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Reflect, Recalibrate, Realign

I need to push myself, kindly and gracefully, to hone my practice of quietness and mindfulness.

Pool of water. Thinkstock.

One evening earlier this week, my son and I read a book titled Mush! Across Alaska in the World’s Longest Sled-Dog Race. I’d read about the history of mushing at some point, but this book sharpened my memory.

Back in the early 1900s, during Alaska’s Gold Rush era, people flooded into the village of Nome. They lived in tight, unsanitary quarters, ideal conditions for the spread of disease. In January 1925 a diphtheria epidemic struck Nome. Sled dogs were used to rush lifesaving medicine from other parts of Alaska to Nome.

Decades later, Joe Redington wanted to find a way to honor the brave dogs who made that transport of medicine possible. The first race, along an old supply trail, the Iditarod Trail, from Anchorage to Nome (over 1000 miles), took place in 1973.

That March, and every March since, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has taken place. To think about the training the dogs and the musher (driver) do is mind-blowing. To think about the weather conditions throughout the race is daunting. To think about the dedication, endurance and determination of dogs and mushers is profound.

I see the Iditarod as one of our country’s first extreme sports. Some people enjoy, long to, even need to put themselves to this kind of ultimate test of the body, mind and will. I was more of a physical risk taker when I was younger, but nothing close to these extremes.

Still, the energy that radiates from such a race feels contagious to me, not necessarily pushing me to move to Alaska and train to be a musher, but enough to make me think about what goes into such an endeavor.

And that has led me to think about parts of life for which drive and will, practice and time, training and dedication, attitude and outlook are put into play in less outrageous, though deeply meaningful and impactful, ways. 

We each have our own goals, our own hopes and dreams. To aspire to something is what can keep us in stride and keep us moving forward, bit by bit, each rung of the ladder at a time. It can give us the meaning in our lives we long for.

Fears can creep in–fear of failure, fear of not doing it right, fear of what others might think of us–but if we build up our endurance to keep our goals at the forefront and keep training ourselves to be focused and deliberate in what we seek, then we can get there.

I have trained for and completed sprint triathlons and half marathons. I am proud of these accomplishments, for sure. But where I find I could use more training, practice and endurance is in being quiet, meditative and prayerful throughout the day. I deeply admire those who find the space and time to accomplish these spiritually nourishing practices.

Just like I trained for those races, I need to push myself, kindly and gracefully, to hone my practice of quietness and mindfulness. This will help me build up the endurance to put the right attitude and energy into what I seek.

I am grateful for all of Grandpa Peale’s writings distributed by Guideposts that give me and millions of others those moments to slow down, reflect, recalibrate and realign.

This March, as the mushers and their dogs make their way along the Iditarod Trail, I will be thinking about my own goals, be they physical, mental, or spiritual, and will work to fine-tune my practice in reaching them.

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