Monday, August 07, 2006

Rushing Waters

It was the third day of fishing and I had been completely skunked. My frustration was palatable as I entered the cold river waters of the Conejos River last Monday morning. My pursuit of fish had found me entering these very waters at four different points over the past few days and despite a gallant effort and a few near misses, nary a fish had been caught.

As I put my floatant on the Caddis Fly that the bait shop had three days earlier promised would bring fish, something happened to my frustration. It was replaced by an overwhelming sense of appreciation. Perhaps it was the rushing water as it surged past my neoprene encased legs, or the way the sun illuminated the early morning mountain ridge that forced the funk in both attitude and perception to melt away. Perhaps it was divine intervention reminding me that I was experiencing something far bigger than fishing.

Whatever it was, I stopped dead. I allowed my arms to fall to my side and I closed my eyes. I drank in the sounds, the smells and the cool crisp air. I found incredible focus that ironically had been eluding me throughout the past few days. I was quite and yet my mind and body were exploding with excitement and gratitude. The thought crossed my mind that just one week earlier I had been stuck in a meeting with someone that would never develop into a long-term serious client. My thoughts forwarded a week in advance and I could imagine myself sitting at my desk and stressing over the half dozen projects that I have started and would need to complete.

In any other circumstance, I think my heart would begin to pound. My mind would race. The day would be off....My present would be affected by my past and my stress would rise on the something in the future that hadn't even come to past.

I looked at the water. I noticed a Caddis Fly, a real one, land on the water about two dozen river paces ahead. It landed and most certainly had to know it had landed in what would ultimately be its fate. A sure drowning or a tasty meal for a hungry fish! The fly opened its wings and almost seemed to flutter in celebration. For a minute, I thought I saw me and smiled as it road the bubbling water from right in front of me to well past me and down the stream.


I continued to watch the water. The beauty of it was mesmerizing. The rhytm. The power. It captivated me.

For me it represented my future and my past. The moment allowed me to visualize my life and the hectic pace I have been leading as of late. That caddis fly was sort of like my worries and stress. I focus so much on what hasn't happened yet that before I know it the worries and stress have long since ridden the waters past me and remain firmly behind me never to be seen or experienced again....unless I choose it.

Like that fly happily running past me, I couldn't catch or stop it once it was past me. And in all honesty, even when he was squarely before me, I likely couldn't catch him before he got to me because there the speed of the water and the unpredictability of my footing was such that it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to stop or even change it course.

I closed my eyes again and allowed the senses to take over again. The only thing that mattered was the here and now. My abilities only allowed me to focus on my immediate environment (the here and now) and whatever might come down the stream ahead of me, was and would be what it was (future). Whatever was behind me was past. It was certainly something I couldn't continue to focus on otherwise I was sure to not catch a fish.

Just then I raised the fly fishing pole above my head and poetically swung it back and forth until I my fly landed with perfect ease in the waters ahead of me. First cast, nothing. Second cast nothing. Third cast nothing. Fourth cast, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth cast nothing.

Ninth cast....near miss.

Tenth cast, I was hanging on for the ride of my life. A ride that most certainly would not have happened had I not focused on being present. Whatever intervened that morning....thank you. I needed the reminder.

In appreciation for everything in my life.....

Ripple On!

Steve Harper


MagnumVox said...

We ask...
...and the Universe responds.

How wonderful that you were listening!!

Be well my friend.

Chris L said...

Great metaphor, and lesson. Well said.

For me, the tricky part is remembering this amidst the crises of the day, and in our security-seeking culture. BREATHE.

Able improvisation can be more useful than careful planning--though a balanced combo is killer! As Qui-Gon Jinn said to Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace, "Be mindful of the future, but not at the expense of the present."

Donna Karlin said...

Now the beauty of this is when you can take it with you. Mental snapshots of these moments in time are invaluable when you need to slow down to the speed of life and relax in the midst of the chaotic world we live and work in.

So if you can capture these moments and bring them back to you in visualizations, then you will forever be able to stay centered, calm and like that steadfast rock that might sit in the centre of a fast moving stream....steady and strong.