For our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, my husband, Gary, and I took an Alaskan cruise. And so, in this anniversary month, I booked a cruise to the last frontier as a brave-making venture. Alone.
All photos by Marlys unless otherwise noted
It’s infinitely more comfortable to wrap the security blanket of my routine around me — with stacks of books and pots of tea nearby — than it is to travel alone without my best friend/tour director/husband.
Here’s what I eventually learned:
1. Courage doesn’t magically re-materialize by itself.
2. I have to practice brave-making; it’s not a once-and-done thing.
Hence, the solo trip to Alaska.
The highlights of this particular adventure are what you would expect: Canoeing across a lake and around a point to view Mendenhall Glacier up close and personal.
Mendenhall Waterfall (photo by canoe mate)
Steaming into Hubbard Glacier Bay to observe the calving.
Blue ice of Hubbard Glacier (photo by shipmate)
A catamaran into Sitka Sound to spot otters and eagles …
Bald eagle in Sitka Sound
… and chance upon a pod of whales cavorting.
The captain shut off the engine for several minutes so we could hear the mammals breath in and then exhale through their blow holes before launching into a beautifully-choreographed dance, flipping their tails to awe us.
Whale after whale after whale.
The catamaran crew said they’d never seen anything like it.
And Fortress of the Bear, a safe haven for orphaned bears.
But there was an unexpected highlight, as well.
That first dinner onboard ship, I opted to eat alone. But the next day was a scheduled lunch for “solo travelers,” which I’m guessing is a nice way of saying, “People with no friends onboard.”
Why not? I thought. Which took a bit of courage.
And after that lunch I was hooked.
I wanted to eat the rest of my meals with as many different people as possible. And I wanted to hear their stories: What was your favorite place in the world to visit? How did you two meet and fall in love? Where would you like to travel next?
I recently came across this thought from H. Jackson Brown, Jr.:
Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
This describes me. My husband’s cancer, and eventually widowhood, stole my audacity.
And so I have to practice being brave. I have to pretend I have courage until … well, until I actually have courage.
Because I want a heart that is audacious; I want to live my remaining days with an unruly and holy resoluteness in order to make a difference in my corner of the world.
Which begs the question: What have you done lately that made you braver? I’d love to hear about it.
P.S. If know someone who needs to take a brave-making venture, please share, tweet or pin!