My routine on the George goes like this, get up at 6, have breakfast, fish all day, have dinner, in bed by 8 and repeat for the week. There really is only two things to do fish and think. I do a lot of thinking while fishing on the George. Deep thinking is a challenge at home with so many distractions but up there I get clarity of mind.
There is something about that beautiful, wild, harsh environment that makes you feel closer to the universe and God, especially when your guide takes you down river through the rapids. Things that you thought were important back in the city suddenly don’t feel so important after the first cold spray of river water hits you square in the face. You feel uneasy maybe a little thrilled, you think this might be the time for a good prayer. The truth is that as we age we tend to think safety first. We may not have really pushed ourselves for a long time, we stay in our comfort zones. My trip to the George challenges me, it is the real deal.
Navigating the George isn’t a ride at Disney, controlled and predictable. Here the river captures you in the strength of the current and surrounded by giant boulders, the guide expertly navigates us down the river. You feel like you are on edge of capsizing and at the mercy of the river, but your guide is experienced and gets you through. The ride down river is a wake up and cleanses your soul.
The experience empties our minds, gone are the useless worries that I spend countless hours mulling over and worrying about. My mind slows, it is freed, and my deep thinking starts. Random thoughts fill my mind, I think about Bill, one of the members of our group I mentioned in my last blog. He is still capable of making the trip at the age of 84, this is impressive knowing how this trip can be physically taxing. Bill is able to make the trip because he manages his health carefully, strength training three times a week, and Pilates twice a week. He is also one of the most well-read people I have met, continually learning he has become quite the expert on the Arctic, plants, geology and astronomy. Did I mention that Bill still works three days a week as a dermatologist in Little Rock Arkansas?
Before I retired I believed that working past the “usual” retirement age was rare but then I discovered that 4 of the 5 members in our group were still working. Our group range from Bill to the youngest (yours truly) who is 62. For the record the one member that officially retired, did so in his mid seventies from a salaried position. The rest are self employed and working on a part time basis, there is a lesson there I am sure.
I think about how all of us have been allotted a limited time on this planet and how we spend our time especially in VL is up to each of us. Are we going to spend our time enhancing relationships with family and friends, staying healthy and doing activities that bring us joy or chasing more wealth for a rainy day that may never come?
During your working years we focus on chasing financial security and building our careers, in many cases our relationships with our family, friends and our health suffer. It was the price for success but thankfully that is behind us now and there is still time reprioritize what is important.
I also think about my bad habit of waiting for happiness at some future event, rather than creating happiness everyday. I will be happy when the new book is finished, I will be happy when I have a million dollars in the bank, I will be happy when I retire. In the end I don’t enjoy what I have. There will always be something else, why do we always need more?
Living this way is no way to go through life, I changed my motto to “happiness now”. I know what makes me happy and that is where I focus my energy now. Some of the things I need are a loving family, to be healthy so that I can do the things that I enjoy and to be challenged. I need to feel the excitement of attempting new things and if by chance I fail I just get back up on the horse and keep riding. What do I have to lose? I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t have to worry about what other think and that feels so good!
I know me and I know that I will get bored if I am not taking risks and that will kill me quicker than a failure ever would. I think that is something for you to think about. ” Better to burn out than to fade away”-Neil Young.
We all need our special place like the George where we can reconnect with our true selves and get back on track. I’ve found mine and if you haven’t already make it a priority to find yours.Enjoy the pictures especially the one of five star Joe with his big salmon. I owe him large as that first trip to the George woke me up from the retirement shock and changed the course of my life.