Click. Click. Click. Right now, I'm addicted to iPhoto and distracted by my own thoughts.
As I click through photos and write this, I'm contemplative. We're in Denali National Park about to take off for our final adventures here in Alaska. We're basking in this chance to reboot and in having some time to reconnect with technology (yep, we're tech junkies) before heading back out.
Reveling in both a gigantic cup of coffee and a blazing fast Internet connection, I am perfectly content. I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I scan the photos we've snapped so far. To be able to see and experience all of this - we're lucky guys.
The only problem is... I'm irritated that others don't see it that way.
I click on a beautiful photo and flash back.
"I told them we wouldn't walk far," said the able-bodied – but highly agitated – woman when the shuttle dropped her off about 40 feet from the door of her hotel room.
Her husband incoherently grumbled something horrible in the general direction of the driver.
I, feeling equally sour (over their attitudes), thought "How much closer do you want to get your lazy asses dropped off."
Instead of actually saying anything and risking the wrath of these two dragons, I peered out the shuttle window with such intensity that others must have though I saw a UFO. I was embarrassed for this couple and by the not uncommon mentality that screams "Hey everyone! The world revolves around me. Act accordingly."
I put my head back on the high-backed shuttle seat and went into a nefarious, pessimistic spiral. (Hey, don't judge. Unbridled negativity is pretty rare in NVR land, so I decided to lean into it.)
Yep, before eventually turning my own attitude around, I proceeded to do a mental inventory of similar experiences we had encountered in Alaska. So many people mad as hell about something - usually benign. Things like not seeing moose and, oh, get this one... the long summertime days in Alaska. "How can you expect us to sleep with the sun shining in at 11:00 pm?!" One woman barked as though the hotel clerk could actually do something about it.
So, yes, I'm looking at pictures like this and getting especially irritated by entitled travelers.
During summertime, Alaska is a hot piece of trampled over real estate, so we're sharing this brief window of opportunity with lots of other visitors. Because of that, this journey – in particular – has exposed us to a lot of… hmmm, shall I say difficult people.
I take a gulp of my coveted non-camp coffee (that I'm clutching as though it's the last I'll ever have) and try to wrap my head around where this irritation is coming from. My mind wanders back to a glowing, great-energied couple we met earlier.We immediately got a refreshing vibe from them.
I remember turning to Caanan and saying "They're so positive. I want to get to know them!" Our itineraries were similar, so my wish became a reality.
I guess I'm a visual, because the following scene is now burned into my brain...
Sitting on cramped chairs in a bustling, expansive hotel lobby, one of our new friends dashed off for a moment. The other smoothly told us that they are both sick. The kind of sick that doesn't go away. He slid it into the conversation so gracefully that my brain had to catch up with his words.
In that second, I felt a ginormous wave of emotion move from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. I pretended to be distracted by the continuos wave of passersby because turning into a blubbering mess wasn't something I thought would be too cool in the moment. I decided to awkwardly rummage through my backpack in search of a mysterious something that, in truth, didn't exist.
Killing seconds. Breathing slowly. Figuring out what to say. Unable to speak.
"Why aren't these two grumbling about walking 40 feet?" I thought.
Instead, the other returned and, with their positivity dials turned up to 10, they said they wanted to join us on a trail run to the top of a 3500 foot mountain. They were having such a great time in Alaska; they didn't want to miss a thing.
"We just need to be a little careful," one said.
As the four of us hiked and jogged to the top of that mountain, enjoying the cool, crisp air and the nearly neon blanket of autumnal colors, I thought about the kind of person that I want to be. The kind of attitude I want to have. The kind of outlook that I want to define me.
Later that night, we talked about how our new friends had inspired us and how we felt like ding dongs for bitching about the slightly rough beginning to our Alaska adventure (and other moronic crap). Another good reminder to check ourselves. Regularly.
So… finishing up my coffee and going through the remaining photos, I'm pumped to get back out there. We have many more mind-blowing moments to come as we dive into the last part of our visit. We've agreed to stay focused on positive people who inspire us and not the people whose sole purpose for getting up in the morning – it seems – is to make others miserable.
We know how lucky we are to be able to witness this magnificence. To be able to make it to the top of a mountain. To be able to have a coffee and a tech addiction. To not be sick. To have the freedom of choice and the gift of opportunity.
What's your take on entitlement?