A Wedding Message for Matthew and Jennifer

My nephew Matt married his beloved Jennifer last Saturday in St. Louis. While I had the opportunity to attend both the wedding and the reception, and was moved at the first and had a good time at the latter, there wasn’t an opportunity to offer my own thoughts on their marriage at either venue. So I’ve decided to put it here.

I think the most important things in life often relate to issues of context and choice.

Let’s start with context.

Both of you were a long time coming to this marriage. You’ve both lived the highs and lows of life; “some of it was magic, some of it was tragic, but I had a good life all the way”, as Jimmy Buffett sang at the end of “He Went to Paris”.

And through those years were the hopes for, as well as doubts and fears about, for finding that special person.

As you now stand together in the first moments of your marriage, one last look back at your individual lives is important.

The tempering of your lives made you each stronger and better individuals, and has given you the life experiences to understand that living is often about acceptance and finding the blessed in life – what Rumi, the Sufi poet, meant by “it is what it is”.

The fears and doubts have given you each wisdom to appreciate how truly precious it is to have found someone to love and be loved by.

Together, the acceptance of life and your earned wisdom allow you to enter marriage with a maturity that younger couples often lack. They provide the foundation for you to grow together in ways you have yet to learn. And speaking practically, they allow you to move quickly through the rough patches that every married couple face.

You both made outstanding choices in each other.

Matt, you are a good man. I’ve loved you and been proud of you since you were a little boy.

You had a very good role model in grandpa, who in spite of his often gruff manner, was at heart a kind decent man. And your own journey in life turned you into the good man that Jennifer fell in love with. I only got to know Jennifer a bit when you were visiting us last year, but I’m confident that with her love you’ll turn into an even better man than you ever thought possible.

Jennifer,of all the people I have ever encountered, Matt has the purest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. I know he will love you completely and unconditionally for the rest of his life. His sometimes silly ways – including his ongoing obsession with all things Star Wars 🙂 – masks a reserve of compassion and empathy that will support you through all that you seek in your life.

Best wishes for a long and happy life together.

I love you both.

Casting Off the Lines of Corporate Life

Today was my last day working in a full-time corporate job; officially I’m now laid off due to a Reduction In Force, with retirement starting on October 1st. But for practical purposes I’m as good as retired.

Good bye and good riddance.

Whatever my corporate career was to be when I started, it’s ended with the owners of my circle of Corporate America’s version of Dante’s Inferno doing their very best to crush the life, spirit, and independent thinking out of me. I succeeded in remaining a bit of an eccentric maverick through most of my time in it. And I come out of it more cynical than when I entered.

At the same time, I also became a bit more hopeful due the people I worked with and have known working all these long years. Seeing the dignity and humor with which people lived their lives as they faced increasingly meaningless work, idiotic rules, and ineffective managers – a number of whom were vainglorious jerks – was a source of inspiration and optimism.

So now to begin the new journey in what some call the third act of life.

Many retirement books I’ve read say, and from what I’ve heard from friends who have retired, it takes several months to let go of the corporate zeitgeist. So, I’m going with the flow and I’m not setting up a schedule.

Beyond that, I look upon this next part of life as setting out on the ocean. I’m not quite sure yet what course to steer, but I’ve got enough to do while I’m thinking about it. Several jobs around the house will take up a good deal of October.And there are dogs that need their daily walk. And getting out into the water with fly rod in hand.

To those I leave behind, I salute you.

Wading Fly Fisher Dies on Cowlitz River

Tragically, a man from Gig Harbor was killed Tuesday while fly fishing on the Cowlitz River near Toledo Washington. He apparently slipped in the current while wading. He was unconscious when rescued and CPR was started immediately. He was then transported to an Olympia hospital. Unfortunately, the man died about five hours later.

Drowning is the suspected cause of death but an autopsy will be performed to confirm.

All of my fishing is now in Puget Sound saltwater. So shallow wading is the norm. Particularly when targeting Sea Run Cutthroat Trout, going deeper means the fish will be closer to the beach than me.

But there are locations that have tidal currents that are as strong as some streams. A strong ebb current out of Burley Lagoon near Purdy looks like a river. Take one or two too many steps into the current and the water pressure is surprising – certainly enough to knock me down when the water was above my knees. I understood when it happened how risky that was.

It was a lesson I learned on the Yakima River.

I was deep wading in the upper Yakima above Cle Elum, I stepped into a sloped pool and started to go buoyant. There were several scary minutes until I could work my way on my tip toes to shallower water. Even with the gentle current that day I felt like I was not in control of the situation.

Fortunately for me, that changed my outlook and rules on wading – even if fly fishing magazines (and some catalogs ) have plenty of photographs showing someone up to his (always his) chest in wild water. That’s dumb and risky.

So my rule is to stay shallow. In practice I try to go in no deeper that my knees. At times, I will go in to mid thigh but only if I’m sure of the conditions and my footing, and I know why i’m doing it.That raises the related point that being in the water requires awareness at all times.

Another dumb thing I’ve seen is someone in waders not wearing a wading belt. And that includes some well-known fly rod maker representatives doing in-water demos. I think it sends a bad message. Wearing waders? Wear a snug wading belt.

Finally, I have a wading staff. I carry it at times and locations where the wading might be tricky. While I’ve never had to use it – it’s a comfort to know it’s there.

I don’t know the man who died. I may have seen him at the Gig Harbor Fly Shop but I’ll never know.

All I know is this is another tragic reminder of how precious life is. Rest in peace.

The news article can be found here.