It’s the day after the wedding, and I’m leaving Alaska.
It was a hectic storm of activity for the last few days. It was full of wonderful people, great stories, and some truly awesome food. Not to mention the most extreme location wedding I’ve ever been to. Never before have I ever had to ride a ski lift in a suit to take wedding pictures on the top of a mountain.
Throughout all of it: the canoeing down a creek, the hiking up a mountain, and the fair amount of beer that was drunk in the spirit of celebration and joy. There were three realizations made apparent to me in a pretty big way.
- Life is so much more about people than things:
This is super clichéd. I mean, every Hallmark Channel movie, and pretty much every novel ever written, will attempt to slam this idea into your brain with varying amounts of force.
This wedding had ten bridesmaids and four groomsmen. Seven of those bridesmaids (some of them with significant others) slept in the bride’s father’s house. There were also two dogs, the bride’s father, some random friends, and the bride and groom themselves.
All of this is minorly interesting, but not earth-shattering. The cool part was we all got along with no real issues. From the moment the girlfriend and I stepped foot in the house, we were welcome. In a few short days, a group of incredibly diverse people became pretty close. Breakfast seemed to always be a huge production that involved lots of coffee, laughing, and attempting to figure out where your clothes had gone.
The wedding was an extension of this. It was a huge party of friends, everyone genuinely seemed to enjoy each other’s company, and there was barely any drama. It was low budget and low key.
But, the love in the room was something truly special.
2. True love don’t give a f*ck
It’s weirdly reassuring to know that brides and grooms can fight like cats and dogs the day before the ceremony, and then still be so obnoxiously in love the next day you want to go and listen to metalcore for a few hours until your ears bleed.
I was a groomsman, and the girlfriend was a bridesmaid. Throughout the last few hours, both the bride and the groom had to be talked down from various tizzies they had managed to work themselves up into. Usually about each other. But, cue the wedding, the ceremony, all of the fancy clothes, and everyone was on point and spectacular.
3. How freaking important wild open spaces are.
Being in Milwaukee and so focused on working, karate, and my own little world made me forget about all sorts of other aspects of life. For example, anything outside of the karate dojo.
This trip to Alaska, in all of its mountainous, beautiful, and completely wild glory, made me realize there is so much more to life than working and focusing on what’s next. It a lesson I heard and learned several times in the last 10 years. But it’s one that I seem to often need a reminder about. A focus on nature, and our place in it, is something that is incredibly important.
Being surrounded by mountains, seeing black bears, floating down a creek, and hiking a mountain all in the span of a few days drove this concept home in a pretty significant manner. I’m physically tired. Hell, I’m exhausted. But I’ve also never felt more alive and ready for adventure.
Living this way is harder in Milwaukee. Milwaukee isn’t surrounded by a natural beauty that essentially grabs you by the nose and drags you into a new experience. It doesn’t have every kind of outdoor activity imaginable a mere 20 minutes away in the same way that Anchorage does. But, it does have adventures waiting for the people determined enough to find them. The only trick is being aware, and maintaining the motivation to go out and experience them.
More than anything, this trip made me remember who I want to be, and how I want to spend my life. I love what I do, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but there is so much more out there. And I want to go explore everything.