The Pace of Field and Stream–A Universal Constant

I’ve always been a person that looks at a job of work as something to be done as efficiently as possible so that it can be done as quickly as possible. I enjoy efficiency for its own sake, but must confess that its shortening the job that I’ve been after.

My play time was often about the hustle, as well.

Running fast, biking fast, paddling fast and even backpacking fast; laying down the miles and leaving the trail behind me. My almost constant companion was ‘economy of motion’ and I have thought about things through that lens for so long that it became a part of me.

No more. Its taken me a long time to slow down and brother, it feels great!

We deal with the hurry up mentality on so many fronts that we can’t hardly be aware of it.

What is the shortest or fastest way to drive from A to B?

If I get up at 5:30 AM, I’ll have 15 minutes for coffee, 10 minutes for a shower, 10 minutes to get dressed, a quick bite to eat–maybe, bring out the garbage and get stuff together to go to work in order to just miss the school bus traffic so I can get to work on time. Everything in our daily schedule has a finite and defined time allowed and there are so many things involved that it makes for a very hectic life, in order to squeeze it all in. We work the day through with all of its ‘get it done’ stuff and then windshield time again for the drive back home. And there better not be someone sleeping when a light changes! We go through our evening rituals and get up to start all over again.

Everything has its allotted slot. Our lives are a concatenation of events. Always moving from one to the other, just so that we can get to the one after that.

Even our recreation can be that way. We prepare for a trip with the same sense of urgency and then often try to squeeze in as much ‘good stuff’ as possible in the hours and days that we have. We are aware of when it will end, even as we start–guaranteeing that our vacation time will be tainted by that same sense of urgency.

Charlie stole the handle--"No Way to Slow Down" Ian Anderson

Everything we do and touch has a ‘closing time’ and that sense of ending is either looked forward to or not according to how we feel about the activity. Either way we are doomed to a sense of moving and transition and as a result are robbed of living in the moment and savoring it. One sound bite after another, after another. The nature of the universe is such that all things function in a linear fashion and that can’t be changed, but humans are amazing people and we have a choice about how we choose to view things and behave. We are not doomed. We can choose to step off of the allegorical speeding freight train that is limited by the tracks it runs on. We can take a mental and emotional pill and leave yesterday behind and tomorrow, too. This is the only possible way to truly enjoy a moment or series of moments. I’m not talking about looking back at a moment and reflecting upon it. “Yea, that was really nice and didn’t I enjoy that?” “Yea, I was doing what I like to do and wasn’t that cool?”  That’s all well and good and we collect memories good and bad for the reflecting, but that doesn’t mean that we were ‘in the moment’ at the time that it was with us.

Nope–it takes a conscious effort to get off the tracks and live one moment at the time.

When I was a young lad, my aunt Moira was always saying, “take a pill”.

That was her way of getting my attention and pointing out that I should slow down.

Most of us need to take my aunt Moira’s advice and “take a pill”.

Especially, when we venture out into the grouse woods, pheasant fields, chukar mountains or on a trout stream or lake.

You don’t have to bring a sense of ‘urgency’ to the fields and streams. Leave a piece of cover for tomorrow or a section of water for another time.

Take a breath. A long easy breath and contemplate your surroundings. Don’t be in a hurry for the next breath. Make it a long, deep and slow one and then let it out just the same. Ah–didn’t that feel great!

Of course it did. It did because your mind begins to take on the same unhurried pace as your breathing.

You can feel yesterday and tomorrow exit your being along with the carbon dioxide. Don’t worry it won’t pollute the atmosphere, but it will help you truly enjoy the moments to come.

Some of us live much more hectic lives than others. Mostly people who live in and around big cities. These monstrosities conspire against humanity. If you live in one, I feel sorry for you. It probably takes you eight of your ten day vacation just to begin to wind down and feel human. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make a conscious effort to get your mind right. Breathe. Breathing is key.

As with any good thing, it takes some practice–but after a while, it will become easy and if you are real lucky, you can bring your new found attitude back to wherever isn’t a field or stream. Maybe you’ll start something. Maybe it will be catching and you’ll begin a movement or something. Maybe not, but you will have succeeded in leaving the crap behind.

Now, you have the frame of mind to actually slow down enough to untie a wind knot. Yes–everyone gets a wind knot once in a while. I get them standing still. Anyway, its OK because that rising trout will still be there when you are done and if not– no sweat–his cousin is right over there.

We can beat this thing. We are not doomed. The universe has no place in field or stream.



~ by John McGranaghan on June 22, 2010.

4 Responses to “The Pace of Field and Stream–A Universal Constant”

  1. So true. When I was doing the 9-5 gig behind a desk every fishing trip was like one of those commercial food stuffing contests (how many Natan’s hot dogs can you cram down your throat in 5 minutes?) Up before dawn, fish until after dark. Then back to the grind. Fortunately, I have always been able to take a peak at the osprey, butterfly or moose and miss a strike here and there along the way. Now that I guide as my retirement job, I find myself telling my clients to look upstream at the sunlight stream down on that riffle; and wow, look at that foliage across the river. At the end of the day they thank me for getting them to enjoy the entire experience and not just concentrate on casting, mending, etc. That is just as satisfying, or even more so for me than helping catch their first fish on a fly or some other fly fishing-related activity that consumes their being for a few hours.

  2. Yup–you are doing them a good service.
    Sunlight on a riffle and a tree just so, look much better when you ‘see’ them.
    Not all folks ‘see’ what they look at.
    I reckon it varies as much as swirls in a river, but it helps to be reminded once in a while–so we remember to breathe.

    Lord knows–I sure need it.

  3. John
    I really like the idea behind this story, slow down and live a little. We all do things in a fasion that is way to fast to be enjoyable. That is why I try and fish small rivers as much as I can and to really take a look around and see the beauty that is all around us.

    Great site.

  4. Yup–I think most of us realize, at some level, that this is true. Especially in this day.
    Some of us, have a hard time slowing it down a bit.
    I have always had an internal clock that is wound pretty tight.
    So–the reminders are needed.

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