The most violent loneliness is preferable to the most numb and superficial sense of inclusion; like a blizzard in Indianapolis, that feeling is real and palpable and will yield to something different, if only you keep driving.
In a way, it is a refreshing feeling to be constantly aware of your surroundings, to know what it is you are most afraid of. To have a common fear with all fellow men, to have a lingua franca that everyone speaks about dangers and preparations and the haughty laughs we must have if we are to survive it at all. In the Yukon, everyone has a bear story or ten. In Alaska, people speak more in “how bad” bears are than whether there are bears at all.
I am fascinated by our variable tolerances; when it comes to solitude, silence, loneliness, or discomfort, we react violently and immediately. When it comes to monotony insidiously creeping in, we
As time passes, I am stricken by many things: the urgency a brush with death places upon us. Our ability to normalize and gloss over such a traumatic experience in order to ‘move on.’ The way survival is so fickle and random that it can all feel very pointless or extraordinarily meaningful. The difference a day makes.
Any time someone takes a real, human risk and shares real feelings, answers the question “How are you?” with something other than “I’m good, and you?” they open themselves up
We gradually fade from sharp-toothed puppy to hyperactive youngin’ to sleeping eighteen hours a day, and as is the nature of existing, we only really notice our most current state of being. A senior dog fades into the background and then occasionally surprises us with a half snarl or a flash of the spunk that used to wear us down through sheer quantity of energy. An old friend falls through the cracks as we see enough glimpses of them looking happy on the internet that we forget to check in and actually talk. The best moments of our life slowly fade into the shadows until we neither remember nor forget them; they are simply there until a tragedy brings them into high relief and we remember them wistfully.
If there is one thing I have learned in more or less the last calendar year, it is that we are at our best when we can hold our own worst thoughts and fears in our hands at arm’s length and stare at them until they look less ugly and less daunting; less like shackles and more like spurs.