We’re home from Alaska after a whirlwind trip. I’ll write more about it later, but one of the things that strikes me about our two weeks up there is that wherever you go, people are leading their daily lives.
Earthshaking, I know. Big deal. But we forget that.
I say this because when I was getting ready to go, any number of people (including myself) said “I can’t believe you’re going there.” The unspoken words being, “You’re nuts.”
And in a way, I guess I am a little nuts. Working in Key West seems to make more sense in January. The underlying thought is “No one would go there right now. Forget about living there.”
And I’ve heard that numerous times when I’ve traveled places – Bosnia not long after the war, Mexico during the rise in drug wars, the Lower East Side during the crime wave of the eighties.
But whenever I get to these places, I find people living out their lives with a surprising amount of normalcy. For the vast majority of humans, day to day living is just that. There are challenges – more in some places than others. There are always some streets you don’t walk down, but if you follow that rule, most places are safe, and normal. Most people are worried about their work, and their kids, and whether their roof is leaking. Some people have a tougher slog than others, but they shoulder it and get on with what’s in front of them.
Alaska was, well, normal. Very beautiful. A lot of snow. Colder than New England. Being there, you’re more aware of the forces of nature. But, well, people are people. It cracks me up that a thousand miles north of Seattle there’s a huge city with art centers, street lights, hotels, an all kinds of chain stores.
Like I said, people live there.
And not even in just the cities. Haines, Alaska is a very small town, and pretty isolated. No hospital. Seven hundred miles or so to Anchorage. But I had some good soup at the Mountain Market and went swimming in the town pool. It was like the pool at my local Y. The hotel had bad coffee, just like any hotel. Kids have after-school programs and teenagers are reading the Twilight series. Sure there’s the random moose and bear to contend with – that’s what makes it Haines and not Seekonk. People are more aware of the outdoors, since it can be rougher, and it’s the reason a number of people choose to be here – they like that. But mostly, people get by and accept what’s in front of them..
This is not earthshaking, and that’s why it’s important, I think. Most people are living their lives, regardless of where they live. It’s something we have in common, and worth remembering.