Tapestry of life

A PistenBully pulling a transport module sitting on sea ice near McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Photo by Steve Martaindale

In the previous post, I mentioned the first full-time RV’er we met in the late 1990s and suggested the anonymous man helped influence our eventual life choice for a mobile lifestyle.

That’s true, but a far more pressing influence came about in 2006-07, when I worked four months in Antarctica as a journalist chronicling scientific research and life on the Ice.

The experience itself, living on the frozen continent, was astounding and I tried to never take for granted the opportunity it provided. Among what I took away from the experience was friendships with amazing people, folks whose hunger for travel and zest for experiencing life in its many forms easily left me in their wake.

What I learned, as expressed in the Dream Chasing 101 series, was that it is possible to exist – and to exist more fully – without locking oneself into a work schedule of eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, hoping for a chance to retire with enough health remaining to enjoy the final years.

Yes, when people ask where we got the idea for our dream, it was primarily rooted in the outstanding people I got to know while working in Antarctica.

But … that’s not the real story of this post. Rather, how did I get the chance to work at such a remarkable place? That’s what I mean by tapestry of life.

Life weavings

This beginning was in the early 1990s and I was assistant editor at a small daily newspaper in Texas when we hired Jim as a new reporter. Like most entry level reporters at that size paper with the poor salaries we were allowed, he had recently graduated college.

In late summer 1994, as I was assuming the editor’s role, I hired Peter, who had just graduated college. He had no journalism training in school, but he was an excellent writer and impressed me as someone willing and able to learn the job. It was a bit of a gamble on my part but one where I picked well.

Time passed and both guys moved on. I was managing editor at a larger paper. Jim eventually found his way to a paper at a U.S. military site on a tropical island. He called me when a position was opening there and, to shorten the story, Leah and I decided this was not the right time for us to move as our daughter was entering her senior year in high school. I suggested to Jim that he contact Peter, which he did and Peter won the job. Peter met a woman there, they married and took jobs working in Antarctica, a place she had previously worked.

A few years later, Peter suggested I apply for a journalist position in Antarctica, which I did. He checked in with the two permanent people in that department and convinced them to take a second look at me. (On paper, I know I wasn’t the best-looking applicant.)

The No. 2 person in the department called for an interview and opened by telling me flat out she was doing so only as a courtesy to Peter. Before we hung up, however, I had won her over and she suggested me to the boss. That woman called me later and soon offered me the job.

Did you follow that?

I took a bit of a chance on Peter. I suggested him for the island job. He spoke up for me about the Antarctic job and that experience opened to us the idea that we could, even on our tight budget, manage to see the world.

Life’s courses and corrections are amazing. Where is your life headed? Do you need to effect some changes?

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