This year I made good on my promise to run away from home.
A long time ago, I read that each year Nora Ephron used to take a week by herself and wander in the mountains of California. At the time I wasn’t a professional writer, just a fan—so I didn’t give her pilgrimage much thought. I remember being worried about her safety out there in the wilds all by herself, but that was about it. Now, after several years slaving over a hot computer as a full-time gig, hoping against hope to be maybe half as good as Nora was on her worst day, I have a different perspective on her time-out.
Through my life I’ve been the slave to several masters, including a toddler, a teenager, a legal career, and more than my share of demanding men. To be honest, the last three years had been pretty draining: I’d ended a fifteen year marriage, moved three times, ditched the legal career, launched a writing career (three books, two novellas, and counting). I’d learned FaceBook, become a Twitter quitter, learned how to speak in public without throwing up…most of the time. And I’d married off my only child.
And I hadn’t an ounce of juice left. The creative well was completely dry.
Nora had said that’s why she took time to herself—to recharge, regenerate, replenish. If it was good enough for Nora then by God, time to myself was good enough for me. What did I have to lose? So, I conned my aunt out of her condo in Jackson, Wyoming. Yes, she loves me a lot. And it’s very nice having fully-funded family.
August 1st I packed my meager belongings and headed to the wilds of Grand Teton National Park, so looking forward to stepping off the treadmill for a bit.
Jackson was beautiful when I arrived—cool nights, warm days. Ah relaxation! To be honest, the whole letting go thing wasn’t as easy as I thought. For the first two weeks in paradise I worried myself silly. I needed to be back in Dallas taking care of my folks. No, I needed to be in Vegas taking care of my career. No, I needed to….
…so get over myself.
So, I did what anyone else would do, I went fly-fishing.
Now, just to set the record straight, I knew absolutely zip point doodle about fly-fishing. And I have this thing about not being in control. And handing me something with a hook on the end of it and asking me to wave it around over my head has never been a good idea.
So, I arrived at the outfitters at o’ dark-hundred, in sandals despite the fact that it was forty friggin’ degrees, sporting a bad case of very thin blood, and thinking this was a really bonehead idea.
Turns out I was only partially right.
Did you know you can actually hook a pair of sunglasses, rip them off your face then fling them at least fifty yards…without losing an eye in the process? Yeah, me either.
We pushed off, my guide and me—yes, only the two of us. If anyone else had been in the boat there would’ve been bloodshed—as it was we came close. As we floated down the Snake River, I learned to cast—okay, I learned the theory of casting. Putting theory into practice was a bit more difficult than I thought. I’d seen A River Runs Through It a million times—what more did I need to know? Turns out, a lot.
I tangled the line a couple of times, gave my sunglasses as an offering to the gods as I mentioned, hooked my guide’s hat…only once…he was very understanding. Then I found a bit of a rhythm. And I learned that while you fly-fish, you really can’t think about anything else.
This is the key. Silence filtered through my thick skull and I could hear my thoughts. Peace settled over me. Life would be okay…or it wouldn’t. Worry and tilting at windmills wouldn’t change the outcome. And, amazingly enough, the rest of Mankind could muddle through without my constant help.
Understanding bloomed and I felt a bond with Nora. Now, if she’d just whisper a few story tips, life would be great.
What are your tricks for offloading life’s worries and stress, for taking care of you?