Since this is my last summer in Alaska, I have found myself wanting to experience as much of the state as I can before the opportunity is gone, which is how I found myself up in Tok, Alaska this weekend sitting at a restaurant called Fast Eddy’s surrounded by a curious mix of ragged travelers.
The parking lot is full of giant RV’s and dusty cars packed to the brim with camping and fishing gear and plenty of Canadian plates since we are less than 100 miles from the border of Yukon Territory. Over dinner I enjoy curly fries along with the eclectic mix of people as I wonder what their stories might be. It occurs to me as I sit there that with a move to Kauai planned, our time in Alaska is limited, and I may never be back by way of Tok again.
Remember this moment, remember this realized possibility, I keep saying to myself. Cherish it, for time is finite and this may be the only time you ever pass through this place.
It is a strange and curious thing to realize the limitations of time. When we are younger it all seems endless, spanning on towards forever. But as we get older we begin to realize there are some things we will never do again, some places we will not return to, some passages we will not retake.
I turn 39 this week and after losing my brother this past year, life has taken on a precious quality, I try and take little for granted. He never made it past 39 and, Life willing, I will. That means every step forward from here becomes a golden parachute, an unexpected opportunity that some people don’t have. Now I age for both him and myself, remembering that we were never promised tomorrow, just the space of today.
These days it is all a gift. All of it sacred. All of it a privilege to breathe and learn and grow and love and hurt and fail and find the joy. Of course there are the mundane moments: the moments of struggle and being human and having down seasons in life. But I am finding that even in these there is still something sacred to be found. That as long as we are here, there are always opportunities for the up seasons, always opportunities to grow from our experiences.
Losing my brother has taken away the assumptions about how life should look. I make plans as best I can, even as I accept that Life sometimes has its own plans that take us in another direction entirely. Trying to pretend we somehow have control is the equivalent of saying we can hold the sky in our grasp; it is but an illusion.
These days I continue to focus on the only thing I do have control over. My self. My heart. My thoughts. The state of my own internal affairs. I can’t change what has happened, but I can learn to make peace with what has come to pass.
Make peace with the part of myself who has this terrible wisdom that we were never really in charge to begin with. Make peace with the part of myself who has come to learn that death is just another door. Make peace with the part of myself that still rages and screams and howls at the moon over the unfairness of it all. Make peace with all the imperfect parts. Make peace with the parts who just want to find the love that binds it all together.
Make peace with the fact that balance is unobtainable, and the best I can do is learn to sink into and embrace wherever I should find myself on any given day.
Make peace with the fact that I was never promised life would look a certain way. I was only promised this chance to pass through this world at this particular point in time, so I could better learn about love.
These days I shake my head at all the sadness this world has to offer, open my heart to all the beauty there is to find. Make peace with all its parts. Remember we were never really in charge to start. Learn to accept the imperfections. Howl when it’s unfair, smile when it’s golden. Find the love that binds it all together. Learn to sink into and embrace whatever I find on any given day.
And on this weekend’s days I happen to find myself surrounded by acres of pines and rolling ridges and a silty river snaking its way through the cool of up north. Rain patters on our little orange tent as the dogs curl between our sleeping bags, and I fall asleep listening to the sounds of the water. For one night it is golden, and I find myself terribly limited, unable to hold onto all the beauty and love.
So I let it wash through me instead, snake its way through my heart like the cool river streaming nearby; polishing, eroding and changing my shape as water is want to do. Remember this moment, remember this realized possibility, I keep saying to myself. Cherish it, for time is finite and this may be the only time you ever pass through this place.
I want to hang onto the moment, keep it with me for as long as I can, but when the time comes to say goodbye, I let it go. Say goodbye to the space of today so I can move on to tomorrow. And in the end it doesn’t matter if I return this way or not- I’m staring 39 squarely in the eye and, Life willing, I have the golden parachute of moving forward.
It is more than my brother had, so I carry him with me as I go figuring as long as I’m moving forward, I really have all I need. We were never promised life would look a certain way, we were only promised a chance for today.
We are just passing through. Here to learn about Love.