A friend of mine sent me a meditation guide audio clip a week and a half ago, as we were starting to understand the enormity of COVID-19. The clip was from Waking Up with Sam Harris. The meditation is a guided focus on gratitude. One of the images described in the meditation was how when faced with the daily struggles of our lives, like being stuck in traffic, how it’s important to consider that millions of other people are sick with a fatal illness, or they are living without food, or they are in war zones, or they suffer abuse.
All of those other people would quickly change places with me. That was a powerful image to me, as I’ve been the frantic, stressed out, angry driver who was upset, feeling the world is thwarting me. But thinking of how fortunate I am puts me in a more positive mindset. The driving imagery he created definitely helped me connect to my gratitude. We should all feel lucky and blessed for all the things we have and that we get more time on earth.
The driving imagery also connected me to the time I spend driving. There are days when I spend 4-5 hours in the car, between driving my kids to school and driving to work and back and forth, plus any other meetings I may have to travel to any particular day. I have become accustomed to spending a lot of time driving, mainly alone. I sometimes fill this time with work related conference calls, but often I listen to podcasts. I listen to TED Radio Hour, Akimbo by Seth Godin, How I Built This with Guy Raz, Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell, many entrepreneurial focused podcasts and most of the fly fishing podcasts available on the Apple Podcast App. I really look forward to this time and to listening to the podcasts.
It’s a time when my mind is transitioning from the lists of work and life and I, alone, have control over the flow of information. Most of the things I talk about and think about come from these podcasts. I’ve started many sentences with “I was listening to this podcast and …” So part of my sense of normalcy that I’ve lost from our social distancing and work from home requirements is that I’m not driving. This can be seen as beneficial added time not commuting, less stress of managing traffic, but it also is a loss of my podcast time. And a loss of my space to get lost in creative thoughts from the talented and informative podcasters.
This weekend, I practiced some social distancing and spent time in nature while I went fishing. I also needed to get out of my house and neighborhood to get some fresh perspective, after having dog walks as my only form of outside time. I thought back to the meditation imagery and I thought about what I was appreciating during the drive as I traveled to the stream. I appreciated the time outside but I also wanted to be careful not to go somewhere I thought a lot of hikers or dog walkers, etc. would go and I only had a few hours. But as I approached the stream and the parking spot, my excitement built.
I connected to the moment where you first arrive at the stream, hoping for an empty lot so you have the place to yourself, hoping to see rising fish or to feel the tug of the first fish you catch. There are so many potential ways the day can go and it’s exciting for the opportunity to fish. I wanted to bottle that moment up, with a similar feel to Christmas morning as a child. Everything we experience is a moment of time and it is cool to me that anticipation and attention can heighten the value of a moment, cementing a memory. I appreciated the drive down the narrow, winding road and the entire experience of getting to the river.
I had a fun few hours fishing and caught a nice rainbow. I met another fisherman who was at the stream and had a nice exchange with him (at a distance) on the flies and techniques we were using. I missed a couple hook sets, which may normally wind me up a little, but holding on to that feeling of driving up to the site carried with me the whole time fishing.
In this time where we are self-quarantining and being very careful of who we come in contact with to limit spread of the virus, it was nice to appreciate the drive itself without the fear I’ve been carrying around. I heard today on the radio that we can potentially have two major health struggles as a result of the virus, the first is the virus itself impacting our bodies and medical system and the second is the damage to our mental health as we are isolated and disconnecting. It resonated with me that now is a good time to write out how you’re feeling (start a blog), to start a new creative project, to set a different goal or to reach out to folks we may not have talked to in some time. We need purpose, connection and care more than ever.
Part of my self-care was to insert podcasts into different parts of my day since I am not driving as much. Two podcasts I listened to in the past day or so include the Tenkara Cast with Daniel Galhardo and 2 Guys and a River. They each discussed the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and how fly fishing can bring some sense of hope and joy in their lives during hard times. Daniel was particularly open and descriptive over his struggle with depression over the last year and how he felt compelled to share his podcast again after receiving treatment and counseling and feeling compelled by the impact of the virus to reach out to share with his community. His message was inspiring. I’ll definitely appreciate my drives more now.
In the 2 Guys podcast, Steve and Dave told great stories and shared how the hope of fly fishing held during hard times can help you navigate hard conversations, hard spots in life, and be a bright spot. Challenges such as illness, financial struggles, grief and loss, and relationship disconnections can’t be solved with fly fishing, but I think the sense of appreciation and the moments of joy created in our lives can help us, combined with our faith in God or some greater good, find hope. I hope you all are well, finding ways to be with the uncertainty of our current situation while taking care of yourselves and your families. Let’s all try to appreciate the aspects of our “normal lives” that we may be missing.