Recently I woke up after a sleepless night. I was in a funk, and prepared to suffer through what felt like an inevitable really bad day. I felt listless, sad and a bit lost. I wasn't sure where to turn or how to feel better.
Suddenly, my eyes lit up and I sat up in bed. Eureka! I knew what would turn things around!
I popped in my season 3 DVD of the early 90's TV show Northern Exposure. After only one episode I was laughing through tears and had a fresh, new clarity on things. I put on the coffee and began calling friends and family, making plans and setting aside petty grievances.
I was cured.
Dr. Joel Fleishman gets primal on Northern Exposure
The premise of the show is simple enough. Lifetime New Yorker and newly minted M.D. Joel Fleishman is sent -- against his will -- to a tiny town in the wilds of Alaska to work in a rural clinic in order to pay back his medical school loans. Suddenly stripped of every modern convenience and diversion that the Big Apple has to offer, bare bones Cicely may as well be jail to our Joel.
Life is slow in Cicely. VEEERY slow. Joel goes through the five stages of death as he fights, kicks, screams and finally howls at the moon in desperation at the prospect of wasting years of his hard fought youth in this tiny, backwater way station miles and miles from anywhere. He can't understand why anyone would choose to live in this dreary place.
Finally, after several episodes, he begrudgingly (as we all must when we are stuck in a situation not of our choosing) gives up, accepts his fate and settles in. The occupants of the town are mostly Native Americans and a few refugees of the lower 48 who have found a different way of life, far from modern America. Many are running from something...looking for freedom and a fresh start.
At first glance, Cicely IS a dreary place. Depressing. Distressed old buildings line the main drag. Nothing's been updated for years and years. Peeling paint and old wallpaper line the mismatched walls of the doctor's office. Nothing appears fresh and new anywhere.
But then, one by one, you get to know the people.
There's Ed, the local native American teenager who was abandoned by his parents and raised by the local tribe.
There's Chris Stephens, morning DJ and radio storyteller/philosopher on KBHR, the local radio station owned by Maurice.