Bear tracks

June 10, 2010

I am currently working on the third round of editing of  “To Drink the Wild Air”. I feel like I am under pressure to finish up. Fortunately this process cannot be rushed. Quality takes time. However, when I edited one of the Alaska Chapters I felt like giving the text some life. Here is a little excerpt of the Chapter with a couple of pictures.   

                                   

                                    Alaskan Journal, Part 3: No Peace without Faith

Life is a constant process of relating.

~ Bruce Lee ~

Another amazing day…. I took a short, thirty-minute “flight seeing” trip from Gustavus to Haines, Alaska, crossing the fjords and glacial lakes below; and from above, I was able to spot and follow a herd of wandering moose. Once we landed in Haines, I rented a car and drove up the Alaska Highway, crossing the Canadian Yukon Territory to get to Haines Junction. I stopped for a hike in the Kluane National Park, and after registering at the ranger’s station, off I went alone into bear country.

It was a breathtaking, five-mile, steep, upward climb in every sense of the word. Untouched wilderness surrounded me as I hiked, and though it was summer, it was cool enough for me to see my breath steaming from my nostrils…when suddenly, my path intersected the path of huge, fresh bear tracks! The imprints in the sand of this massive bear’s paw made my feet, protected by sturdy hiking boots, look like the print of a miniature action figure in comparison.     I stayed still and listened for rummaging noises in the bushes, keeping all my senses sharpened. Up there at the heights where mountain goats scamper across the rocky cliffs, where bald eagles circle and bear mystics meditate, I sat down on an old, gnarled tree trunk and read Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. I looked up into the sun, following the sounds of the ravens, and started drifting off once again into the little private world of my own thoughts.

            I think I need to get out. No…I know I need to get out. Out of my current job and out of the Company, I mean. Having all this time to be alone, in nature, without having to be at the beck and call of the freaking Company is showing me just how far gone I’ve really been and how much I already was suffering on the inside. I am at the breaking point, and I know it. I don’t know how much more I can really tolerate. I am not sure if it is possible for me to pull myself together again to keep my head down, continue to work, and just ignore my inner urge to revolt. Already the mere suggestion of this course of action feels like a brutal self-betrayal. I’m not sure I’m ready to jump ship tomorrow, but I can feel it’s not far off, and sooner or later I’ll have to deal with that.

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Chapter 7: Passionate Intuition

May 20, 2010

Today I was working on chapter 7 of the manuscript of ” To Drink the Wild Air”  to finish the last round of editing.                                                                              

Passionate Intuition”

All human actions have one or more of these seven causes:

chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion and desire

~ Aristotle ~

 

In my case it was passion and desire. Here is an excerpt from a story of early 1984. I was still in the firm grip of a raging racing fever. I still can feel the thrill and emotions of this ride in the mountains…

It was cold riding through the glorious scenery in the high Alps, and we rode in both clear skies and snowstorms on that trip. I wasn’t foolish enough to try and show Robert up on snowy, icy roads, but we had some warmer days and dry roads at one point, and I finally saw my chance; I started to race him. He was expecting this and naturally couldn’t let his ego down—he accepted my challenge. Immediately, we both forgot about the scenery, forgot about the fact that we were at an altitude of seven thousand feet on narrow, winding, two-way mountain roads without any protecting guardrails to shield us from sliding down the steep long slopes into the valleys below us, and that there were a number of annoying cars on the road.

Gradually, we increased our speed and went faster and faster, the stunning landscapes passing by in a blur. We had long lost our friends when we finally hit a stretch of road with little opposing traffic. By this time we were fully engaged in our nice “friendly” street race, traveling at speeds around 80 mph (130 km/h). Robert had been leading slightly. I was already pumped up by an incredible adrenaline rush and promptly forgot all about my resolution not to use racing techniques on public roads, but this opportunity was too good to ignore; We were coming up onto a sharp, left-hand curve, and I took my shot. The roads were very tiny, and there was clearly not enough room for both of us, at least not for the maneuver I was just about to pull off. We were going far too fast to stay on the road if we failed to make the necessary split-second decisions. Robert had already hit the brakes to prepare for this turn up ahead of us. The point at which he chose to brake, I used to downshift, giving me much more momentum; I had to react quickly since speed is an unforgiving opponent, and so I slid by him on his left side. I actually grazed him with my right shoulder, knee, and elbow when I finally hit the brakes; was he ever shocked! We were going head-to-head into this left turn. I leaned the bike over and cut the turn crossing onto the other side of the road dedicated for oncoming traffic, in the hope that there was no car coming up the hill. I took my chance, accelerated quickly out of the turn, went back to my side of the road, and was triumphantly in the lead. Robert had lost his momentum after I cut him off, or as we say when we talk shop, “closed the door on him.” I was on a furious run now and kept on going in total and utter race mode to the end of the mountain road. Finally, I realized I didn’t even see Robert in my rearview mirror anymore, and so I stopped and waited for everyone else to catch up with me. Story of my life.