2020 has been emotionally exhausting.
To this point in my adult life I have found that a few minutes a day of solitude, aka meditation, helps re-center myself and approach each day feeling I can emotionally manage life’s twisting-turning road. Yet, there has never been a 2020. A year that has included a number of emotional challenging experiences including the passing of a long-time family friend and sharing the “covid-distanced” grief with their loved ones, burying my own mother as her health quickly weakened soon after she celebrated 92 years of age and watching a best friend lose his battle with Glioblastoma. All while launching a new communication platform, adjusting to lower work revenue expectations including fear of business failure soon to be overrun with responsibilities as tasks necessary to succeed explode in all directions. Nothing is what it was nor will it ever be again. Nothing is certain, every detail every objective every day seems to change often leaving me feeling a bit lost and disconnected. Funny thing is, that’s what I had to do to right myself.
Life coming into 2020 I seem to relish managing chaos. I found it exciting to see, hear and feel the pressure to create and produce material under a deadline directed lifestyle…..somewhere in the pandemic insurgence of life became like the time I had 3 dogs. I could always manage 2 dogs…one was here and the other was there, easy swing of my eyes and I could see them. Enter – third dog. Now there is always one behind you – or somewhere you couldn’t see because you’re watching the other two. Constant fear of what was happening with the 3rd dog and was I going to regret only watching the two in front of me at the moment…..
Pandemic life for me has become like life with 3 dogs. There is a lot going on, not always in front of your or for the better and you best not ignore the silence too long or you will come to regret it.
Traveling to the launch—anxiousness was still flowing rapidly thru me as I check my phone for messages, sent reminder notes and hardly paused to look up from my digital connection. One time amongst a message I glance to see a heard of Buffalo grazing with two bulls determining dominance right before us. It’s a gift to see wild acts such as this, I grab a quick pic and back to emails…
The plan today is to float a section of Snake river with friends, Kell and Matt along with Matt’s mom who is along to enjoy the scenery….
As the boat splashed, I finally looked up and realized what I had been ignoring all morning – an epic fall day with bright blue skies, colorful fall foliage and a river void of human disturbance.
As we began the journey maybe a mile into the float, my phone rings, as I pick up, loose connection. I set the phone down and think…… airplane mode is my option for today. I flip the switch and take a cast…
For the next few hours we float, cast catch and comment on the astonishing natural beauty that surrounds us.
In full transparency, I am in great hands today. My friend Kell, who owns the boat, is hard core fly angler who managed a fly shop in Jackson, WY and Matt was a fly-fishing guide. I mention this because despite my 30-year career in the freshwater fishing industry, drift boating and fly fishing is relatively new to me, meaning I’ve done this less than a few dozen times in my life….but it is also my newest obsession…
Matt and Kell swap rowing duties for large stretches of the day while offering up tips on how I can improve my casting. I am having a blast casting, soaking in scenery and melding into the snake river eco system – yet I’m feeling as if I’m not pulling my weight and rowing. After some prying the savvy drift boaters opt to turn the oars over to me.
When we come around a corner that exposes a view of somewhat intense rapids, in comparison to others we navigated today, Matt and Kell glance at each other and look at me and say; “hey, one of us can take it thru here” I respond with confidence that if they tell me where to go, I can get us there. OK…I’ve got the oars, here we go. Just above the drop, along the cut in the bank Matt connects with a fish, it’s big. I’m all questions, to keep moving or drop anchor, keep planned route or alternate- decision fight the fish thru the rapids and land her on the other side… Matt stays connected with the fish and gains confidence it’s a beast… Kell offers me direction and we successfully avoid boat trouble amongst the busy water, I row to the calm side of the river where Matt jumps out and lands the fish.
A huge sense of pride comes over me when Matt catch’s that fish. I feel a part of it, as I was rowing at time of hook-up and I certainly wasn’t expecting that feeling. I’m so excited for Matt as I watch him revel in the moment.
We paused a few minutes here, take in the view of the Grand Teton as the sun begins to set with not even a random thread of a thought about what’s on the other side of “Airplane Mode”.
We push off for the final section of the float realizing the day has gotten along with flow slow and length of float I’m thinking….Hey, I’m quite the river guide. As we meander these final miles I relish in the serenity realizing my goal was accomplished. I’m relaxed, amongst friends, surrounded by nature and feel connected with all of it. This is my happy place feeling connected to the earth and in touch with my soul.
It was about then when Matt alerts me to ROCK!! I row hard a few times but our trajectory is set… ‘BAM” we smack right into a rock moving downstream almost sideways, boat tips up on edge- swings and falls back to right it-self. My thought process in order 1) OH MY, that is how people die 2) Holy shit are we lucky 3) I have a lot to learn about rowing a drift boat.
My heart races despite it all being OK, everyone and everything is still in the boat including memories of a fantastic day.
As I reflect upon that experience the last mile is a lot like how my life’s been lately…. Navigating some turbid water on occasion, finding some success and enjoying a rare moment yet, only to have life’s river flow smack me upside the head and toss me around a little. I think I’m better for it, certainly have taken the lesson that I must keep my head up and prepare for disaster even if I don’t see it.
Finally, I know I’m more centered and relaxed today because of that day on the river and believe I’m more prepared for life’s turbulent water or at least I can keep life’s challenges in perspective.
As the day ended we were fortunate to take in one of the most beautiful mountain sunsets I’ve ever seen. Grateful for life’s journey and friendship in so many ways.
Reluctantly I take the phone off Airplane Mode.