I read with great interest Brad Feld’s post today on his personal reactions to Robin Williams’ death. As you know, Brad and his team at Foundry are super-successful VCs. And, Brad lives a very transparent and authentic life, sharing through his blog his conundrums, problems, joys and victories. It is direct, raw and super-interesting prose that I think helps many people.
I’m writing this because I really admire Brad for writing about the sadness he feels today and the emotions that Robin Williams’ suicide has invoked within him. I’ve written in the past that “pain = suffering x resistance.” Suffering becomes painful if you deny its existence, hide it with drugs/alcohol/etc., or run away. You’re much better off acknowledging whatever suffering exists. You accept, and thereby, live in that moment.
In the past, I did a very good job of absorbing myself in work. I’ve written in the past that everyone has a drug of choice. Work was, and sometimes is, still mine. I used work frankly to escape the parts of my life that I didn’t like. And, that’s why work after a while became extreme drudgery for many years.
Now that I’m more aware of this, I really enjoy work. I still work long hours, but I’m enjoying the journey of it all. I’m trying to enjoy the moment, the right now, rather than always planning for tomorrow (cf. Matthew 6:34).
This weekend, I went fly fishing at an awesome fishing lodge (a video is up top or click here). I serendipitously met a wise soul, who has visited there for many decades and strives to live in the moment. I call him The Trout Whisperer. A casual hello at breakfast led to a very intense two-hour conversation about fly fishing tips, during which we swapped our respective “top secret” strategies, the writings of Hemingway, and the allure of being in a river.
Regarding fly fishing, he described the long drives to the lodge and the moments in the river as something very restorative, meditative and spiritual. He said that when he started to fly fish, his goal was to catch a single fish (fly fishing has a very long learning curve). Then, it was to catch as many fish as possible. Then, his goal became to catch many monster trout. He has accomplished all that.
Now, he is pushing the age of 70, and his goals are different. He just wants to “enjoy the moment.” When he gets to the river, he delays his fishing. He instead sits on the bank and quietly observes the surroundings for 30 to 40 minutes. He soaks in the scene. He sees what the trout are doing. Then, he fishes. In a short period of time, he lands a lot of really big fish. The Trout Whisperer fishes with intent and with calmness. He calls it “the Zen of fly fishing.”
So, live in the moment. The current moment may be happy or tragic, interesting or banal. But, accept it and immerse yourself in it. Amazingly, you’ll find a lot of meaning unfold in those moments. When you’re not so busy resisting the moment, you’ll pick up on a lot more.