When I flew into the airport and saw the palm trees, they looked like home, but odd, almost artificial, pseudo-tropical — they weren’t pines.
I had spent the morning driving through Montana’s rolling hills, ogling the lovely farms, the sparklingly clear rivers, the pines wandering along the rivers, the pines strolling up into the hills.
But now I was back home. As we drove from the airport, into San Diego, I still had a smile on my face.
I love airplanes, I love travel, I love cities — their museums and restaurants –and I am smitten with hills, rives and pines. New places change how we see, allowing us the luxury of contextualizing love — and beauty. I love a new place, anchored in eating, sleeping, wandering, exploring, fishing, hiking, slouching and smooching.
It brings up the question, how does one enjoy life? How does one really mouth it, chew it, savor it, kiss it, dive down deep into the cold, clear, refreshing liquid-rush of it?
By sloshing in it!
In Montana, on the Blackfoot River, I stood stiff-legged in the front of the boat, locking my leg into the curved plastic of the hull and cast my dry fly to the right bank. The boat sloshed, I rocked back and forth, Matt yelled “Mend,” I did, and an eighteen inch Cutthroat trout boiled to the surface, took my fly right off the top of the boiling water, and dove.
I reared back on the fly rod, it bent toward the water, and the Cutthroat took off like crazy toward the far bank. Beautiful! Thrilling! Perfect!
That night when we got off the river my back hurt like crazy. It didn’t matter. I had sloshed in it, in the river, in life. I had done what it takes to receive the beauty. I had placed myself in a posture to receive.
This is how you do it, but something else is required too.
You have to prep like crazy!
For the last year before my Montana trip, I had worked like crazy at my job, and made and saved the money to go. And then I had thought and planned and talked and arranged. I had practiced with my fly rod on my front driveway, casting to imaginary fish in a concrete river. I had made an arrangement with my friend, I had paid my money, I had made the long trip, I had hired the skilled guide, had gotten in the boat, cast the rod and I had mended the line.
It takes an effort to enjoy life, and sometimes some pre-work. But when you do that, you get it — some pleasure, a Cutthroat trout, some loveliness, a bit of the gorgeous whip and womp and woof of the wonders.
That day, as we rocked down the river, we watched a bald eagle soar overhead, perused a black bear as it wandered along the bank, peered at a herd of elk on a far hill and watched Mayflies dance in a tall, white column above the river.
We were immersed in the Blackfoot and the ecosystem of the Backfoot — the sparkly white, rapids, the bumpy, rocky bottom, the cool rain that spotted our coats and brought a fresh, damp fragrance to our senses, the deep fish-filled water along the banks — the gorgeous speckled shinning rainbow trout, brown trout and Cutthroat Trout that we caught and released that day.
This is how you do it, how you enjoy it.
Life is so good, from time-to-time, and we can enjoy it, the columns of Mayflies, and then again, the churning fish-filled rivers, when we get a chance, the lovely pines, if we put ourselves out in it — the soaking rain — and do the work, and make a choice to get up and get out, and slosh in it.