April 2, 2010


I don't remember where I was, or who it was I was speaking with. I was seated at a long, low table, like the tables we had in our grade school library, across from a chubby, bespectacled gentleman who was in the process of querying me about my current state of health. He was recording my responses on a very official-looking document with a very expensive pen as he proceeded through the form.
At the end of the last page, he coughed, rubbed his nose, and asked me what I did for a living.
I remember looking at the clock over his left shoulder for the longest time while he sat, eyes down, pen on paper, waiting for my answer. I watched the second hand as it swept upward to the twelve and then started on its way down again. It was nearly to the six when I realized that he was now looking at me. My eyes met his.
"I am a flyfisherman," I replied.
"You are. That's wonderful," and went on. "My grandfather worked for the railroad for forty-five years and fly fished, too. Such a poetic way to fish. But, I need to know what you do for a living," he stated, eyes going back down, pen again poised.
"Yes. I know you do. And I just told you. I told you what I do for a living. Now, if you were to ask what it is I do that is slowly killing me, or taking time from me never to be returned even in memory, then I have no answer. And that is because I no longer do those things which would slowly kill me, would rob me of precious time, or that simply do not mean anything to me other than as an alternative means to an end that befalls every one of us no matter how well spent or miserably squandered our lives have been. So, if we're done here now I'll go."
I smiled back at him as I stood, noticing the redness in his cheeks, and that the point of his pen had wandered down the rest of the sheet leaving a blue trail of ink as it went.
"Mr. Moss...", his voice trailed off as I turned and started back down the hallway,"I still have a few more questions... Mr. Moss? Mr. Moss?"
The snow was wet and coming down thickly in huge, misshapen flakes by the time I reached my car. I sat there for a while, watching them slide down the windshield, and for a few moments regretted what I'd just put that gentleman through.
I told myself that he was only doing his job. Gathering information is what he does. Other than that I know nothing about him or his family,or if he has kids. I know nothing of his dreams, his plans, his past, or what kind of day he's had. And then, just as quickly as I thought that, I had to smile. I probably made his day. Something out of the ordinary had happened to make this day memorable for him. A guy sits down and tells him he's a flyfisherman and that's all that matters and then he stands up and walks out.
I sat, watching the falling snow, and nodded my head.
That is all that matters. Not the years spent doing this, or that. Not the time accrued performing menial, strenuous tasks here and there. Not the life wasted in frustration trying to solve problems that were never going to be solved, or the years spent in search of that which other people thought I should be pursuing.
That which is good for one man is not that which is good for another.
I make it by. I provide for myself enough to survive. I will never be a rich man in terms others would define as wealth. I understand where it is I am in my life, and I am richer than most for the comfort I gain from that knowledge. I have known for awhile now what it is that is most important to me. I know what is precious, and worth my time, and I know what I do not need, or have use for.
It is so simple. It has always been that way. It took time, but the years have educated me well. Turns out that time has been, after all I have been through, well spent.
Much like the loop of the cast, my life reaches out, turning over into the years my fly, upon which rides the pursuit of something that I do not yet know, and cannot possibly at this point comprehend. Each day is an expanding ring into which I look for the answer to questions I have yet to formulate.
When all is said, and all is done, we, as individuals, are the only ones who can really know if how we lived our lives has been worth our while.
The snow falls steadily as I pull out into traffic, lost in thoughts of flies, fish, and clear running water.

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