Fishing on the South Fork in the Snake River just outside of Rigby, Idaho is an experience all should hope to have at least once in their lifetime. It was the end of September and the water already had the definite chill of winter’s approach. It was our first time at fly fishing thanks to our good friend Earl from Pocatello that fortunately had great patience for a couple of rookies.
The first few hours of the day involved much training and much frustration. The challenges involved learning the techniques of the fly rod, managing the cold water, locating where the fish might be in such a vastness of river, and managing your footing on the stony river bed’s bottom. It was hard to stay frustrated for any period of time given the fact that we were in one of the most beautiful places in the Northwest US.
Finally, my bass fishing roots kicked in and I switched the fly rod out for a spinning rod for a while and actually caught a small trout. I unhooked the fish and was holding it as Carl made it a photo moment. We had seen four or five eagles that day and as Carl was taking the picture he noticed one flying toward our direction. Now I’m not spooked easy and have spent a lot time outdoors but until you live out west for a while, you do not realize how large eagles can be.
So here I am standing in the middle of the Snake River holding a trout and an eagle is headed toward me. Now I may be from the South but I ain’t slow. Mighty quick I tossed the trout a few feet away into the river and sure enough the eagle snatched the trout out of the water and away he went. Wow! That’s something you don’t see everyday. I still wonder what if I had not tossed the fish what would have happened. Maybe the eagle would have had a much larger meal.
As the day went along I began to notice more and more the rock and stones of the river bed and how they were smoothed and polished. Many years of constant rapids and turbulent water flow had taken what once were rough and stony edges and had formed them into well-rounded and colorful, marbled beauties.
This is much like our journey in life. The years of experience wear away the superficial aspects of our roughness to form us into whom we are. The rough and often cold currents erode the outer surface but only to reveal through wear and tear our true strengths.
We live and learn and as leaders define our ability to grow others through our experiences. We often talk about failures and unfortunately learning the most often comes when it hurts the most.
Consider how the rivers stones are tossed and turned in the strong currents but ultimately are transformed into more pure shapes. Life, as water, washes over us like a single river’s stone changing everything that has no power on its own.