Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience,
but to their capacity for experience.
~ James Boswell ~
What was it with that swing set in my grandmother's front yard? It radiated magic powers, imbuing me with the strong desire to touch the horizon wherever I was.
I spent my youth chasing that horizon on a motorcycle. I lived my life full-throttle, with no fear…or if there ever was a flurry of fear, it was never anything I allowed to stop me from doing exactly what I wanted to do. I think that's the real definition of fearless; it's not that you never experience fear but that you just don't let it get in the way of living your life and following your dreams.
Like being here in Alaska: it has taken me a lot longer than I thought it would to realize this dream come true , but I never want to be too old to dream and to pursue my dreams.
As a young person, I fused faith and inner strength, leaving my life at home behind to take the quantum leap to follow the sunsets in another country. Life's force led me through thick and thin, and my guardian angel had received a tough assignment with me, providing luck and protection whenever I needed it, for which I will be forever grateful. Life for me was a vision, chasing the unknown and adjusting to the thrill of it.
The Universe was my collaborative eyes and ears; it always sent me timely messages to show me when I needed to make changes or correct my course, and so it is again now. But looking back, isn't it true that my dream job in Germany, working at mo magazine, was still too confining for me, and eventually I had to leave to seek more adventure and freedom? Isn't it true that my racing escapades in Germany were rudely interrupted by a horrible crash to show me another path? The same with my racing years in California, when it took the harsh realities of a substandard lifestyle, a terrible accident, temporary imprisonment, and the threat of deportation to make me realize I had to think about my life differently, before I ended up getting myself killed.
And isn't it equally true that I was actually very blessed to have found a job that complemented my personality to perfection for many years? In the beginning, it felt like I had slipped into a new pair of shoes that fit really well, but now these shoes were worn and rather uncomfortable.
Today, my Alaskan journey brought me to the end of the world. I walked along a small dreamy country road until I came upon a little yellow sign with a three-letter word: "END." The road stopped and the Icy Straights, leading into Glacier Bay National Park, began. I hopped onto a whale-watching boat.
What could be more beautiful than gazing into this dark-blue strip of water? Here, the horizon is where the lighter blue of the sky and the deep navy blue of the sea meet in unison. Add to that the golden glint of the sun's rays on the surface of the water, and you have pure magic. We passed a family of sea otters paddling tranquilly along the shore in backstroke, while mischievously squinting into the sunshine, just enjoying the day. The air carrying the deafening sounds of a flock of puffins, one of the many water birds perched on huge rocks debating about their lunch menu.
And suddenly, there they were: the orca whales. These huge creatures with their black-and-white skins glistening with the cold water as they glided through the bay, their huge tail fins propelling them effortlessly forward; it was unforgettable to witness such nobility and grace, and to be reminded that even when I can't see it, there is exuberant life beneath the surface.
Life beneath the surface: I have to remind myself that the real me is not the person who goes to work every day in that suit. She is like the seemingly cold and lifeless surface of the sea, the one who is just going through the motions, doing what's expected and what needs to be done, but doing it joylessly. The real me is the one beneath, the one I had forgotten, the one who has been dormant until recently when I've started to wake up again.
I’ve picked a fine summer for this trip. Granted, I'm usually more of a warm-weather person. After spending my early years with unpredictable German weather, I later chose to live in sun-saturated places like Southern California, Mexico, and Miami that pretty much sealed my addiction to sandy beaches and palm trees. But the crisp air and twenty-one hours of daily sunlight in the Alaskan summer are the convincing manifestations of the beauties high up north.
Later on in the day, I found myself sitting in a huge, open field covered with thousands of wildflowers, when I drifted into my usual philosophical mindset again. Already dealing with the emerging doubts in my mind, I was wondering, what is going on with me? Lately, all I seem to think about is how secluded and lifeless I feel. I think I've sold my soul to a corporation in exchange for the trappings of security: a big paycheck, a respectable job title, health benefits, and a retirement plan. The day I stepped into the business world, I started to forget how to dream, and I have since lost my cherished visions. This is a high price to pay. I have fallen unconscious on the inside, though I appear conscious outwardly and did not even notice it for a long time.
I think that perhaps things started to change when I got married, because something really began to shift in me at that point. Was it my preconceived expectations of what it was supposed to be like, being married? It was never my ultimate goal in life to get married, and when my sister and my friends started doing it, I was happy for them, but otherwise I frankly couldn't see the point. To me, marriage generally meant traditional roles and restrictions, and although our marriage wasn't all bad and I enjoyed the good times we had, things became difficult when I felt confined again, when I felt stifled by the expectations and the mere realization that there was no room for exotic dreams and visions.
Or was the defining moment when I realized that my motorcycle racing career was really never going to go where I wanted it to? Was that the point where I surrendered myself to some other fate called normalcy? To a world where stability and security came first?
These are the questions stuck in my mind today. More and more I realize that I have allowed myself to drift away from the core of who I used to be. I have let fear come into my life and be in charge, when before I was fearless and made my decisions by pure intuition. My personal maturity process has played a big role in this, and in some ways, I am still the same person; but there is a part of myself that has somehow gone missing or into hiding, and I have to figure out how to get her back.
This enormous Alaskan horizon seems to hold more questions than answers for me today, but in retrospect, all things in life are as lively as the glaciers and the sea. After I had sucked all energy out of Los Angeles and decided to move to Mexico City, many more things became questionable. It was there that Juan was put into my path, the one unexpected factor, the person who opened my eyes again, showing me in a very subtle way a new direction…and what personal happiness and self-acceptance are all about.
Alaska may be light years away from Mexico, in culture, climate, and environment…but there is something about being here that reminds me a little of those years I spent south of the border. There, I was still a woman who took chances and sought out the next adventure, even though I already was firmly caught in the tentacles of a big company back then. Hmm, that might be worth thinking about further; maybe there are more clues to discover where the fearless me went…but in the words of Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about that tomorrow."
After an action-filled and unforgettable day out on the water with the whales, I will try to go to sleep early, even in the bright evening daylight, to be ready for whatever fresh and magical adventures Alaska has in store for me tomorrow. I feel like I am on the verge of discovering something wonderful.