I went to get a recommendation letter from a supervisor yesterday. I am applying to what I think (on my more optimistic days) is my dream job - guiding troubled teens into the wilderness for weeks at a time. Working outdoors, making a difference, having six to twelve days off in a stretch to snowboard or write or play in a darkroom. When I was hacking away at applications last weekend, I was confidant in what I was doing. When I walked out of the office, I was not so sure. Lists of reasons to not apply for the job were running through my head like ticker-tape. I nearly turned on my heel and retracted my request for a recommendation.

I feel the tearing panic of ambivalence at it's most pure. Do I want to live a crazy-schedule life, outside the mainstream? To commit to this path? Or do I want to give a normal life - a 9-5 (or 8-4, if I give in to the increasingly strong impulse to teach), power lunches, commutes, mortgages and two weeks off a year - a shot, after all the nay-saying I've done for so long. On positive days, I remember how utterly happy I was guiding - bouncing across a glassy bay on an ice-crusted morning, watching for whales, hauling kayaks onto and off of boats, ending the day exhausted to the very core of my being. On other days, I remember the sarcastic, whining clients, the spitting cold and usually constant Alaskan summer rain, the mould that took over everything I owned in payment for living in a tent, the frustration of heating hauled water on a coleman stove to wash dishes, to find there was just enough for all but the biggest most bear-enticing pot.

I know that the pressure is on. My parents have made their feelings about my current 'directionless' status clear. This crazy life will quite possibly complicate things with Peter to the point of insanity. These choices quite possibly mean giving up my beloved lion-hound. However, on days like today, the days that can somehow be called good - despite the relentless snow, the myriads of evidence that people really are bad a heart, the bullies and the divas, illness and pain - days that I come out feeling upright, if not totally in control; these are the days I have direction, that I know which life I have to choose to remain true to the person I am fighting so hard to become. It is the days when all the darkness overwhelms my little boat that I think I will have to give in to the pressure. And that is when panic sets in.

I suppose this is not about choosing, after all.



This year, I spent vigil perched on an outcroping of rock a hundred feet above a frozen alpine lake in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska. A fitting location, given all that this last year has entailed. I was accused of running away, when I came north. After months of backpacking and kayaking, living in tents and shacks, reading myriads of text, scribbling notes on scraps of paper between rainstorms, wrestling pitifully with something I used to call prayer, my response emerged from the haze. Some things should well be run from, as quickly as one can gather the courage. And in running from, one must needs be running to something else. And this to is what I have been trying to discover more clearly in the days and months since.

So I found myself crouched on a rock above a frozen lake, mountains and trees and rivers empty of human-kind stretching out in every direction, a snowstorm gathering in the peaks above. I thought about redemption a little, and about hope. And in the echoes of "he is risen" on the wind, like ghosts of a former life, I began to realize that I must somehow find a way to believe in one, so that I can have a chance of finding the other; that if I do not, my little soul will not have the will to keep going.

I think this tiny thread is all I can handle right now - the tapestry I used to rely on has been thoroughly unraveled. It was enough for me to glimpse at hope, at the possibility that it may be a solid thing to hold to, or stand on. Maybe these are the baby steps I should have taken at the beginning of things. Baby steps that will show me the to I must find to keep walking.

Risen, indeed.