I have returned from my adventure in Alaska. While the work reasons I was there are more mundane, some of the things I learned and sights I saw will not soon leave me.
To be brief, Alaska is a land that overwhelms you. The land mass of Alaska is larger than California, Texas, and Montana put together. When one visits Alaska, one is nearly always on the edge of civilization; on the very verge of being overwhelmed by Creation itself.
We think we are the masters of our fate, that we can control life, that we are smart, in command, confident. We live in well-ordered cities where most of life is regulated and controlled.
Not so in Alaska. Nature is very close, very present, and very, very large. Each year from November to March the night ski (almost 23 hours of it in December) is alight nearly each night with the Northern Lights. This is a place that naturally makes one feel small, insignificant, and very much NOT in control.
I liked this feeling, this feeling of being on the edge of something far greater than me, of being nearly out of control. I was reminded in a new way of Who is really in control, and of how little I acknowledge my lack of control in the daily, civilized pace of my life.
Go to Alaska some day. You will be confronted with your smallness.