Years ago, I wrote often about the need to carve out time and dedicate that time to the enjoyment of this place. It was the time of our lives, after all, and if were didn’t enjoy ourselves what were we really doing here? I’d use my father as an example, but there were others like him. Those too focused on the business of every day to enjoy any of it. To this day my father is unable to enjoy anything. Just yesterday, during a Father’s Day lunch at his lakefront home he disappeared for a while with my son. To do what? To move something heavy. A dresser. Or a ladder. It didn’t matter, it just had to be done, and at that exact moment, or so his busy mind determined. I saw this sort of behavior back then and I hated it. I warned you not to do it. I tried to tell you about a better way.
But then something happened. I slowly forgot my own advice. Genetics are strong, and even as I write this my father drove past the office in his truck on his hurried way to somewhere. For something. For what? No one can be certain, including him. But whatever it was, or is, it has no choice but to be done. As much as I worked to not become that, I have indeed become just that. My work is consuming, even if relatively unimportant. In a world where everyone is obsessed with their own importance I don’t find my daily effort all that important. Busy, yes. Important? Nah.
Yet here I am, pulling this thing forward or being pulled by it, unsure which is true but in motion nonetheless. I wrote often back then about the need to force relaxation. I wrote that we like to think relaxation comes easy and is indeed the preferred state of being, but that this is actually untrue. What a myth it is to assume that we want to be still. What we want is to grind and churn and produce, that’s what we really want. We want to be in perpetual motion, because that should get us closer to our goal. The goal? Just to have more. More of this and more of that, and we’ll quietly trade our time for more of something less important. This was my thinking back then, and I swore I wouldn’t let it happen to me just as I hoped you wouldn’t let it happen to you.
In case you hadn’t noticed, this year we’ve had an exceptional string of weather. Clear days and cool nights. It’s dry, which is both rare, nice, and troubling for the farmers. But I’m sick of worrying about the farmers. I like the dryness, the corn be damned. This run of days have had me checking the calendar to see just how much of my summer I’ve already missed. After all, before last Friday I had only been on a boat once, and had only jumped in the lake once. A terrible and shameful admission for someone as theoretically devoted to this thing as I am. So last Friday, on the heels of a busy day of sweat and toil, I decided that the boat needed me. I decided that I needed to drive to the middle of the lake and jump in. To rid myself of the effort that had been dominating my June. And so I did. And it was as freeing and relaxing as I remembered it being.
I tend to do a lot of things. I work seven days a week. On the days that I am not working here, rare occasions find me working at my cabin. Working from a trout stream. Working and wading, fishing and hiking. It’s all still physical work, after all. Or I go somewhere else. Working to get there and working while I’m there. Last week, I snuck out to my cabin with my son to fish for the day, and this for the first time in a month. We drove up late one afternoon and immediately went fishing. We fished until 10:30 pm, ate a gross frozen pizza at 11 pm, and went to bed. The next morning I made an espresso and sat on the deck with my laptop. I responded to the business of the morning and for a moment sat and watched two blue jays tussling in the trees. A millisecond later I decided that I should be on the tractor, grading the driveway that had been rutted by the heavy spring rains. After that was accomplished, I hauled firewood to the patio-side stack, and I refilled the bird feeders. I did these things while a normal person might have sat for a while on that peaceful deck and listened to the birds. I am incapable of taking time to listen to the birds. But I have a boat, and the water temperature on this lake is a perfect 76 degrees, and from now on I’m going to force myself to take advantage of those conditions. It might not be in my nature, but it’s one of the few things in this life that truly brings me peace.