I went to Alaska. It’s a big, awe-inspiring place. From the majestic beauty of its land and sea, to the green Pontiac that obviously survived more than 50 Alaska winters. From the fish we caught, to the salmon we observed swimming achingly upstream for the chance to spawn and die. Especially the commercial fishermen Kristy / The Wicked Noodle and I met at the local dive bar The P(ioneer) Bar in Sitka. I was impressed by Alaska’s resilience.
We spent quite a bit of time on a boat in the open water where I got to think about these things. I found myself drawn to the bow of the boat. The cold Alaskan wind whipping my hair into into fusilli curls. I probably looked pretty (fu)silly. Still, it didn’t take me long to recognize a little demon brewing in the back of my cold, cold head. I soon saw that I had retreated to this solitary area of the boat out of a little bit of fear. I was with quite a group of bloggers. I’d call them blogstars and I’d say it with a straight face.
I chose that spot of the boat not because it was warm or comfortable. I chose it because the power of nature hitting me full-force in the face forced me to deal with the fear I was feeling. I don’t mean the fear that I might fall overboard. I have a very adventurous soul. I usually choose the more difficult path in life. The fear I was facing was the fear that I didn’t belong. That I just wasn’t good enough.
You see, right or wrong, I’m not what I’d call a joiner by nature. I don’t go on tour group vacations. I don’t take classes and I don’t read self-help books. I don’t like spectator sports and I won’t hold your place in line if I’ve never met you before. I’m fiercely loyal to those I love (and I have heard) I’m hard to get to know. Some people think this makes me a curmudgeon (or worse yet a snob!). But really I’m just kinda shy. If it’s possible to be an extroverted introvert, that’s exactly what I am.
As I bounced across the water that morning in Alaska I began to think about the bloggers around me and my place in the blogging community.
On its face blogging seems a rather solitary activity. In fact that’s one of the things that drew me to blogging. I often sit alone in my underpants or bathrobe and “work”. The cloistered aspect still appeals to me. But the more involved I get in this world the more I begin to see how deeply communal it really is. It started with Camp Blogaway. I went knowing I wasn’t a joiner. But in the end I found my tribe.
When I first showed up to Camp Blogaway I’d been going through a large professional transition in my life. The creative part of my soul had been starving for a couple of years at that point. I just didn’t know it. After all, I’d spent my entire show biz career in a creative capacity.
But somehow it’s different when you are young and creative. There are no boundaries. There are no rules. There’s no stopping you if you are determined and so inclined. I was so inclined, and very determined. Call it ego, call it talent or call it stubborn perseverance. But I believe anything is possible if you look at it singularly.
Place your eyes on the rungs of the ladder in front of you. Move up one step at a time but keep your eyes locked straight ahead. Don’t look up and certainly don’t look down. Vertigo has destroyed more creative people than we will ever know.
I did all right in Hollywood, but I didn’t make it to the top of the ladder. Because life happened. I met a man and fell in love. He supported my aspirations– of course he did because he loved me. But when you build a life with someone you love, the life becomes the most important thing. You make decisions you might never make if you were still climbing that ladder alone. But the rungs do get closer together when it’s the two of you climbing that ladder. The stronger you get, the easier that ladder becomes. You start to see the top of the ladder.
But what if the top of that ladder is not to be your destination after all? Because when you look around, you see that this spot, this plateau is lovely. In fact it’s perfect. So you get off that ladder and build a life right there. In so many ways you are satisfied. Sure there’s that creative thirst. It never goes away– even as you enjoy a life of wild happiness. So it’s rather surprising when one day you wake up and realize you’re parched.
Blogging is the liquor that quenched my thirst. This is what I was contemplating on that cool gray Alaska morning as our boat soared across the ocean. Those few moments alone to myself gave me strength. Because there is power in believing in yourself. I may have a different means of expression these days– but heck there’s no one else in the world really qualified to express what’s inside me quite as well as I. So I might as well buck up and do it myself in whatever manner I choose.
I began to see this trip to Alaska as more than an opportunity to eat great (great) seafood and learn what makes it, and all of Alaska’s other precious natural resources so special. It helped me reach inside myself and I put my fears aside. Suddenly it was easy to see this trip as a celebration of a unique community. The food blogging community.
So I broke out of my shell a bit, and I gotta say I enjoyed coming out from behind the keyboard; getting in touch with my inner joiner. I’m glad I did it too. Because I met some great people. We were on an adventure. We had common interests. We were in Alaska. We were vigorous and exuberant together.
Guess what? In the end my fears seem to have been for nothing. I ate great food. I learned some cool things. I made friends.
I’ll probably never be a true joiner. Maybe I am a curmudgeon. But I don’t let life pass me by. I just don’t. So if you see me standing alone at the bow of the boat somewhere, throw me a little wink and let me know that I’m okay just the way I am. GREG