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Essay: Finding Purpose

Essays by Karen Anderson.png
Illustration by Kacie Brown

When my husband suggests canoeing on a cold, cloudy morning, I agree at once. Not because the weather is great which it isn’t. But because it gives me a sense of purpose, something I seem to have lost lately.

Now, I know exactly what I need to do and my mood brightens. While Dick is loading the canoe onto the truck, I am packing a picnic lunch. Bread, cheese, apples, cookies—and a thermos of coffee. Next, I gather up extra layers of clothes and put them in the waterproof bag.

Soon we’re heading out to the Manistee River, spotting my car at the take-out place and continuing in the truck to the put-in. There’s rain in the forecast but I ignore the warning. Having a sense of purpose enables you to ignore warnings.

It’s almost fall and the water is low, but we’re glad to be paddling. Fast or slow, the river is always moving. It never loses its sense of purpose and I envy that. No matter how long it takes, how many twists and turns, the river will find the sea.

Sitting in the bow of the canoe, I feel the current beneath me, the river’s energy, its deep knowing. And for a little while, I know too.

Karen Anderson is a writer who lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan. She was a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 30 years and published two collections.