Saturday, August 27, 2011

Abisko - Arctic 'Adventure'

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Illured by Abisko's fame, -- situated about 200 km north of the arctic circle, and having the longest hiking trail along the Scandinavian mountain range, -- I flew from Stockholm, transferred a bus, dragged luggage for one mile, and finally arrived in Abisko Mountain lodge, starting my two-day hiking trip in this arctic national park.

I have no expectation of travel stops, which usually brings me joyful surprise later. However, I cannot hide my disappointment when I started walking around Abisko, -- what's the difference from a hike in the upper New York state? Is it worth all the trouble? Maybe I should have come here in the most exciting season, winter, when skiing, snowshoeing, and aurora (polar light, Dance of the Spirit) all become available. At least I should have come here NOT on raining and windy days... To be honest, the scenery is good but ordinary, seemingly not worthy of additional cost and strenuous transportation.

However, I am here. That is the only fact, as cruel as chilly rain and muddy trail. Without any other choice in such an outlandish area, I keep walking and walking till forgetting time and walking out of my grumble. Only then do I start to be aware of view, sound, and feeling between me and nature. I am so glad that I eventually did so!


(Abisko Canyon)

Wind sends me Robert Frost's poem, the Road not Taken. I suddenly perceive another feeling. I used to think that the poem is about regret and personal myth-taking. But, ...

Everyone is a traveler choosing the roads to follow on the map of one's continuous journey, life. There is never a straight path that leaves one with but a sole direction in which to head, rather it is filled with twists and turns. "And sorry I could not travel both..." It is always difficult to make a decision because it is impossible not to wonder about the opportunity cost. In an attempt to make a decision, the traveler "looks down as far as I could". But eventually the road surpasses one's vision and one cannot see where it is going to lead.

Yet it's the road one choose that makes her whoever she is. In the beginning I thought to myself why I choose hiking on such a rainy chilly messy day for the so-so scenery. Then I cognise that the situation is irreversible and complaint helps nothing. It's my attitude toward such situation that can change my sense of happiness. I stop thinking of my own feeling, rather to apperceive grass, mushroom, unknown flower, and to touch the raindrop, to listen to the wind's whisper... The world becomes peaceful!

To my surprise, there then comes the sun penetrating thick clouds and smiling to the botany. Let there be light, light was there. Let there be color, color was there. Though the precious sunshine only shows up for a very short moment, it do sheds light and color into my heart.

Another interlude of the trip is that I got lost. The heavy rain changes the road so that I cannot recognize my return way. For a half hour I haven't met any other person, which adds my uneasiness. Once again I start to say to myself, "Accept the situation. Be aware of your sensation and trust your judgement." It turns out that I have chosen the right way and I finally find the trail sign leading to my lodge.

The Abisko trip is neither exotic nor adventurous. However it comes at such a difficult moment in my life. I have been contemplating various choices in the future and been juggling potential solutions for a few weeks. I couldn't find a clear answer, sad and worried. Yet I know clearly now that I will take whatever life gives me and accept it wholeheartedly. Whichever road it is, chosen by me or not, for or against my willingness, I live on that particular road. Devoting myself in every moment on the road will eventfully make me who I am, whether or not "I took the one less traveled by".

Being present is the real and only moment.


Photographed by Jennie Bai.
Copyright ©Jennie Bai. All Rights Reserved.

Related articles:
          Abisko I - Arctic 'Adventure'
          Abisko IV - Alpine Flower
          Abisko V - Epilogue

1 comment:

Unknown said...

An interesting experience (a solo hiking trip), and very positive attitude. Thanks for sharing.

Slightly disagree on "taking whatever life brings to me", we sometimes are able to choose what kind of life experience we want.

Love and hug,