Thursday, September 26, 2013

On the Spirituality of streams and fish.

So today i put my line in the water for Erie steelhead for the first time in a year. I only caught one fish, decent sized, but not amazing and this was still one of the best days of my life. I had forgotten, or at least allowed to fade in my mind, the joy of a trout that one cannot fit ones hand around. At the end of any succesful battle of man versus fish comes the inevitable decision of consumption versus conservation. I prefer to think of it as consumption versus fairness. The fish gives me only its best effort no matter how cruelly I may have deceived it. There is nothing more beautiful to me than holding an exhausted fish, just slightly submerged in the recovery position, nose pointed upstream to run water over its gills and provide it with oxygen, thrust it upstream in the water two or three times, then release it and feel its muscles twitch driving it out into the stream again, essentially no different than when I found it. I love fish better than most people. My best for their best, simplicity, honor, honesty. No lies, no bullshit. Man, fish, stream.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Zen at one and a half barge lengths

            I had recently become enamored with the idea of “peace around the next bend.” Which implies that perhaps life, like a river, meanders, and that eventually one of these serpentine portions will gracefully unroll itself before me with a peaceful utopia waiting, laid beautifully at my feet on the other side. I believe I became enamored with this because I am tired. Tired of endlessly living out of duffle bags and sleeping on boats in hammocks and tiny bunks. Tired of feeling that I have no fixed place in this world that is mine. Tired of Mariah, and so many others that I love so dearly feeling so far away all too often. I became enamored with this idea because I am scared all the time, mostly of rejection, breach of trust, and an apparently almost total lack of human gratitude and decency. I am afraid of every woman in my life because if thirty seven years of selfless sacrifice and hard work does not merit absolute and unyielding loyalty what can I give to obtain it? My trust of others is a small green shoot shattered in seeming perpetuity only to rise up again still poignantly aware of how badly each past betrayal hurt. I’m tired of being tired, tired of being scared, and most of all tired of being angry. Despite my hatred of all these feelings they are part of the boat that is my life. No matter my relation to each new bend I’m still on this boat. This boat is my ride. This boat is my life.

            I have finally realized that peace will not come around the next bend. Peace must come from within. Though the fatigue, fear, and anger may never fade completely, peace exists in a mind empty enough to evaluate every interaction, moment, new face, and trial as it comes. The bends obfuscate no magical solution. I found an analogy on a boat. Something magical happens about one and a half barge lengths out on a five barge length tow. All of the noise pollution of two 1500 horse marine diesels fades into an oblivion so beautiful it elevates the state of the soul. All of the roiling, throbbing, discontent of this diesel fueled beast fades off , slides right out of the mind, out of existence, and standing there in the sun with a breeze on your face life becomes shockingly simple, quiet, and serene. You know just what to do and set about it as you and 22,500 tons of coal and steel slip effortlessly through the water as if only your sense of purpose and contentment propel it. This feeling is peace, zen one and a half barge lengths out. I believe the analogy fits. All that remains is to find this place, removed just enough from the negative energy of my boat for peace to prosper.

Monday, September 9, 2013

This was all I got out of a five week hitch on the rivers. oh well, better than nothing.

Seated upon a coil of line
On the head of a towboat
Shrouded in the fog
That rose, interminable from the
Brown serpentine line of
That ancient river was a man.

Thousands of miles from what he loved
What mattered.
What granted meaning.

Eleven months gone now
In a blur of displacement
And commuting, punctuated
Only by notable highlights
And the stubborn ghosts
Of the past, their corporal
Form sticking stubbornly
To the secret inner workings of his mind.
The sanctuary violated.
A consciousness marred, yet subtly
Improved by the vagaries of
The world, and the callous, wanton
Hate the people that walked through it so frequently
And tragically, displayed.

So few are good to one another.
So he will float perpetually
In escape amongst the brown water,
Industrial ratchets, steel cable,
Kevlar lines, cheater pipes, and sweat.

He will cleave these tows in half
And force them through locks one
Cut at a time until the process,
The barges, each lock, and every inch
Of river becomes part of his soul.

And someday, perhaps, he will find peace.

Just around that next bend.