There have been many a day, night, that this Robert Service poem kept me going.
Oh, I’m not talking about Dauntless, or challenges of the sea, that’s the easy stuff, as is a number of things I’ve done in my life,
No, I’m talking about the tough stuff, like having a small business, and dreading the call from the bank, in which I had to cover to checks before day’s end. Teaching, being in front of 30 kids, who while they do want to learn, being teenagers, they feel their job is to really make you earn it and if you don’t come up to their expectations, they will let you know in that cruel way only teenagers can do.
Being a principal of a school that was ultimately slated to close, that was full of adults who thought they had no responsibility for that outcome.
Robert Service came into my life, in 1985, when I had moved back to Alaska for the second time. Leonie and I took many trips to the end of the road: up the Haul Road to Prudhoe Bay; down the Alaska Highway to Dawson, in the Yukon and of course down the Steese Highway to Central (where two families got into a real gun shooting feud form their respective porches) and Circle Hot Springs, The road to the Kennecott Copper Mines, where one had to leave the car and pull yourself over a river sitting in a bucket and lastly, numerous drives, many late into the night between Anchorage and Fairbanks, sometimes with temperatures below minus 40° F &C, with the car losing oil every mile because the block could not warm up enough driving 70 mph at those temps.
So many a night, I would read this poem, knowing I had no choice but to press on, that the next day would be better, sometimes it was, sometimes not.
But, it got me here, and life couldn’t be better. So I’d thought I’d share.