stand on your head or ride a bicycle -- this, in my mind, is what it feels like to fall in love with a place.  When after days, weeks, months, of feeling deliciously off balance, everything for a moment quiets in balance.

I am off balance again. Navigating a loud world. I am reaching far into myself to find empathy for each tourist I see. I am envisioning the potential joy they will have here in Alaska, I'm trying to see merit in their adventure... but today this is hard for me.

My heart is heavy, and I feel alone in this strange flood of consumer need.  I feel far away from my safe tent (where the only voices I could hear were of friends or animals). Where if I needed a hug or a hand to hold I knew where to go (it wasn't far). Where there was always a rock on the beach to lean against, a whale to listen to, and a meaningful task to be done.

This will get easier, but today it is hard. I will keep that.