Looking at the clock, I had to make some decisions quickly. Two hours of free time opened up for me this weekend, how was I going to spend it? My schedule has been frenetic for work and at home for the past three weeks. Typically, I will have a 4-to-8-hour window at a point during a week where I can spend time fishing. I recognize I have choices in how I use my time and how I commit myself, but I have missed fishing these past few weeks. Yesterday I chose to spend that two-hour window fishing and the clock was ticking. How would I be able to maximize my enjoyment on the river?
Recently, in my conversations with friends, family, and coworkers I commonly hear people expressing their stresses around the hectic nature of their lives, especially those with school aged and younger children. The scheduled activities are complicated, constant, and allow little time for rest or recharge. The first few minutes of many meetings consist of each attendee decompressing by explaining how busy they are. It can feel like a badge of honor to be the busiest person in the meeting or an indication of status or importance. I’m not a fan of those conversations. I don’t want to be a victim of my own time management and being busy with dissatisfying actions feels like an absolution of agency. Certainly, there are times when I am overwhelmed and feel the need to vent, but I always feel better when I use my mental energy on building positivity or at least utility. When I have a moment to recharge, I try to take it.
I knew I had the potential for the open time for the past week, but I wasn’t sure how long the window may be open. The uncertainty limited how much preparation I wanted to complete. Before I left the house to take my son to his event, I loaded the car with my fishing gear, and rigged up my rod so I could be on the water faster. I had what I needed.
My first decision was location. Where could I go that minimized time in the car and generated a good opportunity to catch fish? It was also midday on a Saturday. Saturdays are the most crowded days for fishing, so I wanted to avoid popular spots with easy parking. I also needed flexibility in case my son’s interview ended early. All these criteria ran through my head, and I settled on a stream close to my son, that has some trout and isn’t heavily fished.
My second decision was on fishing technique and approach. I decided to go with a two-nymph rig on a heavier mono leader so I could switch quickly to a streamer. The mono rig set up gives me the flexibility to fish a smaller reach upstream with the nymphs and then fish my way back to the car with the streamer.
Once my intentions were set, the only thing left was to implement my plan and enjoy my time. Walking through the stream, feeling the gravel under my feet and the cold water against my waders was calming and relaxing. The chilly air filled my lungs and settled my mind. Feeling the rod direct the line through the air to the water allowed me to feel a graceful control (well not on every cast). I didn’t catch a fish or feel a bite, but I got out on the river. My son’s interview ended 45 minutes early and I was able to pick him up within 15 minutes. I was relaxed and responsible at the same time.
Too often I will hear people say they don’t have enough time. I think we choose not to have enough time. Busy keeps the mind occupied but the body is stressed and disconnected. That can become so common it’s comforting. The cycle needs to be broken.
I’ve been writing every day for 56 straight days and at times it feels stressful. But I see what I’ve produced, 34 chapters of a novel, and I’m happy. I’m learning every day and feel supported by a wonderful community. I’ve also been putting in a lot of time for work to develop our 2022 plan, and I’ve been running my kids to all their events during the hectic holiday season. There is a lot to do. If we prepare, keep our agency, connect our bodies and minds, and maintain a positive outlook we can enjoy our time more fully. Our badge of honor can be the joy in our life and not a scoreboard of how many meetings we attended and hours we’ve worked. We can all make that choice and find time.