Philosophy of the sporting life: A meditation on why.
There was a summer I spent as a wild child in the mountains of Iowa.
There are no mountains in Iowa, you say? Tell that to my younger self.
That summer my father made the crude outline of a teepee with leftover 2×4’s situated just perfectly to scan the neighboring hillsides for imaginary buffalo. After reading too much “Little House on the Prairie,” I spent the better part of a week thatching the sides with long grasses I uprooted from the pasture. When the horse tried to eat my very flammable settlement, I chased him like a warring tribe – whooping and waving.
I was nomadic that summer, part of the land instead of a visitor to it – a hunter gatherer – strong, tanned, wild.
Then I grew up. I forgot that feeling.
It was not until my mid 20s, when I came to the west – to my own mountains, to my own rivers, to my own herds of elk and deer – that I remembered that summer.
And I was wild again.
As sportsmen in an increasingly non-sporting world, we are pressured to come up with reasons why. We seek to justify our actions to a the world – we hunt for food, for heritage. We fish for camraderie, for solitude.
But at it’s core, are we not also looking for the connection we felt as children? To be part of something so broad and vast, something we may not necessarily understand yet find so innately familiar? At the heart of it, isn’t our goal to lessen the gap between reality and instinct, to exist simply and simply exist?
There is a poem written by Lisa Mueller – “Monet refuses the operation”:
“Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.”
Such is the sporting life.
For some, the line between civilization and the outdoor world needs only be blurred by a bit of camo. It need only be plumbed by a bit of feather and a hefty sink tip.
For us, that connection makes us part of the system again– the place we have never and yet always known we belong. The horizon blurs and we find our peace, our wild, our happy.- Shauna Sherard is the Communications Director at Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. She is also a freelance writer based out of Wheatland, Wyoming.