Introductions have never been terribly complicated things. Many of us learn how to introduce ourselves over the phone before we join preschool, and when tasked with learning a foreign language they are often the first string of dialogue we practice.
Introductions almost always include a name (this seems obvious, but I’ll get to the importance of this in a second). Introductions can include an occupation or acquaintanceship, and occasionally a location depending on the situation. The typical introduction is benign, forgotten within minutes of being spoken; however an introduction can be a powerful three second insight to someone else’s world.
This weekend a friend of mine introduced me to her mother who was visiting from out of town. This friend and I have known each other for a few years and have similar backgrounds, her mother knew nothing of me other than I was a friend who occasionally gets storm bound and commandeers her couch for weeks at a time. The introduction could have included various tidbits of unessential knowledge including but not limited to where I work, where I live, how we met… the list goes on. This introduction was different. It was simple, it might have been a long shot, but it made me reconsider instructions as a method of communication and it went something like this…
“Mom, this is Erin Margaret…She is going to save the world”
It is true that my ultimate end goal of life if to save the world. I think this is a goal most people share. But this was not just a statement of my life’s goals; this three second sentence gave me a brief look through my friend’s eyes. It solidified her approval in my dreams and instilled the confidence in me to look deeper at what I am actually doing here.
My challenge for myself from now until forever is to change my traditional introductions into something a little more meaningful. Starting right not I am going to give it a shot.
Nome can be a ‘gypsy’ community. Anyone who spends a short amount of time here can see the ware it causes on such a small town. People come and go, cars titles and leases change like the weather, and a good sturdy moving box can be a form of currency. With this comes a fair amount of variety. There are almost always new people to meet in Nome, and it is safe to say that only half of the people at your work place will be there 6 months from now. But all these changes have their cost.
There are periods in time, periods where old friends leave and new ones have yet to come in, where one feels utterly alone. Nome can be cold and barren and dark for long periods of time. There are times in the winter where you are stuck indoors distracting your self with crafts and music until the wind calms down to a point where you are no longer afraid to open your door; But this is only temporary and it is easy not to feel alone. There are times in the summer when it is 3am and the day light convinces you to keep hiking just one more mile or to catch just one more salmon, and although you may be by yourself it is easy not to be bothered by being alone when there are fish to catch and dogs to chase.
I feel most alone in the spring time.
When the weather is inviting and the snow holds a slight crunch under your skis it is easy to feel alone in the tundra. It is simple for me to pack my bag and climb a mountain or hike to an abandoned dredge. It is fun for me to snow shoe to the biggest drift on anvil and start to carve a fort in the snow, but for whatever reason when I take off my skis or put down the shovel the silence becomes piercing. The tundra is relentless for brining out loneliness. Even knowing I am only 10 minuets from a warm cup of tea and a town full of people, it is still possible to look out over the thousands of miles of barren tundra and feel completely alone.
That being said, a good friend of mine has taught me to value my loneliness. Any second it could all change and I might never again have these feelings. I have friends with small children and siblings in professional careers who may never have times where they are alone. Being lonely can be a right of passage in life. It has been known to make great heros and influence the greatest leaders, it has also been known to drive people mad. I am still not sure which of these will hold true for me; But while I am alone, I will be happy. I will cherish this time and learn from it and understand that in minuets all of it could change forever.