“We, all of us, are what happens when a primordial mixture of hydrogen and helium evolves for so long that it begins to ask where it came from.” Dr. Jill Tarter quoted this pearl of intergalactic wisdom and it is something that pops into my head every time I read the news or get lost in the minutiae of my career. Last week I traded texts with my buddy about our lovely President and his state of the union address. It made me want to go camping, and stare up at the stars imagining much more intelligent life forms.
For the last couple years it has been near impossible to push this sad display of our species to the background. I had to quit reading my news feed so habitually when it became obvious I wasn’t sleeping well. The anger welled inside of me now and again, and thankfully, I realized I was wasting my time and life. Now when I feel the frustration and patriotic embarrassment rising about our state of affairs, I’m reminded to put the phone down and set up the vise for some ugly bass flies.
It’s snowing again. That’s what happens when I put the show shovel in the garage thinking it’s probably the last storm. Winter in Denver can be long and is an overly busy time. We all put our heads down and grind out the cold months shoveling snow while dreaming of Mexican beaches. Sketches and notes and various other articles of useless shit pile up on my desk as I try like hell to avoid them. It is a great time to have an office job though. The folks actually building the projects I design are tougher yet less compensated than I, leaving me feeling like a spoiled brat. A warm spoiled brat.
The background on my laptop is the photo of our simple tent in a Colorado fall landscape far from WiFi, news, and this laptop screen. It’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last image I gaze at before shutting down. It inches me closer to shutting this laptop down permanently, but when I get that feeling I reel myself in by looking at my 401k, and I snap back to reality.
I do get out in the elements during this dreary time of low light and short days, mostly to fish, but it requires an amount of suffering most prefer to avoid. The crowds are fewer but the fish are sluggish and the eyelets are frozen. But during these grey months, one fish is worth a day of freezing to death.
School mornings suck as well, with ample doses of yelling, threatening, and holding back the “F” word. My wife and I should win an award for this by the way. It’s the main ingredient in our language recipe so swallowing it down fucking hurts. At camp it is rarely used due to the low stress of it all. But smash your finger with an ax handle and the word is to be used in excess, no judgement.
I believe these typical stresses are probably the reason we camp. Parenting is drenched in the doubt that we are doing the right thing which adds stress, day in, day out. Our careers as architects come with a fare amount of stress as well, with a little creativity sprinkled in. It’s not what we thought it would be when we started college, but it pays the bills and then some. And when working in the mountains I almost always find a way to fish between meetings or on the way back down to Denver.
In a complicated world full of deadlines and responsibilities and Fox News one must take every opportunity to fish, even if it means getting home a little late smelling like trout slime. It’s reality with a little creativity sprinkled in.
To that end, I’m currently trailing a project in Big Sky, Montana hoping it comes to fruition. I can picture it now. I get off the plane, start stringing up a rod as I walk down the tarmac, throw my work crap into a rental car and find the nearest river. I fish until five minutes before the meeting, attend said meeting with client, and respectfully decline lunch as I have a conference call to attend to (fishing). Catch trout all afternoon and into the evening. Get up way before dawn. Fish some more and catch my plane just in time, wearing waders.
When we graduated college we drove west looking for work. We stopped in Big Sky to interview at a firm that paid very little. What got me was the hotel video library in town. There must have been twelve copies of A River Runs Through It on VHS. I just couldn’t take that job with the pay we’d need to eat and have shelter, and buy birth control. Maybe I’ll find a different avenue to those rivers yet.
Simply put, one must pump the breaks until simplicity in life is achieved, if not for a mental break, but to remember who oneself actually is. Once that is forgotten, the pace of life can consume you like a carp scarfing down a Charlie Craven fly. Then it breaks you off for good like Joe Exotic. Therefore I will continue to fish between meetings and I’ll skip as many days of work as possible to take the family camping. It will all be here when I get back. We earthlings should never stop to appreciate that the world will keep turning.