In advance, I’d like to apologize for what could inevitably be more of a raging positive review of this book than a truly intellectual study of it in some way. Like Anna, I’m only partway through, but I’m really loving it, more than anything else we’ve read thus far. I’m glad Janelle left it for last, because I do think it’s the best written, most engaging, most relatable, and isn’t giving me stress headaches in anticipation of difficult struggles for survival. The subtitle, “Journeys Along the Arctic Edge,” gives the impression of campfire stories rather than a study for posterity of how a tragedy unfolded, like so many of the other books on the syllabus.
I especially love the way Fredston focuses on the parallels of her relationship with the wild places she explores and her personal relationships. Even more than paralleling, these relationships inform each other. Fredston apparently adventures / explores not out of the intense need for “creative expression” as we’ve read about previously, but because she learns so much from the places she visits. I especially appreciated the lack of summit fever thus far – neither Jill nor her husband are trying to prove anything or win any renown; they just love to explore the farther reaches of the habitable world in an emotionally, mentally, and physically stimulating manner. On page XVI of the preface, Fredston remarks on the nature of journeys: “In the process of journeying, we seem to have become the journey, blurring the boundaries between the physical landscape outside of ourselves and the spiritual landscape within.” She speaks a few sentences later of using the rowing and the journey through unknown places as a means of discovering an “interior compass.” This supports what I’ve developed as my own thesis for the question “Why adventure?” We adventure, we challenge ourselves in places bigger than us, in order to discover ourselves. The challenge teaches us what we can and can’t do, inspires us to respect the world and everything in it, reminds us of how small we are, and teaches us to instill the greatest value possible on our own brief lives. We adventure that we might live bigger, because it is human nature to want more. Steve Jobs would understand. I bet he was a fan of adventure narratives.