Adventure in Loss?

Last week I found myself in a situation I never imagined I'd be in: a search and rescue.  Worse yet, a search and rescue for dear friends known well, loved well.  And after three days these friends were not found, only personal items that forced the assumption of worst fears.

How do you find adventure in pain, tragedy, and loss when you cannot even find sense or reason in what otherwise seems a tragic waist or when you can't even remember what you did yesterday because you wondered through the day is a haze of grief, anger, and pain that clouded your thoughts?

How do you find adventure when you are trying to find how to continue when all around you are suffering and you want to comfort and fix but you are broken and uncomfortable too and being in their presence with all the uncomfortable and brokenness makes you even more uncomfortable and it seams, at times, easier to run away and surround yourself with people that aren't as uncomfortable and broken (or at least seem to hide it better as we are all uncomfortable and broken in this fallen world at times and only pretend things are normal)?  It seams easier to just put on that mask among others who are able to do the same and ignore the harsh reality of loss because it seems too hard to face.

But we mustn't take the easy way out!  Hiding from the pain, the ache, is only easier now but results in a gaping wound never healed that oozes into every pore of your life causing all to be effected by the heartbreak, bringing the good of life down (Therapists call this "getting stuck in the grieving process").  What happens next, the new comer to suffering asks, when told we can get stuck in the grieving process: the slow decay of a life from one infection that was hidden instead of faced, denied instead of disinfected.

So, we mustn't take the easy way.  We mustn't hide, mask, or pretend we are as we have been before.  We must sit in the uncomfortable.  We need to simply be, with no words if we have none, with our own pain, uncertainty, and wave upon wave of emotion, and with others who also feel the same helplessness in the face of a barrage of emotions that comes with no words to explain, no reason, or way to fix.

And then wait and see and trust.  See what this wound, slowly healed to leave a scar and the circumstances that caused such a deep cut may bring.  Trusting there is still goodness to be had.  The wound may bring goodness we could never dream up.  The scar, that we will carry with us forever, may become bitter sweet to our soul: a reminder of the loss, the pain, the grief, the hurt but also the very bloodied battle ground where you saw the strength within yourself, the love and faithfulness of those who stayed in the uncomfortable with you, and most of all the presence of the Giver of Life, who despite His Kingship sat next to you, had heartbreak, and maybe even held you in the uncomfortable, in the agony.

Maybe that is the adventure?  A hard adventure but an adventure of discovery, a discovery of such a nature it can only be discovered in the wake of the worst pain, loss, disappointment that this earthly dirt has to offer, a good discovery though, of yourself, your best and truest relationships, and your Great Life Giver.


The Adventure of Changed Plans

I woke up this morning to the tell tail ting of an incoming text.  Blurry eyed, I roll over for a peek at the bright screen with one half open eyeball.  One more staff member will not make it to our monthly company meeting today, down to five, maybe four.  An hour later both eyes are wide open as I chugged my morning beverage but the interrupting phone call left the staff meeting with three, maybe four attendees.  This "I'm sick and won't be into work call" not only leaves our staff meeting with very few staff but leaves me with an entire half day work plan swirling down the drain.
(Super Cub landing on frozen lake with glacier by Owl Bluff, Alaska)

I live in what we Alaskans call "the bush"  (check out the Aussies and Kiwis, they say the same thing).  What it means is I live in a very small village, not big enough to be called a town, of about 200 people that has no modern accoutrements: no store, no gas station, and, yes, heaven forbid, no movie theater (thank you Netflix for keeping me in touch with the rest of my countrymen), and most of all no, and I mean NO, roads to or from anywhere else!  You must fly in a small (think minivan) airplane.  My business, however, has a station, office if you will, in both my small village and the main hub of the State, the big city.  So, I often split my time between the two locations to effectively do all the General Management type jobs one might do.
 (Business trip to sell Alaska Red Salmon in Redding, CA.  Baby boy comes with me to work everyday, near or far.)

When I come to town, however, I like to make my time as efficient and minimal as possible.  If an employee calls in sick on a day I had planned to discuss numerous major financial issues with them, hopefully marking off several things on my to-do list and they will not be in, my life spins out of control (okay, it just feels like it does) and I'm plagued with questions like "Should I just go home as planned and have this important meeting later?", "Should I stay another day?", "What if they are sick tomorrow too?", "What responsibilities at home will I be missing?", "Is my baby boy okay with one more day or does he need to go home?", "Will the milk and eggs I bought yesterday in preparation to fly home today last another day or so (remember, no store where I live)?",  and "Should I just do the job myself, writing an email to get the missing employee up to speed?  This form of communication never seems as effective, though".  And on and on and on . . .
(My family and brother on Trans-siberian Railroad backpacking trip across Northern China and Russia.  The blond, cute baby boy was loved by all.) 

This morning, however, my thoughts stopped spiraling after only one turn around the crazy wheel when I started thinking about traveling, big epic long, adventure pumped traveling.  I love this kind of travel.  Well, I just love travel.  And traveling with my husband has given it a thrill that I can not seem to breath in enough of.  Lacing up your sturdy, comfy shoes that you know you could live in for months.  Strapping on your well packed backpack with almost nothing in it for any civilized westerner but just enough of the right stuff that confidence to face any situation raps around you as the straps wrap around your shoulders.  The graceful motion slinging your one small satchel/day pack/purse (the big airlines call this a personal item) across your shoulder (yes this makes you a bit lopsided, but who cares, adventure awaits) with the most essential items: passport, cash, credit card (or more, it's okay, back up is good), journal, and that comfort inducing long book you have been waiting for long hours uninterrupted to read.  You're ready for adventure, you're ready for whatever comes your way, with the full expectation that most of your days will be spent facing unknown, unplanned surprises.  Not only do you expect them but you are a little excited for them.  This is part of the fun of travel, part of what makes it an adventure.

Why, then, am I expectant and excited for unplanned, unknowns when traveling but dreadful and frustrated by unplanned, unknowns when in my "normal" life?

When that one more texted or phone call changes my day, or even my entire week, or my plans for my time in town I go to grumpy, stressed, panicky places.  What if I didn't?  What if I, much like when traveling, expected the unexpected to happen (I mean, lets be real, have you lived a day on this planet when the unexpected hasn't happened!  Why do we not expect it?)?  What if, when it happened and an entire hour, or two, or four, or eight, or more was suddenly open, available to whatever new thing (or old de-prioritized thing) came up?  What if instead of spiraling down the crazy wheel I saw ADVENTURE in this change and could ask the Giver of all time, plans, and schedules what I was actually suppose to do today as I clearly was not suppose to do what I had planned.  And then waited with excitement to see what I get to do instead.  What if . . .?

Then my cup of hot morning goodness, my now blank note pad for to-dos, my people around me, and most importantly my Giver of all time are my confidence blanket wrapped around me and thrill of adventure in this one day is the
bounce in my step and I start to look for and really feel the adventure and goodness in everyday.
                 (Camping, and sailing, on Lake Clark, Alaska)


This Life: A Wonderful Adventure

This Life: A Wonderful Adventure

I want to constantly live in that reality: this life, a wonderful adventure.  

I want to believe it, not get pulled under by the hard stuff that leaves us complaining and moaning, unable to see all the good.  I want to feel it, really feel it when I get out of bed I'm excited for what is coming, not preparing to plod my feet along, trudging through the daily to-do list with only one mantra: just keep moving.  I want to get out of bed excited for the known and unknown; for what amazing things I might find in my next diaper change; for the new hiding place for that favorite toy that I would have never considered as I don't stand two feet tall; for that work email that just seems amazing, in the bad sort of way, as you swear you have covered this issue with this person no less then four times.  These are coated with frustrations, irritations but they contain wonder too.  It is a wonder my son digested something that comes out like that . . .  It is a wonder my 500 foot square house has places I can't see by standing in the middle and looking in a full circle . . . And its a wonder that email writing professionals doesn't always think the same way I do.  What must they think like? - Wonder, curiosity, opportunity for discovery and understanding: Adventure!

But mostly, I want to LIVE IT!  But not just by circumnavigating the world in 8 month with nothing but a backpack and my best friend or yearly exploring a new destination or dreaming up some abnormal, out-of-the-box endeavors that people are in awe of when you tell the story.
I want to live it when it doesn't look like adventure, when it just looks like the regular must and must nots, dos and do nots of life.

It has been over six years since Lyle and I completed our trip around the world and almost four since we last blogged about our unique adventures.  Since then we produced a little Lydi that is a wonderful combination of his parents but looks mostly like his mom and are expecting another little combination of us that we just can't seem to find a name for (any girl name ideas out there?).  We started building a home.  The 500 square foot, one room cabin won't fit us for ever.  And we took on the family business: an Alaska bush plane air taxi (yes, some parts are like all the reality shows but most are not).  Our life filled with a typical definition of adventure has seemed to slip away, replaced by adult responsibilities, financial stresses, and never enough family time.
One of our friends called this state of adult life "serious, furious" because everything is taken so seriously because, well building a home or paying a mortgage, saving for kid's college and retirement, keeping the car running so everyone gets to their daily activities, and, in our case making sure the family company is doing well enough to pay its bills and the people working for you, trusting you with their livelihood, is serious and since there is never enough time you have to be furiously speedy about it all.

As this change has taken place I have lamented the loss of free-spirited adventuring but now, years into this "real life" I am finding something welling up inside me, something strong, determined, and struggling to fight, to fight for Adventure, an epic journey, a unique quest for my life and the life of my family.  I strongly believe the house, the kids, the job, the business are gifts, blessings, part of the epic, meaningful journey I have been called to.
Unfortunately, when the daily drudgery starts to suck me down, like quick sand pulling in its victim, I begin to think of these blessings as burdens, weights to be lightened or escaped but this dishonors the Giver of these gifts and blinds me to the value, the wealth of these gifts and to the wonder of simply living this blessed life.  The drudgery blinds me to the every day ADVENTURE of life.  That something welling up in me want to fight against this!  I will fight against this!  And daily look for adventure amidst the normality