Unexpected Side Effects

One of the unexpected side effects of this whole “Pole” thing is a touch of local celebrity. Closet Antarcticans are coming out and telling me that this is something they’ve always wanted to do, and friends are proudly introducing me to their acquaintances as “that guy who’s going to the South Pole”.

It’s endearing, and I love the kindness these wonderful people are showering on me, but have to admit feeling a little self-conscious – I mean, I’ve not actually done anything remarkable yet. Well, maybe I have – maybe, for the moment, I get to serve as the vicarious embodiment of people following their dreams. That I definitely am doing, and not doing it lightly. But, of course, I’m not doing it on my own, not by any means. I can’t emphasize enough just how inconceivably supportive my family and colleagues have been in making this possible. I mean, Devon – she’s going to be trudging along as a single mom with our kids throughout the winter. And yet she’s been my strongest advocate – perhaps because she knows I wouldn’t do this unless she convinced me she wanted me to chase this dream?

And my team at work – Arthur and Ken and Mamie, who’ve taken over all the crazy challenges of running Labs while I distract myself with with fool’s errand (hi, guys!), and my manager Peter, who managed to twist our HR department’s arm into letting me take on an adventure that violates just about every clause in our “personal leave” policy – they’ve bent over backward to make this work for me. Why? Well, for starters, they’re amazingly nice guys. And who knows – maybe they saw what I’m just now starting to understand: that what I’m doing, as mundane as the actual helpdesk-at-the-south-pole job is, touches on something vaguely Jungian, a story that is important to us, our culture, our sense of who we are.

I dunno. But in the meantime, my friends are showering me with all sorts of endearing attention and thoughtful gifts. At last night’s musicmaking, longtime friend and officemate Barry presented me with a customized “South Pole compass”. How could you not feel honored by something like this?

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