The sim­ple life

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - Rus­sell Wanger­sky

On slow­ing down and tak­ing stock

I lost a beau­ti­ful, brand-new tiny white mud­dler min­now trout fly in a tree last week­end.

That was the only cloud in an im­pec­ca­ble sum­mer sky.

I men­tion it in part be­cause of the sheer mag­nif­i­cence of that lit­tle un­used fly: its white hair wings, its body as-yet unchewed by even a sin­gle trout. It was a trout fly at that best and worst of times. Best, be­cause it is so spec­tac­u­larly art­ful, even­tu­ally, at cre­at­ing the im­age of a white moth in wa­ter. Worst, be­cause you know it’s not go­ing to catch fish right away; it won’t float or swim quite right un­til it’s got­ten wet and less per­fect, so you’ll waste casts get­ting it to set­tle right.

I also men­tion it in part be­cause of this un­fath­omable pair of para­graphs (a pair-a-graph, per­haps?) about how you find ful­fil­ment if you’re an ex­trarich techno en­tre­pre­neur.

“Tech elites who are look­ing for more than ex­tra ze­ros in their bank state­ments are find­ing it in an un­likely place: so-called songver­sa­tions, emo­tion-heavy gath­er­ings that com­bine philo­soph­i­cal rap ses­sions with im­pro­vised mu­sic, run by a ukulele-strum­ming songstress who de­scribes her­self as a ‘heartist,’” the New York Times re­ports. “Branded as ‘Soul Sa­lons,’ they im­port the cos­mic-ex­plorer sen­si­bil­ity of Burn­ing Man’s dusty playa into the cozy liv­ing rooms of prom­i­nent en­trepreneurs, where they sing freestyle on topics as di­verse as en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion and heart­break. Think of it as a free-jazz equiv­a­lent of an Esalen re­treat.”

As Bart Simp­son would say, “Ay, caramba.”

I am not one to deny you your own per­sonal ful­fil­ment, even if it in­volves freeform ukulele (an in­stru­ment and mu­si­cal style that philoso­pher Jean-Paul Sartre de­scribed in “Be­ing and Noth­ing­ness” as “an au­ral crush of shriek­ing squir­rels”). (No, he didn’t. Sorry, I got car­ried away there).

If you want to pay money to per­form mu­si­cal glos­so­lalic en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism in your liv­ing room as a means of find­ing your cen­tre, that’s all well and good.

In fact, I’d say any­thing that lets you sep­a­rate your­self from the long march of the ev­ery­day is a good thing.

For me, it’s a walk down a grassed-over woods trail, shoul­dered with a de­clen­sion of alders, close enough to fall­ing wa­ter to al­ways hear the nearby rush of it over the rocks. I like cal­cu­lat­ing how to fish un­der tightly knit trees and on the edge of steep ground. I like the feel of cold wa­ter against my hip waders, while feel­ing the heat of the sun on my back at the same time. I like be­ing forced to move slowly, to think slowly, to give up elec­tron­ics and fo­cus in­stead on an­gles and the pure line.

And to wan­der away into the world of just how to roll the fly line over to reach an eddy? That prac­ti­cal cal­cu­la­tion, that con­cen­tra­tion on a phys­i­cal goal, can drive ev­ery­thing else away.

Oth­ers have said this be­fore: the con­ve­nience of our wired world is also a leash we rarely get to shed. How we ac­tu­ally shed it is an in­di­vid­ual is­sue, but the one thing you have to know is that you must. We are not de­signed, phys­i­cally or men­tally, to be on call at all hours. Our sleep pat­terns, our en­docrine sys­tems and our brains sim­ply aren’t built to han­dle that strain.

We have to find a space. Find yours and go there. If the string you need is on a ukulele in the hands of a hired heartist, so be it.

Mine is on a rod and reel. Af­ter the mud­dler’s abrupt de­par­ture?

I used a hair-wing Royal Coach­man in­stead, and found proof that large trout still in­habit wa­ter just 20 min­utes from my house, and at the same time, en­tire worlds away.

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