January 2005
Whenever I think the West Coast is cold, I need to go visit the East Coast for a dose of perspective-shaping bitter cold.  I’m a fervent fan of layers, often wearing 4 shirts when it gets chilly and wet in Seattle or Vancouver.  But every winter trip to the East Coast, I’ve had to add tights to the list.  A friend calls it ‘bracing.’  I can’t help but grin.  Coming from Alaska (over a decade ago) cold is cold is cold, and bracing or not, it’s all about the layers you have on.

Layers have been percolating through my head recently. Layers of snow hammering Boston and New York while I visit in January.  I have finally been lost in the layers of history and art in the Met.  Layers of senses bring alive the wintry smell of blowing snow and taxi exhaust whisking across my face.  Layers of events that add to life.  Layers of clothes as the Seattle weather does its weirdness, causing daffodils and tulips to burst into bloom in February.  Layers of dust in the corners of my apartment, exposed to my tired eyes by the vibrant spring sunlight.  Layers of humanity seen on the streets on both coasts.  Layers of history exposed by bricks peeking through worn pavement.  Layers of me, as I continue my journey through self-discovery, adding and removing layers of experiences and reactions, preconceptions and realizations.

The last year has proved fascinating.  It’s always interesting to see how an animal (human or otherwise) deals with stress.  Stress can bring the non-contemplated reactions more to the forefront, exposing strengths, fears, weaknesses, and idealizations.  I’ve dealt with more decisions that could, can, and will re-arrange my world in the last year than in the decade prior.  I know I haven’t been tested to my limits (still here, not a shell of myself), and very definitely not to my humane limits as those struggles of the world have landed in other people’s laps.  I’ve had my trusty bicycles, trusted friends and trust in myself to carry me through.  I can believe that I’ve enjoyed being in it and through it (even with the lack of sleep), watching my rusty layers stretched and re-molded, whisked off, some forever, some replaced within moments.

  My commute in Seattle is a 8 block walk.  Those 8 blocks have been a high time for contemplation.  What am I doing?  Did I do the right thing a year ago, 6 months ago, 1 month ago, today?  What options do I have?  My nature is to desire freedom, the freedom to chase possibilities and opportunities.  I was born Peter Allan Newbury.  My father added Chase soon after; I don’t think he or I knew how appropriate it was.  I walk though Pike Place Market in the morning, watching vendors opening, awash in layers of colourful fruit.  I’ve heard anecdotes of high-tech success-ites who one day backed away from their mayhem to run a low-stress, hang-out job.  I can’t say it hasn’t appealed, and especially on the bad days.  But when I look at the potentials, at the things I can learn, the exhilaration of nurturing every day and every opportunity into something to believe in, it’s hard to turn away.  It’s hard to turn away from chasing through my layers to find that molten, fluid core that simply is.  What do I do with this core?  There is no longer a why or a choice, there is simply an ‘is’, a feeling, an emotion, a drive.  How can I harness the raw power of this core for what I believe in?

I’ve long believed that you get one shot with this world. Go big or go home.  Chose your path and make it sing for you.  As I walk my chosen path of possibilities and probabilities, urging it to voice the wonders of life, I wonder why.  And then I wonder how.  And then last, what if.  Why is all of this here?  Why does this core within me strive so hard?  How does history affect us? What if I do this?  So many questions, such a small time to be alive, examining.  And so few answers to find.  In years previous, that lack of answers would worry me, make me wonder what I was missing.  There is a certain beauty to existence now that didn’t exist in those years previous.  In the midst of this stress, in the midst of this exhaustive and intensive re-layering, this alchemy, I’ve lost something.  I was so driven for so long, trying to prove myself, both to the world and to myself.  That drive still exists, but the need for proof has been tempered with a calmness that exhilarates me.

Sometimes I like to smile at myself in a mirror.  It reminds me that I am alive and well.

Peter Newbury's Published Adventures