Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I made a lot of mistakes

"I was in love with the place,
in my mind, in my mind.
I made a lot of mistakes,
in my mind, in my mind ..."
- Sufjan Stevens, "Chicago"

I was going through some old picture folders when I found the original file of a photo I have had over in this blog's sidebar for a while now. It was taken just a few minutes before the start of the 2008 Iditarod Trail Invitational by Damion Kintz (or at least, that's who the little copyright symbol in the corner attributes it to.) For me, this picture is filled with the nervous energy and hope that surrounded the moment. But more than that, I see the one of those pivotal moments that life is full of - a moment of innocence lost.

The week following is still burned with startling clarity in my memory, and I think about it often. I think about the world of extremes, the beauty and the bleakness, the strength and the weakness, the highs and the lows. And I think about the what ifs. What if I had trained differently? What if I had different gear? What if I had gotten more sleep early on? What if I had eaten enough? What if I hadn't dropped my bike in Pass Creek? Would I have avoided the minor freakout and subsequent breakdowns that plagued me as I rode a wave of grace through the rest of that beautiful but brutal race?

What if? And if so, what then?

And then I got to thinking ... "Hmmm, it was about this time last year that I entered the 2008 race." Turns out, it was exactly one year ago. Time runs short.

The Iditarod Trail has been in the forefront of my thoughts recently as winter approaches, changes loom and memories linger. I have wrestled with the possibility of entering the race again in 2009, but was never able to make a strong commitment. Last year, I nearly killed my poor family with worry. I spent a lot of money and burned up a lot of time in training. I made a lot of mistakes.

And I wonder why I would subject myself to something so challenging and painful ever again. Even though I learned so much, and have so much more insight into the larger picture, and so much more insight into myself.

But then I come across these pictures, these moments of innocence lost and knowledge found, in a place so bright and brilliant that it's impossible to illustrate and impossible to describe. But I can still see it. And even with the months between, I still feel so close I can almost taste it, touch it ...

Yeah, that looks like my hat, thrown in the ring.

On to 2009.