It’s 3 month until we leave for our expedition and I’m completely obsessed with finding my lost green jacket. It’s my lightweight Patagonia down hoody that I purchased to wear in the tent at the South Pole. That jacket will welcome me home after a hard day’s work dragging my sled across the cold vastness of Antarctica. Putting on that jacket is like a comforting, warm embrace, the kind my mom gives after a long separation. I’ll feel safe. Wearing it signals that it’s time to get down to the business of tent chores — boiling water from snow, feasting on dehydrated soup and dinner, and calling in our daily information to ALE.
Marty says, “Chris, why are you obsessing about the coat, I’m sure you’ll find it.” Rationally I know that I can replace the coat with a new one before we depart, but that’s not the point. The point is that I feel like I’m starting to lose control. I’m overwhelmed with the reality that our departure date is quickly approaching. Every day our “to-do” list beckons. My emotions stir like a kettle of water ready to boil. Soon I’ll be away from everything warm, comforting and familiar. Soon I won’t be able to provide that same comfort to my 12-year old son.
If I could just find that jacket, I tell myself, everything will be fine. Order will be restored. This feeling reminds me of other times I’ve committed to goals that are equally exciting and daunting. Before my expedition to Mt McKinley, grappling with the uncertainty of the experience, I relentlessly focused on my sock and glove choices. Before my first 100-mile trail race, I obsessed about the food I put into my drop bags that I’d pick up at aid stations along the way.
So for now, I focus my attention and emotion on the missing jacket, my scapegoat for the complex web of emotions attached to our journey, one that will surely provide unforeseen challenges and rewards.