I stepped out of the truck into a mud puddle. The rain overnight left the parking area a muddy mess but thankfully the stream was only slightly high and off color. Putting on my hip boots, I caught the movement of another angler emerging from the wood line. He was a tall man, who walked with purpose and likely a perpetual scowl. His age slowed him down, but he still moved with authority. I hoped he had a better time than his facial expression indicated.
As I turned back to set up my rig, another bit of movement caught my attention. This time, a young toddler, four or five, wandered out of the woods. He carried a plastic bag holding a good-sized rainbow trout. His path was far more meandering than his grandfather. He made sure to walk through every puddle along the trail in his knee boots. He had a light smile and I imagined he was telling himself an adventure story as he walked to the car. They seemed like quite the pair, the serious older man and his easy-going grandson. The grandson and grandfather put the trout into a cooler, and the grandfather softened and smiled as he helped the boy into the car. That morning fishing trip may be a memory the young man may cherish for his lifetime. I never met any of my grandparents; seeing grandparents with their grandkids always hits me in a soft spot. Time spent between generations shows us all a connection to our pasts and glimpses of our futures.
The past few weeks I have encountered several conversations with family, friends, and coworkers about life changing events. Some have involved the progressions of life with children going to college, graduating from college, getting married, and buying houses. Some are grim, with people facing terminal illnesses with their loved ones. A common sentiment during all those conversations is that people wish they had more time. Albert Einstein said, “Time is really the only capital that any human has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”
I wrote last week about the importance and commitment to purpose to help us learn, grow, and gain experience. The experience we gain comes from committing time to something that supports our purpose. Entrepreneur Michael Altshuler said, “The bad news is time flies, the good news is you’re the pilot.” We each can choose how to use our time and knowing that our time is finite can help us to prioritize what is important to us. Choosing to fly fish takes time away from spending time with my family and other activities. My hope is that I can share my connection to fly fishing with my family and friends. I also hope that the benefits fly fishing brings me can help improve my time with others off the river. As someone who struggles with anxiety and stress, I have found that spending time in quiet, focused solitude helps my ability to stay positive and present at other times.
Mother’s Day weekend helps us appreciate and focus on time spent with our mothers and the moms in our lives. Last year I wrote my Mother’s Day blog on things my Mom has taught me and the example she sets for our family. I was able to spend some time with my Mom today and we had a nice visit. As we walked around her yard talking about the garden and the birds with my kids, I thought back to that grandfather and his grandson fishing. The moments together without a specific event when we can all meander and experience the outdoors together are precious gifts. It is often the “in between” moments I remember, the small jokes, the unexpected smiles, the discovery of new things or sharing something not shared before. Those moments typically happen in the quiet spaces of time shared with others.
I notice that the “in between’ moments during my fishing efforts are also often the memories that stay with me and I end up writing about. These are the cherished memories of the time I spend fishing. Seeing the animal tracks in the snow, the footprints from my friends, the conversations about life with a fishing buddy, even rigging up the rods and lacing the boots all stay with me after I release the fish and head back to the car.
One significant benefit of the year sequestered from others is that I have been able to spend lots of time with my wife. I am not the most social or communicative person, and I can be moody. There are many times when I wonder how she can deal with me. We have different perspectives and philosophies on a variety of topics. But we appreciate our time together. And for me, I love the “in between” moments we share. I love the smell of her hair and the feel of her cheek against mine when she gives me a hug and kisses me goodbye. I love how she transitions from apprehension of being tickled to peacefully relaxed when I rub her feet. I love how her voice softens when she talks to me and only me. For the person that I will spend the most time with for the rest of my life, I look forward to those moments we share, and I can’t wait to find even more.
Happy Mother’s Day.
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” Steve Jobs