Tuesday, February 03, 2004

As I was working today, I received a letter from Juneau, Alaska. When I make contact, passively or actively, with places like that, or people who have lived in places like that, it captures my imagination. I was raised with World Book Encyclopedias readily available at all times, though, so rather than simply speculate, I looked the place up on the web. I've always wondered what Juneau is like. I found some pictures, but something which interested me even more was this statement:

"Juneau (pop. 30.000) on the ‘Gastineau Channel’ is the capitol of Alaska. No roads lead to Juneau, you either take a plane or a boat to get there. When you travel by plane (just over two hours from Seattle or an hour and a half from Anchorage) you take a chance. Rain, snow and fog can be bad in Juneau and quite often the airport must close down, so that travelers end up in either Seattle or Anchorage instead of Juneau."

As I read this I wondered what a "normal" life is like up there. I wondered if there were a lot of strangers in Juneau, whether you grow up waiting for your first plane ride out, or whether plane rides are simply a part of everyday life; and the weather--what is it like for an Alaskan who grew up in Juneau to be down here, or for a Californian to go up there? Not exactly deep questions, but valid nonetheless, I think. The "normal" human experience is so limited by our incapability to imagine what is other than ourselves or our own experience.
Standing yesterday in the art gallery observing the art of some of my friends and acquaintances, I thought to myself, maybe, just maybe that's one of the reasons art is so important; it's one of the things which truly takes us outside ourselves.

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