Thursday, September 11, 2014

Seasons Change: Letting Go of Alaska

Me and my very wise teacher.
     Experiencing the changes of the Alaskan seasons has totally refreshed my being. Instead of a clock, I have watched the Fireweed bud, grow taller than myself, bloom in glorious stages and now turn to white fluff blowing everywhere. Snow on the mountains was abundant when I arrived, disappeared, and very soon will return.

While here, I've learned to drive a boat, clean and can salmon and identify new plants. Digging up potatoes and winterizing the retreat center will be next, in addition to making jams from our wild berry picking expeditions. My taste buds still cheer thinking about the many buckets of blueberries, black (and red) currants, raspberries, watermelon berries, and salmon berries consumed these last few months. On a soul level, I've learned some things that are still hard to express with words.

It does seem curious that I ever questioned spending this time in Alaska. I had wondered if it would be "too long." Too long for what?! It has been the necessary amount of time to witness the natural world, with all of it's leisurely changes. It has been the right amount of time to really be here.

Fireweed in September
Together with the external changes in nature, I've noticed change within myself. An abundance of fresh air may be the reason for an increase in my strength and energy. This environment has promoted a true sense of balance, and reduction in overall stress. I feel closer to nature and much more, a part of it.

The closure part of this experience has begun. The inspiring child I've spent the summer with has started school. This has made it necessary to take longer trips to town. Slowly, I expect these town trips will help me welcome the return of cars and roads back into my life, along with commerce of all kinds.

Glacier kayaking
During this time, I am reminded of the wisdom pointed out in a dharma talk by a Vipassana meditation teacher. She mentioned that it can be a great challenge for some, to let go of formal meditation. At the time, I could not relate to such a dilemma. Letting go of  meditation was the easy part. Getting into it, the challenging part, right? Soon after that talk, I noticed a participant who was clearly immersed in the 10 day retreat. Sometimes, during retreat transitions, out of the corner of my eye, I imagined this person as a very advanced practitioner. At the end of the retreat, the man chose to continue his silence, while the other participants shared their insights and experiences. Suddenly, I wondered if he was someone who had difficulty letting go of retreat. Of course I didn't know his actual story, but the lesson from the dharma talk suddenly made more sense.

Mountains in early May
It is important to let go of our experiences (wonderful or otherwise), in order to continue to be present in life. May yoga & meditation practices help us be resilient, open to life, and willing to let go when necessary.

I may not kayak with a glacier again, but my mind/body/spirit will never forget the many gifts that being in Alaska has brought to my life. May adaptability be one of those many gifts as I get ready to switch gears.