I should tell you now, before I forget, about the color green. I should tell you about its radiation after a long day of rain, how you won’t believe how vibrant the color can be, how consuming it is to the human eye in the center of the Alaskan tundra.
I should tell you about living in a tent, how I haven’t slept indoors for months and doing so seems stuffy now, seems constricting now. Or how the cold and the midnight sun don’t seem to bother me like I thought they would, they’re just manifestations of our environment. And sometimes, when the eagles get chatting earlier in the morning than usual, I’m forced to get up and watch the turquoise river before I make breakfast.
I should tell you about the feeling I get here, I should try to put in words this calm I’ve never known before. I should tell you how my best self is here, in the mountains, or next to the two a.m. campfire, or in the trees, or sitting on that old dock. I should tell you that my best self is quiet, isn’t caught up in the trivial, isn’t waiting for someone to notice, isn’t looking to prove anything. My best self is working on forgiveness, and its many false peaks. My best self knows how to live with very little, and be thrilled about it. And I wish I could bring you here to meet her, the me that doesn’t need to explain myself, the me that wants to hike all day and laugh all night and can’t stop thinking of short story ideas. I should tell you about the me that isn’t afraid to leave here, the me that knows what I’ve learned here can come with me, the part of me that knows that minimalism and fearlessness can rest in your pocket until old age.
I should tell you about the tree line, how on rainy mornings it peeks through the mist standing defined and uninterrupted. And all about those daunting peaks, their rocky ridges mocking the folks tied to the ground, and inviting those of us with unsatisfied feet.
While I’m at it, I’ll tell you about the feeling I think you can only get on top of a tall mountain, the feeling that you owe everything to the sky and that landscape, the feeling that you have discovered the first source of man’s pride, conquering the looming stone.
I should tell you about Alaska, and the time I flipped a coin and decided to move here for the summer, knowing nobody and nothing, armed only with curiosity and good boots. About the people who made me a smile wider than my cheeks, and their tendency to love without question, to do all they can to make the day brightest. The people who carry everything they’ve got on their backs and don’t live within their intimidation, within their understanding. The people who know how to find a new trail up the mountain and who know how to make every cup of coffee a revelation. I should tell you about the kind of people who live in tents in Alaska, how they fashion altars out of tree stumps, how that taught me the importance of finding something worth giving yourself to.
I should tell you that I don’t fear things like I used to. How the unknown has become a need, how you can live a life you don’t have to escape from, how you can make a home out of anything, how the color green can become thrilling, and you can become someone you admire.