Finally aboard Air Greenland to Kangerlussuaq. After viewing most of the short videos about he world’s largest island, I’ve learned that the “Big Arctic Five are: dogsledding, ice and snow, northern lights, pioneering people, and whales. Coincidentally Minnesota also has dogsledding, ice and snow, northern lights and pioneering people. We come up pretty shy on whales. Do I need to travel to Greenland for these, or could I have stayed home?
Great question, Maybe this is why my mom, who’s known me for more than 45 years, still asked me numerous times why I needed to cross Greenland. Part of her knew I’ve already done this sort of thing. But a significant part of exploring. It’s not about the activity. It’s about he place—the unknown. Do my skills and ideas fit in this new place, or do I have to adjust them, or create them anew to fit my best big picture?
In a world of ever-increasing and impossible-to-remember details, the context matters. To be able to see the patterns and the sense, to simplify…is to move more freely.
So yes, I know skiing and ice and snow and expeditions, but how it all works here is yet to be seen. It’s a beautiful thing, applying what we know in new wheres and whens and hows…in new boxes. That’s right, this expedition is a box I’ve placed myself in to force a certain exploratory creativity, one of limits and a uniquely free lifestyle.
I do not explore alone. Back in the summer of 1994 I hiked above the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. I disappeared for a week. No cell, satellite or home phone. No Spot, inReach or any reach at all. I hiked alone with an impossibly heavy pack, a nearly broken tent, and a stove that had the wrong fuel no matter how hard I’d practiced my Swedish. You just cannot burn alcohol in a gas stove. I was on an adventure, and I loved it, also wanting to share it with others.
For me, a crucial part of the exploration is the people adventuring with us. They—we—change, no…define the quality of the beauty, what lasts, what leaves. I’ve learned that a place is only as gorgeous as the relationships between the team members. Therefore, even the same old hike is worth walking if you are exploring either a different person, and especially with your partners in exploration. They always have so much to give, perspective, humor, ease, constantly making the world a better place.
That’s my hope for this trip, that no matter how easy or difficult, surprising or familiar, we will be still be exploring for the newness that we bring to it.