Around 3:30 am

Tags: Suzan-Lori Parks

As we leave Uummannaq I wake up, get bundled in most of my layers and head up to the top deck alone in the dark morning to have another look at the Northern Lights. We’d seen them earlier from shore but away from the lights of the town they’re more spectacular. Depending on who you ask it’s God’s curtains or wafts of electrical current or spirits playing football. Watching them I feel a great joy, an expansiveness and then, moments later, as we pass an iceberg and the ship’s light blazes on it, like a dutiful hand keeping the danger at arms length, I feel my phantom tail curl under. Deep fear. Afraid of something so much bigger than me.

Do I travel to get away from myself or to find myself? Is the far-awayness of the place in direct proportion to my need to escape from my little me? They say you can find yourself in a foreign landscape. Is there an equation that can show the relationship between desire for self discovery and distance? I seem to bring along little chunks of myself stuffed in my overfull suitcase. Will I get seasick? Will I be cold? Will I lose a mitten? It only took two days for my concern about the cold weather to turn into love. That surprises me. Maybe this trip get me far enough away to lose myself, find myself and, god willing, make a difference.

You can make wishes on the Northern Lights, and so, standing up there alone in the cold, I make wishes. Many wishes. Even though a science book would assert there’s nothing magical about them, but I say they’re science and magic and we’re lost and found; small and enormous; possible and hopeless.

We got word that Obama is 8 points ahead in the polls. And I’ve been wearing my Obama t-shirt every day for luck (as a top layer so it’s not stinky). I’ll keep wearing it because it just may be lucky. Because who knows which of our most simple hopeful gestures can help. We are shamen in paradise, all of us, always and everywhere, afterall.