Monday, January 15, 2007

Find The Fish

Jake’s Junior Ranger Guide for the Muir Woods pointed us in the direction of the water. Find the fish, trout or salmon.

I can never find the fish, Walter said.

As we were walking, he noticed I kept my eyes on the stream.

Trying to find one? He laughed.

Yes. And it’s the wrong season. Still, I could not pull my eyes away from the water.

It reminded me of hunting for fossils. My father would take us, on occasion, on day trips to hunt for fossils. Once, we drove to Herkimer, New York, to look for Herkimer diamonds. A quartz crystal, with hardness, clarity and natural facets resembling diamonds, they are only found in a small area in and around the town of Herkimer. More often, though, we went to quarries and gravel pits closer to Rochester. Armed with a small rock pick and the desire to do anything but sit in his foul apartment for the day, I would settle in next to a shale wall.

I liked being out in the sun and away from my father.

While I was hunched over, picking through stones looking for hardened pieces of trilobites or shells, I learned how to focus in on a single moment, a piece of stone and block the rest out.

It probably saved my life.

Looking for the fish, like looking for a tiny remnant on a rock, pulled me so far away into myself I forgot all that was around me. I forgot my sons. I forgot Jeanine and Walter were walking with me. I lost focus on the whole picture.

Walter’s gentle tug pulled me back. I saw the branches on the trees. I saw the sun peaking through the redwoods.

I don’t need to lose the whole picture anymore.

I don’t need to be afraid.

It is deeply rooted in me, the need to be far away, to escape the present. A reflex.

I can look for the fish. For a moment. Two. But not at the cost of those around me.


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