The rest of the iceberg

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I spent 51 days at sea this year, the majority of it in the vast wilderness of the Canadian Arctic. It probably goes without saying that my journeys were transformative. On return from my final trip of the season, I feel like my skull is porous; as if the aurora borealis are shimmering into and out of my own mind.

The sublimity, the solitude, the spirit… they all conspire to create conditions beyond ordinary measure, conditions everyone recognizes as dramatic and life-altering. Iceberg-like, these are the soaring peaks of experience many of us seek in the places out beyond the realm of the known and familiar.

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But no one can live on an iceberg. And an iceberg hides more than it reveals. Every adventure must begin, and end, at home. Home is where my own journeys come truly to fruition. Home is where I make sense of all that I’ve experienced—and home is also where some of the deepest experiences of all happen.

I know many people dream of places far away when they are safe in their own little realms, and I understand that. But in my experience, the opposite is also the case: I yearn for my wife and children, our little piece of the earth, our friends and community whenever I’m away.

Only when I return to the familiar and the ordinary—as difficult as the transition can be—will my journey be complete.

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For breakfast today I had fresh eggs, kale and tomatoes—the bounty of our own backyard. My children helped me pick produce and nibbled happily at edible plants they can identify themselves.

This is the unseen part of the iceberg; the weight and the depth of it: the part that allows the peak to protrude above the plane of the ordinary existence.

With all the travel, all the wildness of being out there and all the interest and attention that goes with it, this is what I really live for.

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