Around the Bend

This fall I spent a couple of days camping and fishing in the mountains at one of my favorite spots in Arizona.

One morning, I got up early to fish the stream near my campsite with the plan of returning for lunch and a lengthy lounge in my hammock. Nearly seven hours later, I stumbled back to camp having covered miles of stream, caught a few fish, and taken a lot of photos.

Nothing went wrong. It’s just how the day unfolded. I had every intention of making this a short outing, but the stream kept going and I had to see what was just around the bend.

It could have been a supreme fishing hole.

A spectacular view.

A flower covered meadow.

Or, perhaps a bear (which would have been awesome).

However, in most cases, what was just ahead was another bend in the stream, so I had to keep going. It cost me a few blisters and an afternoon nap.

It was a wonderful day. Perhaps one of the most excellent days of the year.

I’m wired that way, and have been for as long as I can remember. Exploring the creek around my uncle’s house. Driving the endless dirt roads in my home state of Kansas, just to find places I’ve never been. Begging my friend, when visiting Haiti, to take me to Cité Soleil 1 — just to see and perhaps visit a school. He wouldn’t do it because he is my friend and he cares about my safety. “Next time,” he says. I’m holding him to that.

I love my sense of adventure. I go looking for rattlesnakes 2 (I’ve seen a single baby Speckled Rattler in Arizona. That’s it. Sad!). I allow tarantulas to crawl on my hand 3. My dream trip is to ride the Trans-Siberian Express (third class) from Moscow to Vladivostok 4. I’m not intentionally unsafe, but I’m always interested in what lies ahead.

You might think some of this is dangerous (or stupid), and you’d probably be right. But, the biggest danger I see in looking at what is around the next bend is that I might miss out on the moment. In looking ahead, I may miss the now. A quiet place to sit by the stream and enjoy the sights and sounds of the mountains. The little times during the day where happiness awaits those who focus on the present.

I believe there is room for both if we slow down and practice being mindful. Don’t miss the trees for the forest, so to speak. Enjoy each step of the journey.

1 Cité Soleil is a large slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Very poor. Not particularly safe.

2 Yes. I frequently go out to the desert with a headlamp and my snake stick (a broom handle) and look for rattlesnakes.

3 In fairness, I was trying to get the tarantula off of a road.

4 This is about a seven day trip, if you never get off the train. I want to ride third class for the true experience. Let me know if you would like to do this. For some reason, my wife and daughter are not interested.

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