To go or not to go. That is the question.

14 Aug

Haines, Alaska

For the past few weeks, I’ve been dreaming of Alaska. Of going there and writing about it. I can remember exactly when I became fixated on the idea. It hasn’t left my mind since. I saw the job posting on a website. It was listed as “Alaskan Outdoor Paradise.”

It was quite a seller. It talked about feasting on scenery and no stop lights or smog. It got me thinking: Why not go to Alaska? I’m young and unattached. I haven’t seen much of the world aside from Buffalo and Michigan. I could go and write for a very small-town newspaper there, The Chilkat Valley News. Then, like girls often do, I continued dreaming of my future in Alaska with nothing to anchor those dreams into solid reality.

The inspiration launched multiple Google searches on the subject. See below.

It wasn’t just anywhere in Alaska. The place of my dreams was a town called Haines in rural Alaska, and it’s as small-town Alaska as Alaska can possibly get. You could either say “rural” or to be more realistic and say, “isolated.” The only way to reasonably access the town is by ferry. Ferries shuttle passengers to and from Juneau, the state capital regularly. If the weather’s good, it’s a three-hour boat ride. Normally, it takes five.

Population? 2,000. In the winter that’s sliced in half. Most people there are summer-dwellers and pack when the usual six-month winter approaches. When Alaskan cruise ships make port there, the population explodes into double its size, if only for a few days.

The town is located along the “Inside Passage.” Doesn’t that name evoke sled dogs, glaciers and adventure? The inside passage is an area filled with sea routes ships once took (and still take) to avoid the rough, open sea. The speck of a town is within two bodies of water. Rising up from them are 7,000 ft. mountains, capped with snow.

Now, these are the kinds of things I really can only imagine. From experience, I know pictures do sad justice to what the human eye sees. To actually see mountains such as these, to see the color of the water, to feel the mist and stand upon the shoreline…

It would be crazy to go there. Utterly crazy. But undoubtedly cool, in both meanings of the word. I imagined seeing moose and bear and bald eagles on my drive to work. I imagined being on the ferry to Juneau and spotting whales arching through the chill water. I imagined being the sole reporter in a town of 2,000. I imagined a place so completely different from anything I’ve ever known.

And I found myself falling a little bit in love. With an ideal.

Thank God for mothers. Seriously. Ironically, when I told her about my muse, she responded surprisingly. She too, had considered moving to Alaska when she was my age, driven by the same, simple reason: “Why not?” But mom probed into me, as she often does. She questioned my motives.

“Do you want to go because you feel led to go there. Or is this just something YOU want to do.”

I stopped. I knew where she was going with this. She wanted to know whether it was God who wanted me to move. Or was it just something I wanted to do.

“Sometimes,” she continued, “If you do things on your own, you miss blessings God may have in store for you here.”

She retold stories of such things happenings. Of missed blessing.

“Moving to Alaska won’t change who you are,” she said.

“But mom,” I replied, “What if I never hear God’s voice? What if I wake up and I’m 30 and I’ve never done anything worth doing, never seen anything or gone anywhere?”

“Listen to what you’re saying,” she said. “You’re motivated out of fear. Our of an impulse to just go. God is good, and he will lead you.”

I seemed to have forgotten, over these past few weeks, that doing something on my own, out of fear of waking up one day not having done anything, isn’t scriptural. It’s not trusting God. It was also my mom who reminded me that milk in Alaska is more than $5 a gallon. It’s one of the most expensive places to live. It’s quite dark there, too. She said I would probably cry a lot if I went. I probably would have.

Am I still a little bit in love the idea of Alaska? Sure. Would I like to see someday if the ideal is real or not? Yes. But for now, I’m  thankful that I have a mother who can still talk some sense into me.


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