I am about 10 days away from what will be the fishing trip of my lifetime so far. My Dad and I are packing up and taking a two week fly fishing road trip, meandering our way north to eventually reach Yellowstone National Park. We have days planned in Provo, UT and surrounding area, Idaho Falls and then over into Wyoming. We have never done this before, and we both have some honest concerns that he and I may never do this extensive of a trip again.
As with everyone, I see the days of my father’s time in the outdoors dwindling. Although his mind is game, his body is showing the wear and tear of his advanced years. It happens to all of us, at least if we are lucky. Many never see the twilight days of their seventies and eighties, even though most of us assume that we will. Lots of people never consider their own demise at all, or at least until much, much later in life. Some may tell you this is the easiest way to cope with the finality of life, but I disagree. I think it is misleading; it makes you think you have plenty of time left.
Being aware that you and the people you love are going to die, at an undetermined time in the future, is a harsh reality. But I firmly believe that the awareness of this (should) force you to take action, and that is a good thing.
As much as I hate the thought of my Dad and I no longer being able to do things like this together, that time is coming. We have put off, for one reason or another, a trip like this my whole life. It is easy to blame it on lack of funds, or lack of time off work, etc., but in retrospect the opportunity was there. I have spent money on other things I couldn’t afford, and I have taken time way from work without real penalty. The reality is I am LUCKY that I am not giving his eulogy stating how we wanted to but never did. THAT would be difficult to live with; his passing will be sad, no matter when it happens, but not tragic. He has lead a full life, done a lot of things he’s wanted to do. There is always more to do, more to aspire to, but by and large I think he will look back and be happy with the things he has done. I want to be able to say the same when my time comes.
This trip will stretch over two weeks, and cover territory neither of us has ever seen. It will be a an adventure, one with a very loose structure, and no true checklist other than to fish, drive, and enjoy. As much as I had always hoped I would have the money for he and I to do a trip to New Zealand or to Chile for fly fishing, it appears those days have passed us. I don’t think he could withstand the travel required to go to those places any longer. It would be about $10,000 for the two of us to go to the place in Chile I had discovered online, not counting the airfare to get there. That is cost-prohibitive to most people, and I fall onto that list. As much as I wanted to do this as a gift for my father, it just wasn’t in the cards. Not doing this doesn’t diminish the other adventures and trips we’ve had. And yes, I do understand how fortune we are to have had so many trips together. It has been a special relationship throughout my life, and I have cherished every moment to the best of my ability.
I want to do more of these kind of trips as my life presses on. There is so much out there to see and explore and experience. If I am extremely lucky, I am halfway through my life’s opportunities to check a lot more off of the list. My wife and I went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon, which was amazing. But there are hundreds of rivers and lakes and mountains to see here in the U.S., so I could foresee much more focus on domestic travel than world travel. She likes to do outdoor things as well, but she doesn’t fish. She does love to hike and explore and see new places, so the match is close enough to perfect for both of us. To give us the ability to do more, we are working diligently to become debt free as soon as possible and that will give us far more opportunity to achieve these goals. But this does not mean skip the trip my Dad and I want to do. Some things cannot be put off…
Dad and I will be hitting the road soon, and we will savor the time together, and the adventure, maybe a little more than usual this time. We are both aware of a nebulous timeline that continues to approach. We can’t see it coming, but we know it is on its way. We live cognizant of this and do our best to not take for granted to time we have left. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DO THE SAME, as you can never get this time back. Whether your situation is to make amends with someone, bury a long standing feud, or take advantage of spending time with someone you love, take action. Regret sucks, but it is even worse when the reality of you COULD HAVE done something differently hits you.
The lesson here is not about fly fishing, it is about prioritizing the things in life that matter. Tomorrow is promised to no one; you can turn a blind eye to that and deal with the consequences, or you can use this knowledge to take action before it’s too late.
Dream. Plan. Do…and then start again.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.