The Try of Life

So far, I’ve learned that there are reasons for everything in life. Most of the reasons for most things in our lives will never be known to each other. That’s life. It’s why it’s almost impossible to be critical or judgmental about what I or you do with our lives – what happened yesterday affects our today and today impacts our tomorrow. Behind the scenes, our lives are a fascinating tapestry woven through time. It’s all quite a ride.

To be brief, the past 5 years we’d allowed ourselves to be completely consumed by work, by Fisheries issues. We lived in a city an hour to good fly fishing, a city too far removed from the mountains. We felt confined, trapped, without possibility. It was a very heavy time. 

So, we stopped and considered all things, seriously asking ourselves if this is what we wanted for our today, let alone for our tomorrow. We examined every angle of our lives for about a year. We looked at where we were, how and why we arrived there and looked at the future of that. And at the end of that year of introspection, we made a decision a year ago to change everything. We pushed as hard as we could to shed ourselves of what had become a liability in remaining shareholders at our lodge; we had to find buyers for the Alberta Fishing Guide Magazine (ask yourself how to sell a regional, niche print magazine these days?); we had to decide where to move in Alberta (nowhere else in Canada has the brown trout fishing); had to find a house to purchase and sell our house in Red Deer. Selling the magazine in itself was an extremely emotional thing for me personally. When your close friend has a terminal diagnosis and begins to accept his finality and you take on his business to ensure his legacy and to provide some retirement income for his wife, at the same time examining if that business is a fit for your life, you experience waves of thoughts and emotions in the decision to sell. So too the decision to move away from central Alberta, our home fishing waters and all the Fisheries lobby I’ve been involved with the past 25 years. 

As you can imagine, the above is a concise, tight, glossy version of reality as I’ll share here. Again, there are reasons for everything in life and things don’t always go smoothly nor as planned.

Shit has this past year been an involved, scary, uncertain time. 

But scarier would have been to stay where we were than to take on the above, to change everything, to have a vision planted in our heads and actually go for it. 

Now that we have moved to a new town smack in the middle of everything we love – as much water, rafting, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking within 30 minutes of home as you can ever hope for or dream of – we keep pinching ourselves this first month… could we have picked a better location or a better house for us to have moved to? What has smacked us in the face is just how heavy the past 5 years were and how misplaced we’d been in living in the wrong location for us. Where it took hours and a lot of gas money to travel to have fun, we not only now are minutes to trout water but also 15 to incredible mountain biking, 

Look, if that sounded fluffy, let’s rewind the tapes of our life. We’ve been married 20 years. I married a judge’s daughter and said judge might have been a “little vocally skeptical” of our plan for our lives (speaking of abridged versions!). We began our try over 20 years back together. We cobbled together a fly fishing guide company and took our lumps in learning that game. Things changed during floods that ravaged rivers that we’d based our business on. We kept trying and bought a house that we thought would be a B&B in Red Deer based on that fishery that was wiped out. We shifted gears and kept trying, buying a back country lodge at the same time as the US economic crisis hit. We kept trying. We almost got over that hump when the Alberta economy tanked. Then Barry’s health diagnosis hit. We shifted gears again and took on his magazine. If you think that was roses, consider this: in taking on Barry’s magazine, the Alberta Fishing Guide, there were 3 or 400 people who he knew and had wonderful business relationships with. He was focused on his health and as we took on his magazine and began to talk to advertisers, retailers, writers, wholesalers, editors… everyone… I found myself providing updates on Barry’s health 3 or 4 times for those hundreds of people. Not only did I have to wade through the process of losing the man who was the most kindred spirit I’ve had in fishing in my lifetime, I had to be sounding board for that many people that many times. It became an emotional hurdle I wouldn’t get over. 

Our decision to change everything has me in a place of rediscovering that life is incredibly wonderful, that there are opportunities, possibilities. 

That there is play time.

And we can choose to re-prioritize some things in life to ensure we do play. To simply have the joy of a child as we hop in the truck with our mountain bikes and go take on a ridiculous bike ride and its 1500 foot ascent during a never-ending thunderstorm with hail, sleet, and driving rain because it’s close by and we’d been waiting years to live this close to a place where we could. Or simply Google nearby hiking trails and drive 13 minutes west and hike to a viewpoint because we simply need the heart rate. Or to deliberately fish the lower, unknown reaches of trout streams down here because, frankly, the Red Deer River near the city of Red Deer is such a poor brown trout river that even finding 2 or 5 rising trout on the worst river near here is a joy by comparison. 

“At the start of every day
A child begins to play
And all we need to know
Is that the future is a friend of yours and mine”

Those are the final lines of Holy Lamb by Yes. On this year’s trip to New Zealand, once all our business deals had gone through and the decision to move final, the last fisheries issue dealt with and we finally took ‘us time’, we found ourselves listening to this song one morning up a stunning valley. I woke up at the deep blue of pre-dawn and went for a good walk and to sit to think and to simply let go. It was amazing. Wonderful. The song, well you know how songs are. It resonated. 

Those are words to live life by. Indeed. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for certain. But it’s time to play a little again. And by God has it been fun thus far in the new home town. 

But there are a few more words that struck in that same song that morning.

“I can tell a new story now
Can we see through this mask of uncertainty
Surely now
How can it be so hard when all there is to know
Don’t be afraid of letting go
It takes a loving heart
To see and show
This love”

I guess I share to simply encourage you, to remind myself. Sometimes, like us, you have to try 5, 6, or 7 times to find a place in life that is you. And sometimes that new place (be it geographic, emotional, spiritual, relational, etc) only lasts a short time, sometimes it lasts a lifetime. I don’t know which this is. But we have to keep trying. Keep poking here and there. Keep looking and discovering. Sometimes things work. Sometimes we fail miserably. That’s life. We can’t dwell in mud. We can relish the wonderful. And in the end we lived what we lived for as long as we were lucky enough to do so. I’m simply sharing this all as a note to you, to me, as reminder that we simply have to keep taking it on, living, trying.


2 thoughts on “The Try of Life

  • June 24, 2018 at 5:42 am

    Sounds to me like you’ve had a life well lived. Not that I envy it, it mirrors my own in many ways (just with fewer great fish 🙂 in mine) I’m older than you, nearer the twilight of my time, but I still believe there are new adventures for me. (Who knows, maybe I’ll make it to Alberta one time with my son and grandson.) It’s gratifying to me to get to share your thoughts. Thank you!

    Dr. Michael MacChesney

    • June 24, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      So far! 🙂 And in that there’s the ever-presence of being thankful for making it this far. 🙂 I think we can all be so grateful no matter our age – and each day we’re here is an opportunity to give life a go. Sometimes we just can’t see that opportunity for the thick forest we submit ourselves to, so sometimes we have to thin the trees to see the path ahead. 🙂


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