Missed Opportunities and Hidden Treasure.
Each morning as I leave my home and head off to work my mind huddles in the corner of my own little OCD room and I count to five. Eyeglasses, badge, wallet, cell phone, and car keys, each where they're supposed to be. I kiss my wife goodbye as she cooks breakfast for my boys and I give each of them a hug. When I was much younger I didn't count. I would reach my truck and realize that one of the articles were missing then I would turn around and go back in the house a little bit frustrated that my brain hadn’t picked up on the missing article. That is what being young is about, missing opportunities and being frustrated.
Now that I'm much older I realize that missed opportunities or suffering are actually opportunities of a different sort. For instance, each of those days I forgot something, I received an additional kiss from my beautiful wife (Deja-Smooch and totally worth) and another hug from each of my boys. (Re-Hugs are good too.) The cost for this great treasure was nothing more than a 50-foot walk into my home and back out. A little bit of suffering goes a long way.
I am sure you have heard that elk hunting is one of the most grueling and difficult experiences one can engage in. While it is true that terrain that these magnificent creatures inhabit is strenuous to traverse at best and likely to kill you in the worst-case scenario, it is also some of the most majestic and beautiful scenery a person can find. Another aspect relating to the troublesome part of finding the Wiley Wapiti is the tediousness with which one must stand and stalk for hours and hours over this lovely terrain. If you are in my area of the world you have to throw in freezing temperatures and a whole lot of wet. Tediousness and suffering are exactly why I love to chase this incredible animal, that and elk steak fried in butter with jalapenos. The hunt is a training ground for life.
The hunt begins when you realize you want to stalk elk, and it never ends. My trips throughout the year to test my straw filters, to hang hammocks in trees, and to put my boots and no tie elastic shoe laces to the test over miles of hard terrain are all in preparation for finding my quarry. I discover habits, resting grounds, and feeding grounds. I stumble upon trails where creatures pass from one Valley to another, one mountain to another. My knees swell after miles of hiking. My back aches from the occasional slip. (If you are at all familiar with my blog you know I'm clumsy.) My hips are bruised from where I land from several falls and on more than one occasion I'm sure to break or lose an expensive piece of equipment. I know what suffering lies ahead but every year without fail I begin the journey again.
Each trail followed every frustration and plan that goes awry is an opportunity to find a hidden treasure. The work we do, the preparations we make, and the goals we set all become part of a beautiful picture we paint in our minds. The picture does not always manifest exactly as we had predicted, but if we are willing to accept variances within each brush stroke we can find hidden beauty and opportunities that we could've never imagined. Now that I'm older I must confess that on occasion I leave one of my articles sitting on my dresser. In my painting, every day begins with Dutch oven quiche and a “Deja-Smooch.”