All about Handling a New Year

2017? Wow, how does that happen? I’ve been talking with homeys and am intrigued by their responses to the thought of another “new year.” They’ve ranged from “Big (censored) deal… It’s just another year of same old same old, Jimbo…” to “Cool, huh? I can’t wait to get my hands on that fresh start, and away from the messes of 2016!”

New Year’s Resolutions? Some do and some don’t.

So, what will it be for you? What resolutions might you make this year that will last past January? Will you start socking away money for that out-of-state or out-of-country hunting or fishing trip? Will you drive or fly? What licenses will you need, and what resolution will get them for you? Will you get the family (or yourself) out more often to see wildlife and breathe the fresh air of Paradise? Spend a little more time helping a friend? Plan special events for kids? Work to get our Washington Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights through the Legislature?

I have buddies who swear by their New Year resolutions – and even manage to bring some into reality. Still, the whole “resolution” thing just isn’t my gig.

You may recall my comment that I stopped making such resolutions in late January 1981, after The Old Man went home. On the way to his funeral, it dawned on me that I’d already failed to keep most of my resolutions – and one of them had been a vow to keep at least one resolution.

As I sat, waiting to give his eulogy, I remember weighing the genuine pleasure of getting complete with things in my life. After my father died, I had a deep emptiness inside. At the same time, I felt complete with him; there just was nothing I had left unsaid or unheard. The summer before his passing, we spent a week talking about anything and everything either of us ever wanted to know about the other. By the time I left his funeral, I was pretty sure that “completions” were more important for me than “resolutions.”

In the decades since, I spend the waning months of each year freeing up my mind and heart for the coming one. Zeb, my mountain‑man mentor, once said, “If you’re loaded down with yesterday’s baggage, you don’t stand much chance of getting today’s gifts – or accepting ’em with a whole heart.” I don’t know that I really understood, but I got the part about clearing up unfinished business before the new stuff shows up.

I probably start asking myself a regular set questions about the time deer season wraps up. I have questions like these: “Who did something this year that changed my life (preferably for the better) or changed the way I did something or managed some old habit?” “Who got me out fishing or hunting or hiking outdoors when I really needed it?” “Who smoothed out an impossible day with a kind word or a pat on the back just when I needed it?” “Who showed me a new fishing hole, or some new technique for fishing one of my old ones?” There are others, too, of course. New questions seem to pop up every day, as I try to spend an old, used, year-end freeing up the shiny start for the New Year. You likely have questions of your own.

Admittedly, it is sometimes almost impossible to clean up lost and failed agreements, no matter how good my intentions might be. I often end up with a couple leftover hang-nail agreements. Still, I get a deeper satisfaction from working on completions than I ever did trying to manage resolutions – some of which seemed like great ideas in the company of good friends and a malt beverage over ice.

Over the last weeks of 2016, I have scheduled some very cool activities. Cousin Ron and I have a day set to drown worms in a remote little creek we fished when we were boys – one of the few streams untouched by changed regulations over nearly seven decades. I need the long conversation (missed last summer) with geographer and mentor Richard Stevens (retired from the University of Colorado), and we will sit down next week. I finally pulled together the draft of a book we’ve been working on for a couple years, and Reecer Creek Publishing is beginning to mean something.

All that as it may, we stand at the threshold of a new and potentially momentous year. What will it be this time? Which actions will we take to make this 2017 one for the books – one to shape our lives as we would have them shaped? High in my mind at this time is a recurring question about how my fishing or hunting or outdoor interests (and what I might do with them) will make the world a better place for those coming up behind me.

So, how does your 2017 shape up? How will your love of nature help ensure forever outdoor connections for the people of Paradise?

Like fresh snow awaiting our tracks, this year lies undisturbed before us.

Happy 2017.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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