We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an irishman, or a yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them. They are sound sleepers, I assure you. And every few years a new lot is laid down and run over; so that, if some have the pleasure of riding on a rail, others have the misfortune to be ridden upon. And when they run over a man that is walking in his sleep, a supernumerary sleeper in the wrong position, and wake him up, they suddenly stop the cars, and make a hue and cry about it, as if this were an exception. I am glad to know that it takes a gang of men for every five miles to keep the sleepers down and level in their beds as it is, for this is a sign that they may sometime get up again.
— Henry David Thoreau

I learned much while in Alaska. But the most significant was the realization of one of the great truths of the universe; that there are, and always will be, unsurpassable and unchangeable laws that govern the universe — and that none are above its influence.

As I hiked along the coast and fished for salmon, these laws became immediately practical in their application where they had gone unnoticed before; though they have been in authority since time began, carrying on in their autonomy, undiscerned by my eye.

The tide, for example, comes in and goes out daily, bringing in new tidings and creatures, all treasures from the deep. It goes out and exposes land — previously undetected which can provide a sure, but transient footing for an able traveler. When navigating the coastline, one is continually made aware of its effects. This phenomenon has been regularly occurring ever since the moon was put into orbit, and will continue as long as the earth remains, regardless of my location, vocation, will, or existence.

Another, even more exciting and noticeable phenomenon is the salmon's perennial journey from the sea, into the mouths of rivers and streams to find a safe hatchery for their young. They are compelled by some innate, unseen force that causes them to leave the place where they have lived for their entire lives, and they journey miles against all manner of torrential currents, and unspeakable peril to accomplish the task of continuing their ancient race. And then, once their task is done, they perish. They sacrifice their lives for the sake of the next generation, and not one defies this natural law, not one breaks rank or asks "Why?" — They are none the wiser.

We are taught by great actions that the universe is the property of everyone in it. Every rational creature has all the nature for his dowry and estate. It is his, if he will. He may divest himself of it; he may creep into a corner, and abdicate his kingdom, as most men do, but he is entitled to the world by his constitution. in proportion to the energy of his thought and will, he takes up the world into himself.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

How many generations of men have done what their fathers have done, who did what their fathers had done, in order that their children might live a better life, only for them to chase the same false dream? How many, I fear, have put to death their dreams of going against convention, or sacrificed their future, thinking it would provide their children with the future they themselves once thought attainable. And yet in doing so, they teach the next generation to ignore their instincts, give up on their dreams of becoming an astronaut or a pioneer, and do the responsible thing so that one day their children might live. Oh, what a suicidal cycle we breed! Our society puts to death every trace of life in our blood and tells us lies to placate us into slumber so that there can be none who break rank and go against convention.

How can we continue to follow the pattern of so many before us who have given up on their dreams to do the safe and comfortable thing, to lead lives free of danger or risk in quiet desperation? We over-insure our homes, belongings and lives, but we never do anything that might jeopardize that secure future at the expense of the taste of true life. 

If we never come close to losing our life, are we ever truly living? It is in those moments where we taste death that we truly cherish this thing called life.

I have traveled only a small portion of this terrestrial sphere, but I have seen much land unoccupied in it. Millions of acres untouched by human hand, or the sole of any shoe. And yet, I have seen thousands upon thousands of men crammed into smaller boroughs than what could comfortably roam a field mouse.

Not only does man seek to embed himself into such a small area, he strives day and night, almost to the breaking point, for such a quarter — and yet he still does not own his land, nor does he have a blade of grass for which he is not indebted to another. Each man mortgages the best hours of the morning to a superior man, so that he might one day reach the same level of prestige as the one who reigns over him. And yet, even that man is ruled by a still higher authority, and finds himself and his better hours equally as indebted, if not more so. Each man striving harder and finding himself worse off than before. Every notch in the society ladder is a setback in comparison of wealth. Once you have attained what you previously strived for, it is nothing to you, and you find yourself again at the bottom. And yet I have known the ease with which a man can make a simple living for himself. It is on no more than two fair sized fish a day that a man can sustain his holy fire. And a roof with walls no greater than ten feet apart is more than enough shelter if utilized correctly. Once these two basic necessities are acquired, along with a healthy pair of clothes, what more does a man need in this world?

To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.
— John Muir

He may then successfully acquire his share of the world, and those forfeited by men less inclined. He may suck the marrow out of life, and gather the world into himself through spacial means, as well as intellectual means, for to gather the intellectual properties of the world is far more precious. And within this simplified lifestyle, he has much time to do so.

The modern man must throw off the fat and chaff of his existence, and truly find what it is to survive in this world. I believe that in doing so, he will find what it means to truly live.

Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing