It's a long way from Fremont to Willits, in just about every way, and the drive gives you a lot of time to think about things, especially if you're trying not to think about something else.
One of the things I ended up thinking about was my job. I'll admit, after the end of my academic experience, and its subsequent redirecting of my career goals (translation: I got kicked out of grad school, so I don't get to be a scientist) work became more something I did for the money while I dreamed of becoming a Famous Writer. I handed out the standard line about "wanting to do something that really helps people", and I meant it, but the truth is that in terms of influencing my career choice, "helping people" had about the same weight as "can wear jeans to work".
But driving up 101 last Monday, I started feeling uncharacteristically good about what I do. I mean, I may be a minor and replaceable cog in a giant biopharmaceutical machine, but without someone doing my little cog job the machine wouldn't run. And if it runs, it can maybe generate drugs that can mean that someday, someone is not going to have to make that drive, or at least postpone it for a while. And that's something.