26 January 2012
Mrs. Murphy-Bridge of Nova Scotia asked: "If you had the opportunity to change 2 things in your initial approach to the Haida Gwaii venture what would they have been?"
I didn’t want to fob off the question with a cheesy, trite-sounding, “Nothing!” even if it was my immediate reaction. But I’m still having trouble coming up with a good answer.
So I’m going to amend the question a little. First, to put it this way, there’s one simple thing that I might have said to myself, if I could go back in time and tap myself on the shoulder while I was busy jamming things into Totes. It’s the old adage that travelers everywhere try to follow. “Bring less stuff.” And to that I’d add, the stuff you do bring, make it the best that you can afford. I tried going with a used generator and it pooped out after a few months. I ended up having to buy a brand new one and troubling my friends to bring it up as luggage on the plane.
My chainsaw is the best that I could buy and it’s served me well. Spending the extra money was especially painful at the time since I just lost a wad of money by buying what turned out to be a stolen saw (another story).
Otherwise, I’m not so remote that I can’t possibly get what I need after the fact even if it takes time and is more expensive.
I’ve used less than a fifth of the clothing etc. that I brought up with me. Maybe even less than 10%. And once you have something with you, it sticks, and you just can’t get rid of it. Well, I have a hard time, anyway. I think of all the time and energy that I spend thinking about, packing, repacking, moving, and storing that dead weight. If I would just get rid of it all now, I’d be saving myself more of the same down the road. But I just can’t get myself to do it.
Funnily enough there are seemingly extraneous things that I wish that I had brought, which I can’t bring myself to buy, because I already have them in back in the city or they’re just so bulky and low-value that they’re not worth shipping up. One example that I can think of is the 2/3’s-full box of clays I left that would have been great for working on my follow through with the shotgun. I did bring the thrower but can’t find any clays here.
My real amendment to the question is that my second point, rather than being something I would have changed in my initial approach, it’s what I would like to change after I got here.
When under any stress, my usual inclination is to become a recluse. I now feel that I’ve lost days and nights hermit-like in my cabin when I could be out dropping in on interesting people. I still get that inclination even though I continue to wish otherwise.
Related to hermiting, I wonder what it would have been like to bring a partner up with me.
When I was up here doing a recce trip last year, a guy asked if I was coming up alone. When I said that I was, he said something to the effect of, “You don’t take a girl with you when you go down to Mexico. That’s like bringing sand to the beach. But here…” and he made a face like you do when someone’s doing something inadvisable and you want to be polite about it.
However, my unattached status was part of what made such a move possible. The chances of being with someone who could, or even would, make such a change are slim. As were the chances of getting such circumstances again, a time when I had no specific responsibilities to hold me in the city. There was a gap in the fence and I jumped through it.
Right now, there’s a guy down the beach, who showed up a while ago but has a girlfriend back down south. I can see all the different flavors of heartache stemming from that situation.
As nice as it would have been to have someone here that I could share this with (and always be there to hold the other end of the board while I nailed it in), it would have been a different experience. And perhaps we would have just hermitted together, and I wouldn’t have gotten to know other people as well.
One thing I was glad of was that I made sure to increase my workouts before getting up here (another shout out to Mountain Strength Crossfit near Boston). The most valuable piece of equipment is your body. (Some say it’s your mind. Okay, but the body is pretty darned important, too.) I was plagued with fears of tweaking my back and ending the project before it even got off the ground. As it was, tennis elbow almost took me out.
Otherwise – not to be too Pollyannaish about it – even what seemed like grave mistakes at the time, have served as my greatest learning opportunities.
If you held my hair to the fire and really forced me to say what I would have done differently, I’d say: “I woulda come up sooner!“
Ha-hah! Got in a good cheesy line after all!
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