My family took a two-week vacation to Maui, Hawaii when I was twelve years old. As we drove to the airport on our last day there, I remember thinking that all the snorkeling, body surfing, and relaxing on the beach; all the magnificent sunsets backlighting silhouettes of palm trees; the brilliant, iridescent colors of the tropical fish; it already felt like a dream. Highlights were becoming dimmed and faded. Separate events were blurring together, fading, dying. In that moment, I resolved that in the future, I would get all I could out of my favorite experiences; I could relish them more as I did them, and the memories would continue to glow with vividness long after the event was over.
After the vacation in Hawaii, I focused more on taking in more from every minute of my favorite activities. Whether I am fly fishing, hunting, traveling to new places, or playing mandolin, I pretend like it would be the last time I could ever do it. How could I not try to savor every minute of it, take in every last detail, feel and see and smell everything as I never had done before? Yet sometimes, with travel or other things I rarely get to do, I do not need to pretend – it might really be the last chance I get to do it. That possibility only drives me to savoring the experience more. This summer we went to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, to fly fish, and I was able to enjoy every minute of it. This was especially because it was only the second time I had ever been there. Fishing on the river with a gorgeous sunset gave me a peace and joy that left a deep mark in my soul.
Too soon, however, these rare yet intense emotions become dimmed as they slip farther and farther back in the past. The more I bask in these emotions as they overflow within me, though, the more that memory stays with me. The experiences that I love most are the ones that trigger these emotions, and being out in God’s creation always does that for me. This summer and fall, I have gone on several fishing trips with my family, and I can remember a surprising amount of details from each trip because of my intense emotions at the time.
Looking back on our family vacation to Maui, I wish I could’ve soaked up the beauty and joy of it like a sponge, so I could squeeze it out of me every time I remembered that trip. I loved every minute of it, but I let the memories slip away until they were almost out of my grasp. Now that I’ve held on to the memories of all my traveling and fishing experiences, it seems that everyday life is more bearable, just knowing that I was there once, that there’s more to life than routine. I believe in the power of enjoying the activities I love most, and of the memories of those experiences.
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