The strike took me by surprise. As the fish tugged on the line beneath the brackish water I was slow at first to set the hook and draw my quarry from the lake into the warm evening air. Its green/yellow scales flashed in the low angle light of the setting sun as I gently removed the fly from its mouth. With a sharp snap of its tail the first bluegill of the season slapped the palm of my hand as I released it back into the rippling pool. After the long Wisconsin winter life had returned to Lake Wingra.
Funny how you can be startled to realize the very thing you had invested so much time and patience to achieve. Throughout the week I had spent each morning and evening before and after the work day casting my Tenkara fly rod, seemingly in vain, to coax a fish rise. The ice had long since cleared and the temperature rose steadily from one sunrise to the next. Around the dock a light swarm of insects buzzed without biting, their delicate wings a perfect match to a feathery fly in my little box of lures. The fish struck on the third cast to reset for me the rhythmic flow of energy that courses through the universe like the steady pulse of a beating heart. And in that moment I made real my dream of a life in balance with the natural world.
Even for those of us to live in cities it is through these encounters with nature that we might define and affirm our place within it. Just as fish swim and birds fly we can each of us make our way in the world through the passage of fresh air, free-flowing water and open space. As we walk through wooded paths under the shade of big green trees we can see the importance of preserving those vital elements that make life on our planet not only possible but infinitely more pleasant. And though we might struggle with the frantic pace of modern life bent more on the extraction of resources and the production of non-soluble substances that pollute the world in which we live for the sake of our economy we could look instead toward the protection and preservation our natural ecology.
When we strike that harmonious chord in concert with the world around us we are rewarded with a profound state of flow through which all things are possible. Through communing with nature in our daily lives I believe we can achieve a sense of balance and peace that translates into joy and fellowship with all of humanity. As we patiently wait for the seasons to change, for the Earth to warm, seeds to grow and eggs to hatch each of us can find our place in a safe and abundant ecosystem whose ecology and economy are one and the same.
No matter how busy you might be, take a few minutes each day to find your place in the natural world. Though some might consider spending time outside a leisurely preoccupation of the privileged or an idle indolence of the lazy I suggest instead that it is an essential part of what it is to be a whole and healthy human being. So go outside and take a walk, ride your bike, paddle a boat or just find some place to sit near something green and growing. Breath deep and bask in the sunshine of a world filled with beauty, love and joy.
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