I'm drafting this blog entry on my return flight from Seattle to Munich, and while I am excited to return to my beloved Munich, and perhaps even more excited to resume some of my routines and see the community of friends that make my life in Munich so rich and fulfilling, this trip has been particularly meaningful to me, and I am equally reluctant to let it fade away as I become caught up in the whirlwind that is my everyday life. To a certain degree this always happens when I see my family - such is the life of the expat - and it's been magnified by the wedding celebration, one of the few moments in life where most of the people we know and love gather in one place. But this time, it's Alaska that's really knocked me off kilter, or maybe I should more accurately say that I'm experiencing a feeling of becoming re-centered, having rediscovered some long lost places and simultaneously newly discovered things that I missed before. While in Alaska, I kept telling my travel companion, Johanna, that I couldn't understand why I had stayed away for so long, because it is clear that just being in Alaska is good for my soul. There's simply no spot on earth that I have ever been where I can feel that connected to the world around me. As another "exiled Alaskan" put it (writer Edward Readicker-Henderson who wrote the article "Alaskan Eyes" for the May 2013 issue of Sunset Magazine, which I serendipitously packed for the long flight), "it's simply the spot on the map where the world makes sense to me... this is my Alaska: no snow and ice and polar bears, but something carved into the very way I think about the world. Glimpses of truth and wonder seen through rain and clouds and forest shadow." I couldn't have said it better myself.
My new challenge is to bring Alaska back into my life in a more regular way. At a minimum, there will have to be more trips back. In fact, I'm already hatching plans for all kinds of future Alaskan wilderness adventures... and in between Alaska breaks I will of course still continue to live my amazing life in Munich, enjoying the Alps and the beer gardens, and maybe I'll get my fishing license so that at the very least I can fill the in-between time with some fresh fish.