On a side street in Talkeetna, Alaska

On a side street in Talkeetna, Alaska

All day I had a red wine and dark chocolate hangover.

It’s what happens when you pour wine into hotel glasses. Your sense of proportion goes out the window.

The same is true about giant chocolate bars. As long as you don’t eat the entire thing, just tiny delicate pieces, you stay disconnected from consequences.

But there were consequences. I felt the consequences in my all-day headache and a mushrooming ennui.

Tonight I read the news that one of my favorite mushers, Lance Mackey, is in the lead of the Iditarod but it’s just 30 or so hours into the race and the lead will change many times in the next many days. I also read that one musher scratched because she injured her shoulder, another went 65 miles the wrong way and one got soaked crossing a river that normally would have been frozen. Mitch Seavey had to replace his #1 (lead) dog with his #17 dog at the starting line yesterday and his son, Dallas Seavey, is mushing sick. Dee Dee Jonrowe, the subject of last night’s post, is running 59th.

A lot is going on out there on the Iditarod Trail. Unbeknownst to us, though, since the Iditarod is a race run on a trail through the Alaska wilderness, interrupted by checkpoints that can only be gotten to by plane or snow machine. The racing is almost entirely unseen. It’s as if the Indy 500 started with a great to-do and then the cars disappeared into a giant tunnel, only emerging hours later at mile 495.

So all day I have been missing them, the mushers and the dogs. Their handsomeness and health. It’s as if their absence made my little hangover that much more dulling, yesterday’s contagious elation replaced by a low grade flu. Oh well.

The truth of the matter is that I envy them, the mushers and the dogs. But it isn’t their handsomeness or their health that I envy. I envy their sense of purpose.

I have a good life. I do good things. But I don’t have a driving sense of purpose anymore. I raised my children. Tried saving the world. And then I just started dialing down, kicking back, relaxing. And it felt great not to feel driven. It’s somebody else’s turn to work insane hours and get tied in knots about projects. It’s my turn to care less.

I liked being purposeless for a while but I don’t think I like it anymore. Yet I don’t want my old purposes back. I don’t want to work a lot harder or raise any more children. I’m in the market for a completely new purpose, nothing previously owned, entirely new.

I want what they have, the mushers and the dogs.