A momentous trip ought to have momentous takeaways. There ought to be something life-changing about going to Nome.
I’ve decided to have a second piercing in each ear. This came to me after sitting next to a woman from Boston who sported blue studs and dangling earrings. She was also incredibly smart, very athletic, an expert on addiction who supervised 19 graduate students toward their licenses, teaches yoga every day at 6:00 am, and she was 78.
I felt like a piker for all my whining about age and work and writing and not knowing what to do next. “Are you ever going to quit working?” I asked her. “No,” she laughed, “I’m going to work until I drop.” Looking at her, I knew it could be a century at least.
She’d kayaked and skied, traveled through Central America, knew the cities of India, had plans upon plans for what’s next, yet she said her biggest regret was not having children. I have children. My biggest regret is not having more gumption. This gal, man, she had gumption.
So that’s my takeaway from my trip to Alaska and especially my trip to Nome. I need to find my gumption and give it a kick in the pants.
It starts with getting a second piercing in each ear – which I’ve had before but decided was somehow ‘too much’ for my dignified self – but it doesn’t stop there. I have to push back the deep, unrelenting urge to take it easy and go hard for goals. I have to walk miles every day. If I want to be strong, I have to walk miles every day.
It’s not enough that I used to be strong, that I used to walk miles every day. I need to do it now and for the duration. I use walking as a metaphor here – a stand-in for all the hard charging I used to do, all the passion I once had for my work. There needs to be something else that burns as bright as my work once did, something else I could love that much.
I don’t know what it is but I’m going to start figuring it out by having my ears pierced again.