As I set out this
morning in the 6 a.m. darkness and 50-degree coolness, on my
regular Tuesday walk with my neighbor, I was thinking about
an even earlier hour last Saturday, when I left my condo in
Taos to go fishing. Fishing is my passion.
On Friday I had driven
to Taos to talk with a Native American potter named Ruby Keene,
who makes wedding vases that I feel are an outstanding value
for the price. (Her vases are currently featured in our SFAOL.com
store. Please take a look.) She and I met shortly before 5 p.m.,
and by the time we were through doing business I figured I might
as well spend the night in my Taos condo. And to be honest,
Ill confess I had an ulterior motive: I was eager to go
fishing the next morning. My wife, Linda, had made weekend plans
that did not include me, and I couldn't think of a better way
to spend my time alone.
By 4:30 on Saturday
morning I was on the road, headed north to one of my favorite
fishing spots, a stream with some small ponds, about 10 miles
from the Colorado border and an hour and 45 minutes from the
condo. It felt good to think about how enjoyable this beautiful
autumn day was going to be. I was determined to have a good
time and not bring the worries of the office or the world with
me. Today I was going to smell the roses, so to speak, instead
of letting the usual high-pressure thoughts creep into my mind.
Traveling in a car
for a long period of time, however, is very conducive to get
me thinking about business things that can ruin an otherwise
fun day. I have the habit of making mental waves for myself,
which sometimes causes me to run into a storm. So I decided
to make the waters of my mind as calm as possible. I started
by slowing down my car below the speed limit. Then I began taking
deep breaths and consciously relaxing my shoulders in order
to reduce the tension that was trying to build.
And then, wouldnt
you know it, just as these efforts were starting to work, some
guy came roaring up behind me andobviously impatient with
my speedshot past me in a no-passing zone. Feeling my
temperature rise, I immediately took mental steps to correct
the aggravation, by concentrating on my surroundings. But trying
to be different than I normally am was difficult to do. I told
myself that all people have their ways, some of which I might
find distasteful, but I cannot let them control my life. I refused
to dwell on the impatient driver, and soon I had left him behind
mentally, just as he had left me behind on the road.
I was getting the
hang of it, this project of changing character for the day.
I began to realize that it required the same type of discipline
as exercising regularly or dieting, none of which is easy, but
little by little will achieve the desired results. With my enjoyment
level inching upward, I watched the stars slowly lose their
twinkle as dawn approached the eastern horizon. Soon the mountaintops
were silhouetted against the night sky, and when the sun rose,
the neon-yellow aspens exploded into color.
Autumn is a gorgeous
time of year. New Mexico doesn't have the many different hardwood
trees of the Northeastwhere Linda and I once rented a
car and drove from Boston to Montreal just to look at the spectacular
fall foliagebut the yellow aspens, contrasted by the dark
pine and an occasional hint of orange from the oak brush, still
present quite a sight. Our huge horizons also add drama, and
a sense of peacefulness. Driving along the mountain road, no
other vehicles in sight, totally content with myself and my
surroundings, I could only hope that the rest of the world was
having as wonderful a day as I.
It was too good to
last. Topping the last rise before my destination, I discovered
to my dismay that the parking area adjoining my private
fishing spot had about 40 cars in it. No wonder there had been
no vehicles on the roadthey were all here!! These beautiful
ponds, which many a time I had fished without sight of anybody
else, were now surrounded by fishermen. I felt myself heating
up, but once again I refused to let my emotions got the better
of me. That's life, I shrugged to myself. Make
the best of it.
.I slowly set up
my equipment, keeping calm and telling myself that a wonderful
fishing experience was just ahead. At the first pond I squeezed
into a small space between two other fishermen, all the time
feeling like my skin was being pricked by a million needles.
Im sure all the other guys felt pretty much the same.
Hey, I'm not a nut, it's just that we fishermen like our space.
Just as I was about
to cast my line into the pond, a young kid threw a rock into
the water in from of me. That did it. I looked at him and said,
"Hi, young man," then wound my line onto my reel,
returned to my car, put my fishing equipment away and slowly
drove back to Taos. Yet when I arrived at the condo, my fishing
illusion was still unspoiledbecause except for the arrival
at the ponds, all of the rest of the trip had been good. Even
excellent. I had given it my best shot to stay calm, to not
let my emotions run away with my thoughts. And I had succeeded.
Try it sometime.
Have a good day.