I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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Christine Byl lives in a yurt north of Denali National Park. She is the author of the memoir Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods and makes her living as a professional trail-builder. She loves bridges, birds, sled dogs, tools, free speech, and snow (the more the better).
I have to say, what kept me there was not the science but the place. I wanted to be there in a way that had purpose. I didn’t want to visit or go on long kayak trips. I wanted to spend my life in Prince William Sound. For five years I lived at a field camp for three or four months at a time. The work gave me a purpose for being there: a part to play in protecting the ecosystem.
Articulating life — converting inarticulate being into words — is definitely one of the great joys of being a writer. For me, the great frustration of being a writer is the same as what frustrates me in my spiritual life: my own stupidity, ignorance, and inability at times to perceive and give voice to the wonder and truth that is always there.