For almost four years I've been stuck in the polar ice of Arctic Dreams, a beautiful book by Barry Lopez. It is a deeply treasured gift from a dear friend because I've long had a fascination with the Arctic. The writer thoughtfully and poetically reflects on the history, biology and spirituality of the far north and his own relationship with that mysterious and wonderful landscape. I love how - even in the most dense scientific and historical passages of the book - there is a meditative quality to Lopez's writing. I'm a slow reader at the best of times but even more so with Arctic Dreams. I've been unpacking this one at a glacial pace. How appropriate.
Most of all, I value the attentive humility that the writer brings to a mysterious landscape and it's people. Early European explorers who did not respect the wisdom of the Inuit and who treated the land as something to be conquered largely failed in their conquests - either by aborting their expeditions or by harsh death. On the other hand, those who approached the land and the people with humility, enjoyed amazing, nearly impossible discoveries in the north. It's a lesson that is still applicable, as the dream chasing and exploitation continues in so many other realms of human experience. We still have a lot to learn about the nature of ambition and at what (and at whose) expense those dreams are realized.
In my own little corner (and wrestling with ambition), I hope the lessons of respect for all people and places will reverberate wherever the music takes me.
Wishing you all a peaceful holiday.