A Short Treatise on Cabin Fever

DENALI, ALASKA- Spending one’s time in a place as isolated as Denali is not without its drawbacks. Living and working with the same people in such a small, isolated environment becomes trying on the nerves and the soul—there are few outlets for you to just get away from everything, which is ironic considering that most people come to Alaska to just get away from something.

 

Your reality is pared down to a very particular existence, where your cares and concerns become that of the immediate environment surrounding you. It becomes difficult to separate the reality of the wider scope of your life from the reality of the current environment in which you are living. No exposure to outside stimuli of any sorts for weeks on end makes you hyper aware of the petty and inconsequential concerns of your 8-hour shift and housing situation.

 

It also means that you lose track of the relevance of the outside world. Sure, you might read the Sunday Times from cover to cover, but very little of what it’s reporting on has any significant bearing on your daily life. At the very least, when you live in a populated area, you are educating yourself about social talking points and can engage with other intellectually inclined individuals. That is decidedly not the case when you live "in the woods".

 

When it comes down to it, we all crave exposure to different things. We are creatures of routine, but we also grow tired of routine and seek something different to mix it up…but in some places, there is really nothing you can do to mix it up.  Cabin fever takes over, and this impedes your concentration—hyper-aware of the petty concerns of your daily life, you lose the ability to concentrate on things you normally care about. It was a common plague among readers at Creekside to lack the concentration to finish a book they had begun. It’s inexplicable, but true. Sometimes you just get cabin fever, and need to get out.

 McKinley Creekside Cabins, where I spent my summer

McKinley Creekside Cabins, where I spent my summer

 

In the end, we are social creatures, and we seek social interaction. Oftentimes, we need change in this arena as well—we can’t simply interact with the same people over, and over again. We need a change of scenery, which seasonal life in the woods, ironically, does not afford. Coming to Alaska to get away from it all is well and good, but only in moderation—in the end, you need to have a foothold back in the real world to get away from.