I glanced at my watch. I’d missed the meat of the morning hatch, but maybe if we hurried…
“Come on bud,” I called over my shoulder. “We’re headed upstream.”
“Dada, Dada look it, my feet are gone,” he answered, unmoved by my impatience.
“Uh-huh. Let’s go.”
“Can’t. No feet.”
And no mayflies soon either I thought, eyeing the climbing sun. Getting out the door had been like pushing a rope uphill. We’d lost another twenty minutes to hopper hunting at the truck and every bird, bug and beaver-cut we spotted crossing the meadow required a five minute discussion. We only had a few hours for fishing between the day’s errands and the clock was ticking.
“Son! Let’s go.”
“Daaaa Daaaaa!” he replied, echoing my exasperation. “Look.”
I took a deep breath and turned to look, resigned to humoring him as the quickest way forward. And there he stood grinning in the shallows, his feet burrowed deep into the sandy riverbed.
“Cool,” I cooed, checking my watch again. “The next hole has good sand too. Let’s go check it out.”
“Oh, oh! Look it! Fish!”
My head whipped back to the river. I didn’t have to wait long for the next splashy take to appear… right where I’d been flogging the water moments before.
I turned back to the six-year-old and finally noticed what I’d missed. While I’d been racing ahead imagining some future experience, anxious about what I was going to miss, he’d stayed rooted, literally and figuratively, in the present place and moment — the only moment — and missed nothing at all.
If history is any guide, I’ll struggle to hold-on to the lesson.
Then again, turning the fish loose a few minutes later felt about right. Maybe holding-on was the problem to begin with.