Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chasing Lights & Fighting Demons

Life is made up of moments.
Moments of happiness.
Moments of sadness.
Moments of anticipation.
Moments of fear.
Moments of regret.
Moments of change.
Moments of growth.

I'm that girl who jumped out of a plane last year, fed a lion and moved interstate without much notice at all. Though it may appear that I'm also that girl who is up for anything, happy to push the boundaries and at times risk her life in the name of adventure, up until recently I was petrified of heights.... and quite nervous about boats.

I know, I know, this sounds ludicrous. How could someone who enjoyed a good hike up a mountain, and catches planes regularly, not to mention jump out of them, be scared of heights? I'm sorry but I can't explain it. It's how I've always been. That is, until Tromso.

You see, I was in Tromso to chase the Aurora Borealis and my adventure took some interesting turns, and surprising heights. I hung out with a pack of snow dogs for a couple of days, watched arctic seals in their natural environment and ate gluten free pizza in a log cabin, but these moments weren't the moments that shaped me and contributed to my continuing personal growth.

When I arrived in Tromso it was snowing, fierce, and it didn't really stop until my last day there, when it decided to start raining. The Aurora Borealis wasn't in sight. Over the first few nights I went out into the woods with a pack of snow dogs, made a wood fire and drank soup, enjoying the native wildlife which stirred around us. One evening we even had a visit from a small pack of wolves who were quickly ordered home by our dogs. Alas, this was the most excitement on these excursions, as it was not clear enough for the lights to dance for us.

I had been told that the best way to see the lights was via a boat out in the ocean between Norway and Greenland. I booked an evening dinner cruise, even with my discomfort on boats, and just settled for the fact that I would have to suck it up as I had not come this far not to see the Northern lights. The cruise, to my disbelief was nice and steady, even with choppy water and the appearance of an iceberg (titanic moment! I managed to keep my cool).
Still... no lights... but that experience has definitely improved my comfort around boats.

So where was I to go? It was my last day in Tromso. It was cold (minus 15 degrees anyone?). It was still snowing, and I was still kicking a head cold I'd met upon arriving in Norway. I figured, if I couldn't return with the satisfaction of seeing the Aurora Borealis, I would at least leave Tromso having combated that mountain I had been staring at since I arrived.

Storsteinen is 1378 feet tall. It has a cable car that takes passengers to a platform just below the peak, and those who dare ski down the big rock trying not to crash into the abundance of trees and whatever else may be hiding under the deep snow. It is not recommended to climb the mountain, especially not during blizzards when avalanches are more common, so I had one option. Climb into that little cable car and hope that I got to the top safely. I will tell you that on the way up that cart did sway from side to side and I felt my heart in my stomach, but no harm came to me and suddenly it was like a weight was lifted.

What was I so worried about before? How many things had my fear held me back from?

And the most magical thing of all, that night the snow stopped and I saw the lights. Not from a boat, or in the depths of the woods, but right outside my hotel in my city. They danced for me and I felt a glow within me, a moment of peace and of wonderment. I believe that all things happen for a reason and the lights waiting to come out for me on my final night was to farewell me and to remind me that life is a beautiful thing and it should be experienced, explored and enjoyed to the fullest. I was meant to face my fears and I did.