Here are a couple more passages from Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland, that I noted as I was reading. This will easily be one of my favorite books of the year.
On Sitka, AK:
Sitka suited me. It was about as small as you could get and still have the five things a town needs as a place to live: 1. A community college to take or teach classes. 2. A good public library. 3. A National Park for access to the knowledge of the naturalists and historians. 4. A warm-water swimming pool. 5. A thrift shop. Use money for plane fare, boats, and good wine, not for clothes and oddments you can buy second-hand. My “TS principle” isn’t Eliot or Tough Shit, it’s Thrift Shops.
On life in general:
“If you had a year to do anything you wanted, and had all the money you needed, and could come back to where you are now, what would you do?”
Most people had been living on expediency: what needed to be done that hour, that day. They’d never asked the big question. When they had the answer, my next question was, “Why aren’t you doing it?”
Then came the obvious answers. “I don’t have the money. I do have kids, a family, a job, a mortgage.”
“When can you do it? Can you do part of it? How can you plan toward it?”
We all need to ask those questions every five years, then act on the answers. You get plenty of advice on planning your whole life, but five years is long enough. After age 50 you can narrow it down to a two-year plan. Beyond 60, it’s a one year plan. Beyond that?
And one more:
Doing what you want to do isn’t a question of can you or can’t you, yes or no, but deciding what your ultimate desire and capability is and then figuring out the steps to accomplishment. It’s “I’m going to. Now how? What gear will I need? What skills will I need? What will it cost? When will it happen? When I succeed, what next?”