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It was a fine, unseasonably mild, Sunday afternoon at Riverfront Park in Spokane Washington. I was sitting on lush grass in an amphitheater overlooking what once was an ice skating rink my cousin Peter and I would whizz around on as kids.

Long gone is the Ice Palace, and in its place on that Sunday was the future leaders of our country – the graduating class of 2021 of Lewis and Clark High School. Out there in the sea of robes was my cousin Peter’s son, Ethan. As luck would have it, I had some time off work, and discovered that I could make the trip up for the big event.

The ceremony and time with my dear family was lovely. And the graduation party, a backyard BBQ – my first in such a long time was magical. There was so much love, and so much hope for the future. It felt grand.

The following day however was the highlight of the trip for me. Ethan was kind enough to take me to one of his favorite fishing spots – a little spring creek West of Spokane. Ethan and I share a deep love for nature, and it seems we also love the same style of fishing… that soul fishing where you have to hike a little farther to get to the spot.

Ethan easily out-fished me that day down on the spring creek. But I just was so delighted to watch him play in that moment. Fully engaged with the now, and enjoying some time on the river.

And I think that is the best advice I can give to a graduate heading into the real world, 2021 edition. In life it is easy to fall into the mental trap of straining your eyes upstream, looking for what might be coming next… trying to predict what might float downstream.L

ikewise your gaze will wander downstream, dwelling on things that happened in the past, trying to evaluate what you could have done better, or criticizing your mistakes.

When really the most productive thing to do, is to just be where you are that day. Wether you are lucky enough to be on a river, or wherever, be engaged with the day, with the moment.

Because no matter how hard you look upstream, or how long you gaze upon things downstream in your past – you can’t change either of them. Let that shit float downstream, and deal with things that drift your way when they arrive. Be present, and be alive. And of course, go fishing.

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