Montana 2023

“You’re about to burn out and should do some self-care.”

That’s what my life coach, Fr. Bill Brown, told me last December. It was all self-inflicted but having two jobs was taking a toll.

I have not taken extended time off since 1995, and so, I decided to take a one-month sabbatical in Montana to fish. Thankfully, Mrs. T. gave her ok, and email let me meet all of my work obligations.

But, for 28 days I didn’t have a work call or Zoom, and it was refreshing.

Each time I go to Montana, I feel changed. The surroundings are so beautiful, and the mountains and expansive valleys make you feel so small. And, those sunsets….

The river trout are all wild. They fight like demons and can be hard to dupe.

One of my fishing buddies, Jamie, joined me for the last week. I’m a decent angler, but he is the best dry-fly angler I know. He and I get along very well.

The fishing was lights-out for us. We saw many fish and many big fish.

Little did we know that by being friendly and polite to the locals, we’d befriend many of them. One kind lady even gave us some beer.

Before Jamie arrived, I was alone for three weeks and explored a lot of new water. Thankfully, the long drives in Montana are beautiful.

I chose my own adventure each day, but there was a rhythm to my time. In the mornings, I did some personal reading using this book that Fr. Bill recommended. He suggested that I use the month as a spiritual retreat.

He also recommended that I write in a journal each day and that I should shred the pages once I was done. He thought this would be a good way to reflect and to make sure I wrote honestly. He was right.

Then, I would fish pretty much all day. Lunch was a PB&J sandwich at a river. To save money and because I had the time, I’d cook a simple dinner at home. Then, I’d tie flies for the next day, take a shower, and go to bed.

With all of the daily adrenaline and dopamine, I wasn’t very hungry. And, with all of the wading and hiking, I dropped weight. There’s a lot to be said for being outside in nature.

It will take time for me to process all that happened. But, my heart is full and my mind feels well-rested. I am excited for the upcoming semester at HBS.

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