The single hardest, most personal aspect of living a good life in the wilderness and bush of Alaska, the remote mountains of the Wrangle -St. Elias National Park and Preserve, is not the physical work and strain.
The most difficult part of living the lifestyle in the remote area with so few people, the lifestyle and choice to live a productive and free life, is learning to deal with one’s self.
There is no possible way of living an honest way, if it is based on lies or fairy tales inside one’s self. Non of us humans are perfect, we all know this. Each of us has the power and knowledge to look closely at ourselves and see what needs to change.
Someone said something to me, not long ago, maybe I read it, I do not recall for certain. The things we find the most fault with in others, is what we are most ashamed or appalled by in ourselves.
See, here is the catch. We are Pioneer Outfitters. We operate a training program for Wilderness Survival and Big Game Guides. You cannot be completely solid in this endeavor, which is based on leading, directing people and keeping them safe, if you cannot control and or deal with yourself.
How can you control situations elsewhere, with other people, if you do not have that control and understanding of yourself?
Answer, you can’t.
Cliche’ …. “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?”
It isn’t easy. That is no joke. It isn’t something you can buy or go to school for. It starts with being brutally honest with yourself, first. Asking yourself, “is this a problem or is it MY problem?”
Another cliche’ “you are your own worst enemy.”
That last concept, that cliche’ was in its self a light switch at the end of the long dark tunnel that needs to be traveled.
For myself, that understanding allowed me to “turn the light on.” It also revealed the truth with the light, dealing with myself (and all my own personal demons and dramas), controlling myself and my own actions and reactions to people and events that surround me.
As the Manager to Pioneer Outfitters, the lead guide and Trainer to the Survival & Guide Training, I often repeat to new-comers that living and working in a place like Chisana will, without fail, bring out the best and worst that an individual has to offer.
“Dealing with yourself” is the hardest part of living and growing, improving one’s self, to accept, to learn and to practice. As I tell each trainee the first time, each time, I can see they do not understand.
Living here in Chisana, so remote and away from the busy noise of any village, town or city; living with the same few people that are your co-workers and teammates, you basically run out of people to blame.
Blame? Yes. Blame for your own personal demons, issues and set-backs. After a bit of time, the only common factor becomes obvious. It is one’s self. Yourself.
There is no “escape”. There is no neighborhood arcade or bowling alley, local tavern, shopping mall or movie theater. No restaurants or bars, no busy streets or grocery store or Post Office. There are no strangers, no Friday night dates. There are only your co-workers, teammates and trainees.
Only one relief is feasible. Only one solution makes any sense at all.
Deal with yourself. Learn, train and understand.
Honesty, brutal-bare-knuckled-honesty is absolutely necessary.