Stan's Tuesday Walks

A Weekly Feature
by Stan Evans,
President, Santa Fe Always Online

September 25, 2001

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, I’ll 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, wouldn’t you know it, just as these efforts were starting to work, some guy came roaring up behind me and—obviously impatient with my speed—shot 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 Northeast—where Linda and I once rented a car and drove from Boston to Montreal just to look at the spectacular fall foliage—but 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 road—they 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. I’m 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 unspoiled—because 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.

Stan

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