SOME MEMORIES ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS
This November 6th will be three years since we finished our transit to and through the Northwest Passage. During this time I’ve been busy writing the book, trying to get the documentary up and running, and in general trying to readjust to “normal” life. I’m very pleased to say that the book, The Other Side of The Ice has been written and published (available through this site) and the documentary is about two months away from being “in the can” (HD video clips of that too are available on this site). That takes care of the book and doc. What remains to be dealt with is something that, on occasion, I’ve had a rough time doing, and that is returning to “normal” life.
Since that wonderful evening when we shut down the engines on Bagan in Seattle for the final time, my life has been filled, if not at times overwhelmed, with rich, powerful and deep memories of what my family and I accomplished. If these memories started to fade, working on the book and documentary, as well as bringing them up daily revived not only a mental but visual sense. The kids (grown adults!) and I get together far more than before. Here too, memories are stirred up and welcomed. That’s the “up” side. As with just about everything in life, there is usually a “down” side. It’s a balance that at times, seems to weigh more in one direction than the other. What has surprised me is the ongoing strength and volume of this downside, trying not to be outdone by the upside of all the wonderful memories.
As you may have gathered from some of the pictures, video, blogs or book excerpts found on this site, for a large part of the trip we encountered harrowing circumstances. They were so much so that one of the crew crumbled and couldn’t go on. In all honesty, I have to say that from time to time and far more often than expected, had I known such depths of despair, hopelessness and downright fear. During that summer, I was sure that the real reason behind the trip was the ultimate irony and that I was bringing my children, those whom I love the dearest, to their deaths. It’s nothing a parent, let alone trip leader, should ever have to think. And just as the magnificent sights and memories will forever be etched into my consciousness, these terribly dark times have become a part of me. From time to time, they raise their ugly, threatening heads. Last year I was driving along Southport Island here in Maine. At one point, the road ran out and I could see through the thick forest of pines, a roaring ocean not 200 yards away, pounding on a rocky coast. Suddenly my heart was in my throat, my mouth went dry and I said in no uncertain terms to the person driving, “Let’s get out of here… now!” I experienced that same sense of fear and hopelessness while trapped in the ice or battling the gales of the Gulf of Alaska. It all comes back with a vengeance. Little did I know that this dark side isn’t limited to bad dreams or the occasional sense of doom. Sometimes I feel it when editing the pictures for the book or footage for the documentary. During those many weeks in the Arctic, when we had no options and were at Mother Nature’s mercy, I visited a very deep and powerful place in myself. It’s a place that harbors black fears and jagged anxieties that I’m sure one seldom sees in their lifetime. Now that these “monsters” have partially come out from under the bed, they are a part of me every bit as much as the wonderful and indescribably beautiful memories are.
Yes, the trip has changed my life in ways I least expected and sometimes those changes are quite a force to be reckoned with!