A Truly Unconnected Christmas
A few Christmases ago, I had the unexpected good fortune to travel to Antarctica. It had to do with a book I was writing at the time. Something to do with my usual beat of fish, health and the environment. It no longer feels important.
What I ended up really learning from the experience is that there is something unfathomably valuable about looking day after day at landscapes that have no human presence. Slowly and steadily I came to realize my incredibly transient place in the world. In a few days I learned the lesson that a bazillion hours on a meditation cushion had been trying to drum into my head.
Every “morning” I would wake and look through my porthole at the endless expanse of ice. I put morning in quotes because really there is no discernible morning or evening during the Antarctic summer. The sun just spins around the sky, giving you endless days of the same snow and ice. There are also no real time zones in Antarctica. Yes, the different countries of the world have decided that they should each have a say in what time it is in “their” part of Antarctica. But really it’s just as arbitrary as any of the other bric-a-brac that humanity throw ups as the dull skein it uses to obscure from us the true nature of, well, nature.
Likewise there became over time a palpable yet not at all documentable change that took place by coupling that experience with not having access to a phone, computer or tablet. On the rare moments when I looked over at the screen of a fellow traveller I was struck by how unsubtle and jarring the images were. And when that same traveller swiped from image to image — even more so.