Dreams and Reality.……Part I
I have read many books over the years of all shapes and sizes. Out of all those there is one that I can claim as my favorite. The name of the book is North to the Night by Alvah Simon. It is a non-fiction sailing adventure story about Alvah and his wife Diane who embark on a journey to the Arctic. I got to thinking the other day what it is about the book that makes me enjoy it so much (I’ve read it multiple times). Here is what I have come up with.
Before doing that, a quick re-cap of the story (spoiler alert!).
Alvah is a person that was born with that certain “wanderlust” and was always looking over the horizon for the next adventure. He spent thirteen years circumnavigating the world in a sailboat stopping along the way to work, explore and experience cultures across the globe. The story begins with Alvah and Diane pulling into Key West, FL to complete Alvah’s circumnavigation. The plan was to settle down and become land lubbers for a while. As Alvah tells it in the book –
“My artic dream began innocently enough, with an old photograph I encountered one day long ago. Gaunt men in worn clothing stood out on the barren sea-ice, staring the camera and probable death in the eye. Trapped in the Antarctic ice pack, they faced unimaginable deprivation and cruel hardships, but together, the men of the doomed ship Endurance would endure, would be narrowly rescued by their brave Anglo-Irish captain, Ernest Shackleton, and at long last would return home from their polar ordeal! My heart soared in celebration, while my stomach sank in envy.”
After much convincing to get Diane on board (no pun intended), the plan is to sail from Maine as for north as they can get into the Arctic , find a place that they can basically get iced in for the long arctic winter and return to the states after the ice breaks up in the summer.
They are able to successfully sail to the Arctic and find a secluded bay hundreds of miles from any sort of civilization. Soon after arriving, they learn that Diane’s father is very ill and she decides to leave the boat to be with him. This leaves Alvah and their cat to endure the long arctic winter alone, in a boat, in the middle of nowhere. He experiences blizzards, polar bears, temporary blindness, loneliness and his own inner struggles. It is truly a remarkable adventure that he goes through during this time and I am amazed that someone has the ability to do this.
So what is it about this book and story that I like? I tried to boil it down to a few thoughts/ideas that can translate to our lives.
Adventure – I tend to lean towards non-fiction books in general and in particular true adventure type books. So this was right up my alley. Most of us won’t be jumping into a sailboat and heading off the Artic anytime soon. But, I think that having some new experiences in life is good and helps to refresh and regenerate. So whatever your “adventure” may be – go give it a try. Take a chance and get to know your inner self.
Reflection – Being alone in the Arctic, Alvah has a lot of time to think. He was able to reflect on many parts of his life both good and bad. He is very philosophical and it is interesting to see the mental challenges that he deals with being alone for an extended period of time. I’m not suggesting that you go and hole up in a sailboat for a few months. But, I do think that finding time to slow down, be quiet and reflect can be beneficial. Life can get pretty busy and our inner self yearns for its quality time as well.
Dream Big – I really love that fact the Alvah has the dream to go on this adventure, and is able to make it a reality. He dreamed big and went after it. That is not always an easy thing to do, and I admire those that can. There is tremendous satisfaction in seeing your dreams come to fruition. Hold on to the inner beauty that you were born with as a child and make it reality.
What are some dreams you have? How can we make our dreams a reality? Check back for a follow-up post that will look closer at how we can do just that. I hope you have the chance to read North to the Night and maybe it will inspire you to dream big and find your own adventure, allowing you to live up to your full potential.
Stay tuned for part 2!
Bill Hoover – Design Professional
Gould Design, Inc.