You hear it all the time, hell, I’ve even said it myself: “it goes fast”. But nothing can really prepare you for how fast life actually goes. How you can be in your twenties and blink and you’re in your forties, blink again and sixty will be staring you in the face. Or how fast the life of your favorite dog can pass by, or how quickly your kids can grow up literally before your eyes. It goes fast. All of it.
When I was younger, my thoughts were always to the future, to what’s next. As I get older, more often than not, my thoughts turn towards the past; the memories of days gone by.
What I’ve never been great at is being in the moment. Being present in what’s in front of me right now. Other than those times in the wild, away from distractions. Away from the self-inflicted slavery of technology. Away from the to-do list. Away, for the moment, from the seemingly pressing planning and noise and busyness of life.
I’ve been fortunate to have shared a few of these quiet moments with my dad, my wife, my dog, my close friends and my two boys. And, I’ve been equally fortunate to have access to relatively untouched places that make these moments possible.
It’s a good reminder to savor every single moment. To stop, or at the very least, slow down.
To take in a deep breath of the warm summer air. The rich fragrance of the leaves. The mud. The water. The wildflowers. The nostalgic scent that can only come from an old outboard or bacon cooking outdoors.
Look closely at what’s around you. The morning mist burning off the placid lake at sunrise. The fireflies dancing in the star-filled sky. Look again. The moose tucked just into the brush, that on busier days you would have missed. That content smile on your loved one’s face.
Run your fingers through the cool water. Feel the heat from the campfire on your skin. The rough bark of the logs and the smooth handle of the axe.
Savor that venison cooked just enough over the fire. That quick bite on the tongue of your favorite drink. The rich complexity of the dark chocolate that you finally remembered to pack. The morning coffee that welcomes in a new day of adventure.
Listen, really listen, to the sounds. The zing of your fishing line through the eyelets of your rod. The pop and crackle of the campfire. The distant call of the loon and the answer. The crickets outside your tent. The tree frogs. The quiet wind as it brushes gently through the trees. The words of those that you share this time with.
Fill your senses. Savor it. For this moment, like all moments, is special and will never come again. It is fleeting. Temporary. It lives again only in the stories of older men shared around a campfire in the wild.
Allen Crater is a member of the Michigan Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.