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Saturday, July 25, 2009

GO WEST! The Road to No-Where – a Million Dollar Bridge and the Child’s Glacier

Go West! with Christine M. West, MS, CMHT

The way people work, live and play is fascinating. Every decision or indecision leads us down a path of experience. Within our experiences we become products of our own decisions and in-decisions. Every belief, thought, emotion, action, movement, and in-action paves our path to where we are in this very moment and to the degree of our enjoyment of the experience.

To actually consciously raise our awareness to this fact, we need to learn to focus and pay attention to ourselves and the world around us. The problem is our attention and impulses are scattered in so many directions that we end up becoming an indentured servant to a world and practices that lead us to congesting our life up with stuff that doesn’t bring us joy, happiness or advancement. We end up unorganized, unfocused, stressed, depleted, confused, limited and emotionally-reactive instead of happy, successful, motivated, inspired and moving in a directed flow in the way we work, live and play.

The indentured servant ends up dancing and moving to the beat of a self-serving master that hinders our happiness. The self-serving master might-be the relationships we maintain, our employer, activities we participate in or how we behave within those activities, our decisions or indecisions, subjecting ourselves to unnecessary chaos or even our own resistance. We all have the capability within to gracefully find a natural flowing peaceful rhythm. Yet in order to do so, we need to pay attention to the signs on our road that give us that very direction.

To give an example that I recently experienced in my own life, I recently participated in a group outing with an outdoor adventure club. Expectations are a funny thing. Most of the planning of this trip was conducted through social media where participants signed up and written communication flowed back and forth between members on the website to detail the trip. Many subjective perceptions about expectations were left up to each participant to interpret, in turn resulted in many different points of view. The curious thing about expectations is when the experience exceeds our expectation, the experience becomes delightfully pleasurable. On the other hand when the experience drops below our expectation, our experience often can be frustrating and unpleasantly painful.

This journey began by leaving port Whittier, Alaska on a luxurious fast ferry with the group paired in small carpooling groups. Extra gear and supplies were able to be taken on this trip because of having vehicles traveling on the ferry with us. This seven hour fast ferry exceeded expectation because it was spacious, new, clean, and exceptionally comfortable. Everyone maneuvered around the ferry freely and naturally with the excitement to arrive in the remote land of Cordova (which can be accessed only by boat or plane). The interesting thing about the human mind is how we anticipate our experiences. We all do this. Some in the group have previously experienced Cordova and some were new to this place. For me, Cordova was uncharted ground. I admit my personal experience was so different than my anticipation. When we have a previous experience with something or someone, the mind reverts back to the last learned memory about that experience and often believes the experience will be duplicated in the same mannerism until we learn something new.

Cordova, Alaska is a scenic small town wonderland with a natural landscape that has minimal man made interference. Within the inner depths of the true wilderness are many mysterious hidden treasures to be explored and discovered. Sometimes to get moving on the path of exploration and discovery the people we are currently experiencing act as bridges to help us find our own hidden treasures. Sometimes these people trigger us to grow and move in a different direction.

Personally how I found my hidden treasure was through paying attention to the signs that helped me find the direction I needed. Often it is through being aware of our own behavior and admitting we have become the indentured servant to our self-made obstacles, our triggers and being honest with ourselves to recognize that we are blocking our own happiness. Life is a lot more fun and gratifying when we learn to truly pay attention and operate from a heightened awareness. In order to accomplish this rewarding skill, one must learn to ultimately let go of being addicted to control, the need to be right, rigid expectations and to release thoughts, beliefs, emotions or any other baggage that is interfering with finding magnificence in the experience.

One of the most difficult things for many people is to let go of control. People who behave controlling are living from an agenda that limits the full potential of the experience. Once we accept and trust that everything we are experiencing is a “Divine Universal Orchestration” to help us move in a meaningful rhythm within our fundamental nature, our perception of the experience is different. These experiences become an intuitive communication that gives us direction to find answers to the next step. The more we pay attention to these signs; life becomes more enticingly tantalizing with reward. We end up freeing ourselves from the unnecessary.

An example of what I am speaking of on this Cordova trip is we departed off the ferry and the group drove to the intended location to set up camp. This location was close to the ferry terminal and underdeveloped. Half the group immediately scattered and drove to another camp ground located at end of the Road to No-Where about 50 miles away. For me, my planned expectations started changing rapidly. For me, my intentions were to find peace, connect with nature and the people in the group, and have fun while being on an adventurous exploration. The funny interesting phenomenon going on in my experience, was receiving my exact expectation. The problem was I didn’t recognize this at first because things just did not begin how I thought it should.

This undeveloped camp ground lacked the perfection I was seeking, which was another problem in this very moment. I was tired and I am sure so were others. It was decided to camp in open area that really wasn’t a piece of land designed for camping. The approach a local woman used to communicate her concerns about the group decision caused more apprehension and confusion. The response one of our members gave back to her added more fuel onto the fire. For me I am sure there was more to this experience than what met the eye. Tension and confusion lingered in the energy of the remaining members who stayed together in this moment. When we are confused and tense stronger personalities begin to clash in which results in more limitations and confusion instead of natural enjoyment.

I came on this trip prepared with enough food and gear to survive and operate independent if needed. Yet the desire was to keep my commitments I previously made to the group and be united with them, yet at this time separation was already in progress. In separation, new agreements between people often are made in an unspoken manner. Everyone except me set up a tent at the undeveloped camp site. I chose to sleep in my truck. I needed a sanctuary to find answers and meaning behind what I was currently experiencing. I wanted direction.

Magically the answers did come to me through a metaphor in nature. This was through my own willingness to let go of control and pay attention. I am not a morning person and to my surprise I woke up at 5:00 am. It is very rare that I am up at this hour. I found myself experiencing peace, in which I liked. I sat on the back of my truck’s tailgate watching the eagles and hawks. By listening to their squawking, I learned that they were having a territory fight over what tree branch to park themselves on. This act of nature was powerful and ironic; I was having a déjà vu moment. They were extremely loud and somewhat pathetic. Each bird was very busy spending a lot of time and energy coercing one another and was not able to see other options were available to move to. These birds have wings and they could fly elsewhere yet they decided to squawk. Then another sign came. A lone wolf appeared out of the brush. The wolf was about 100 yards from me. I realized in that moment with the vision of this wolf that was peacefully care-free without trouble was not wasting time squawking, being loud or trying to control anything. I quickly adjusted and became aware of my direction. I no longer needed to concern myself with the unnecessary. I am free to roam as the wolf.

A few hours later after the group awoke, I communicated I was heading down the Road to No-Where to see what is out there. The gal who car-pooled with me decided she would go along for the ride. All others in that moment were uncertain of their direction. In this moment I had no attachment to any expectation except to find something different.

Magic did occur. On this unpaved dirt road to No-Where, dusty light winds lightly coated a caked-on-film on my red paint and windows. We frequently passed bear scat on the road. Once we moved through and past the cool rainy overcast weather, the sun came out on approximately mile 40 of this 50 mile road. It was almost as though we found a break-through point of not knowing what we would discover. We were both so grateful for the sun and the weather shift. I stopped the truck and we both stepped out. In front of us was clarity with the sky being sunny and clear and in back of us was cloudiness. We were so excited for the next 10 miles of driving. Things became even better. We traveled to the end of the Road to No-Where and discovered the Million-Dollar Bridge.

The significance and the purpose of this Bridge upon its completion in 1910, was it acted as the heart connecting the Copper River and the Northwestern Railway to transport copper. To transport this copper along this 190 mile route many obstacles needed to be overcome such as steep canyons, rivers, hurricane-force winds, mosquitoes, and dozens of glaciers. The significance of this moment was recognizing and releasing the any of our obstacles.

The moment became even better, on the other side this Million Dollar Bridge is one of nature’s greatest miracles named the Child’s Glacier. This stunning 300 foot high active glacier calved about every 15 minutes all night long. This child had a lot to voice. This natural innocence would release huge big chunks of blue ice into the river that would create big waves. When we as humans release and carve off own junk-chucks, sometimes we create big waves too.

It appeared this Child loved the attention of its audience because this glacier is the most active in Alaska. Once we connected with this part of the group who set up camp at the Glacier, we played like children. We road our bikes, hiked, some even some played in the water. We drank and cooked an outstanding meal on an open fire in a cast iron Dutch Oven in front of the Child’s Glacier. We naturally grouped together, shared and enjoyed. The sun was HOT and the skies were clear. (this area is notorious for constant rain)

The third day and final night we all regrouped together at the undeveloped camp site due to an early ferry departure. It was great that all the different parts of the group rejoined as a peaceful unified whole enjoying one another. Our fast-ferry ride home was clear and sunny.

The moral of my story is sometimes we need to be free like the wolf and travel the entire road that appears to go to no-where. If we are willing to seek, we will often find a million dollar treasure to help us eliminate obstacles and bridge us to the active child within. Once we become acquainted with the child within and remember the sound of our own voice, working, living and playing are all orchestrated from a fresh perspective. We are free to reunite with our fragments and become whole.

I am grateful and feel very blessed in experience. I thank all the people who participated in this trip and who indirectly helped me to remember the child within me.


Author: Christine M. West, TheBusinessMD, 2240 E. Tudor Rd. #976, Anchorage, Alaska, USA 99507. Phone 1-907-223-8403. Email:, Christine West is an industrial organizational psychology practitioner and is in private practice as TheBusinessMD which helps organizations and individuals overcome fear and explore the power of change. Ms. West is also a Featured Columnist for the National Networker

For more information, please visit Christine's TNNW Bio.

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Amanda said...

This was so awesome and inspiring! I loved it...yes! connecting with the child within is what it is all about!



This was a awesome Article about One's Self (Human Nature) & (Nature itself)! This Article makes a Person think of what is holding them back to being completely Happy with One's Self. Great Job in exploring both sides.

Best Regards Your Friend,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderfully illuminating perspective. It's awesome.

Hanmi said...

Cool! I can't believe that there is a road to nowhere called Million-Dollar Bridge... Nice stuff!

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