“Tomorrow, we’ll answer any final questions and have a reflection,” John O’Keefe said on the second to last day of class.
“Then, we’ll break the Fellowship.”
That line stopped me in my tracks.
I immediately thought of this.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is my all time favorite story. The journey of the Fellowship speaks to me on many levels, providing much of the foundation upon which I built my worldview.
If you haven’t experienced this brilliant work, start here.
John’s words resonated with me. My heart began to ache when I realized they were true.
Our crew is a Fellowship, each member bringing our own strengths and weaknesses to the table. This is a common theme among many blogs on this site, mainly because it’s true. I think most would agree that this has been the most dominant theme of our trip.
Before we embarked, many of us hardly knew each other. Yet, over a five week period, we became an extremely tight-knit unit.
This is part of the Journey. You leave one person, you come back different.
I can honestly say this is true for me.
I can’t even begin to explain all of the ways that I have grown in the last two weeks, but I can try to distill it down.
Story: Stories are not abstract, They are tangible. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Stories exist in the world independent of storytellers. They can be touched, tasted, and smelled. They can be loved, hated, nourished, and killed. Most importantly, they can be felt. It is our responsibility as storytellers to do all of these, rather than observe from afar. Only then can we craft a true narrative.
Pressence: We spent the majority of our trip without cell phone service in a place where the sun sets around 12:30 am. Our sense of time and digital connection were severely impaired. Furthermore, we spent most of every day focused intently on the tasks before us. We spent every day with the same people. As a result, we were very present. I was able to focus on what was going on exactly at that moment and enjoy it for what it is. A lot of the time back home I felt like I was only half experiencing life. Now I know that I can experience all of it. All I have to do is be present.
Conscience: I saw a lot of things in Alaska that I had never seen before. Many of them, particular the effect of climate change on individual people, were difficult for me to reconcile with things I formerly believed to be true. I know longer have the excuse of ignorance. I have a responsibility to use my knowledge and experience the best I can. I have to be conscious of what is happening around me, even if it is not pretty.
Communion: Between spending every moment with the Fellowship and interacting with the community in Bethel, I learned to a great degree what it means to live in communion with others. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I always think of the reflection we had right before we left Bethel. We sat in silence, eyes closed, and just existed with each other. I am not an island. I am a part of a whole, a totality.
Spirit: I found grace in action and in the environment. There are many modes and mediums of spirituality. I saw God (whatever that means) in the midnight sunset over the Kuskokwim. I felt the humanity of another human at Rose Dominic’s. I felt harmony and peace with my own spirit walking on the tundra.
John said we would break the Fellowship. I don’t think that will ever really happen. We are bound to each other through experience. We will always share that.
To close, I quote J.R.R. Tolkien,
“It’s a dangerous business, walking out your front door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
This is Scott Prewitt, Scotty P, Mr. Panasonic, signing off.