Thursday, February 14, 2013


My dreams howl into the core of my being, following me like a wolf on the tracks of its prey. They often seem far-fetched and unrealistic, these dreams, and I put them aside for more pressing, attainable goals: paying back student loans, pursuing a career, being a good daughter. But always my dreams linger on the periphery, the wolf at the edge of the firelight, moving through a landscape of swirling mist, changing shape, calling to me.

Sometimes my dreams make sense, coalescing into something I can reach for – an achievable goal, a certain place on the map. But more often they are simply images I've carried with me since childhood, vague and uncertain. When I was in fifth grade and had to choose anyone in the world to impersonate, I chose Dian Fossey, the gorilla researcher who gave her life fighting for conservation in Rwanda. That was the kind of life I wanted. I'd pore over photos of SCUBA divers swimming with manta rays and National Geographic explorers in Papua New Guinea. My make-believe games consisted of creeping stealthily along creekbeds or pretending the side of my house was El Capitan. But were there any children growing up in post-industrial America that didn't dream of being an explorers or rock climbers or SCUBA divers?

At some point, I shifted my focus north. I devoured books about Alaska, homesteaders striking it out in the last frontier, dog sleds and moose carcasses and detailed descriptions of sewing mukluks and chinking cabins. My greatest dream became to be self-sufficient somewhere in those distant reaches, to live a life worth writing about.

And then I went to college, became saddled with debt and had to find a steady paycheck to cover the bills. The same old story. It happens to everyone; fantasies inevitably become squelched beneath the realities of life. Stubborn or immature or both, though, I've had a hard time letting go. I travel and live in rugged places as best I can; I dabble in adventure sports. But always dreams of a different life elude me, remaining just out of grasp. My housemates go out to the pub and I stay home staring at photographs in a new book I was given about a polar expedition. I peer into the eyes of one of the explorers and they squint back from within the fur ruff of a parka, revealing nothing. How did you get there? Who will invite me on an Arctic expedition? And more importantly, how will I pay the bills? Surviving seems simple these days compared to the question of how people can afford to be professional explorers.

These are the questions that plague my dreams – like most people, I suppose. I don't delude myself into thinking that I am unique. I don't feel sorry for myself. But I wonder what I can do to get invited on some epic expedition, how I get to be one of the people who squint into the camera lens with a face hardened with jungle mud, Arctic ice, sea salt. It hardly matters where. All that matters is that these dreams continue to chase me like a hungry wolf. They keep me restless, roaming, searching, awake while everyone else drinks a beer and goes to bed. I stay awake writing, because writing seems to be the answer.

1 comment:

  1. Writing is a great way to look at it. Some of us eho took the road more commonly traveled and spend our time working, enjoy reading blogs like yours and see what life and cultures outside of ours are like. Keep following your heart and dreams and keep us all posted.


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