When I turned 60 it was a weird feeling, something I had not experience with previous birthdays. I remember thinking, “SIXTY! Am I really 60?” Where did time go? Looking back I realize how much of it I had “wished away”. We all can fall into this trap. There are life challenges to overcome and tasks to complete in order to reach our ultimate dream. Suddenly, though, we realize that the best years of our life were focused on the destination or goal in front of us. In doing so, we fail to fully appreciate the journey along the way.
I am a fly fishing “nut”. I will fly fish any time, any place, under any condition (well almost any condition!). In my earliest days, I would fish from sun up to sun down climbing over boulders, bypassing waterfalls, wading treacherous rapids in search of that next trout. Through the years, my passion for fly fishing has not faded, but my attitude has changed. It is no longer about how many trout I catch or how big they are. Instead it’s about the experience – standing in a cold, clear mountain stream, fly rod in hand, casting to rising trout, the surrounding beauty of nature, sunlight reflecting off the water, a bald eagle suddenly swooping to the water and grabbing a trout – the sights and scenes that are the beauty of fly fishing. I now take the time to pause and look around, soaking in the beauty and fully appreciating the experience. I will even sit at the edge of the stream and, I confess freely, smoke a cigar! Fly fishing for me is far more than simply catching fish, just as life is far more than some destination or goal we are always trying to reach.
I have done many things in my life and there is much more I still want to do. High on my list, as strange as it may seem, is to see every sunrise and every sunset I possibly can. I cannot remember the last time I missed either. This started during a difficult time in my life. Coffee in hand, the stillness of the early morning, the sun slowly rising creating its own magnificent poetry of colors, fed my soul. It allows me to reflect, meditate, pray, and notice all that surrounds me-the plants and flowers and trees and birds. In these, I find joy. I find peace.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The Earth laughs in flowers”. Life is too precious and too short to not hear the laughter of the Earth in the flowers and take in the beauty of a sunrise and sunset. May each of you find your own “sunrise and sunset”; may you find the peace, contentment, and joy that feeds your soul.
What you do is important. What you do makes a difference. What you do is still a privilege. Thank you for who you are.
Andy Lamb, MD