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The Road Less Trammeled
by Steven T. Rider

Riverside Journey to Self    June 04, 2004

This month take a journey to self. It need not be of long duration or far afield. I took advantage of an opportunity to get away for the weekend which corresponded with an obligation of my wife’s in the Catskill Mountains. Never being one to miss a chance to slip away, I tagged along. We packed up the motorhome and took the surprisingly short ride to one of our favorite spots along the Beaverkill. I weakened in my resolve never to indulge in something heavier than a canvas tent over the years and acquiesced to my bride’s desire for the creature comforts. While she was busy, I soaked up the solitude.

The campsite was on the river, which was moving with deliberation downstream. Recent rains had quickened its pace, but the water was clear and not at all warm. Those steady sounds of moving water are every bit as therapeutic as a sedative. The mergansers would streak silently upstream mere inches above the water surface only to be seen a short time later drifting downstream atop the river, disappearing momentarily under water in pursuit of a meal.

The orioles and red-winged blackbirds were busy with nest-building activities, taking time out only to lay claim to their territory with bursts of joyful noise. Brown caddis flies and March Brown Mayflies were emerging sporadically from the river surface. The occasional sudden splash or telltale ring on the water marked the end of a fly’s struggle to survive at the hands (or should I say fins) of a hungry trout.

As I began to put the urgent matters of my life on hold, they receded into the background. The world at my doorstep advanced to fill my senses. The smells of spring were everywhere. The verdant, vibrant greens were electric. The cavalcade of life that surrounded me was not chaotic or frenzied, but purposeful and interwoven, seamless and perfect.

I spent the next two days blending into the fabric of life on the river. I do admit to breaking out my fly rod and tempting several of the trout to entertain me, but with no success. By the time Sunday afternoon arrived, the troubles that had left the house with me were no longer foremost in my mind. They were still troubles, but not quite so troublesome as they were two days previous. Once I was no longer trapped in my own little world, it became clear that the Sun would still be rising in the East, and the Universe was basically unchanged, regardless of my outlook.

Find a quiet place, and you’ll discover that reason abounds there. Linger for two days away from those surroundings that bind you to your obligations and responsibilities. Use that time to reset your natural clock and adjust your tempo to that of the world around you, filled with life and wonder. You’ll be glad you did.

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