Saturday, October 15, 2011

I met Jim Harrison on the way to Jackson Hole...

OK, so I didn't really meet him, but I did read about him in this well written article in Outside Magazine that I picked up on my layover in Denver on my way to Jackson Hole a couple weeks ago. The piece was penned by a younger acquaintance of Mr. Harrison's named Tom Bissell and it started like this...

After 34 books, endless Hemingway comparisons, and too many battles with gout, legendary author Jim Harrison is unsurpassed at chronicling man's relationship with wilderness. His secret? Ample wine, cigarettes, fly-fishing—and an inability to give a damn about what anyone else thinks. Our author takes a literary pilgrimage to Montana.
I enjoyed reading this whole piece and would suggest it to any of my friends who can slow down for a little wisdom and insightful thoughts on life, such as...Nature is slow, Harrison told me. “That’s how I saw so much—because I was out there all the time. When it’s slow you don’t, of course, always see something. You just see what’s there that day, and sometimes it’s quite extraordinary.”And this line is slightly out of context, but I did enjoy reading Harrison's quote that “Most writers know only four birds—hawk, gull, crow, robin.”...earlier, the writer, Tom Bissel confessed he had already confused a crow with a raven in Harrison’s presence.

Over Harrison's career, he had been ­offered several ­“really cushy jobs” by various ­creative- writing departments that would have paid him some serious loot, but he always said no... “I turned one down for $75,000 in a year that we made $9,000.” When I asked how he had been able to do that, Harrison told me what he told them: “‘Somebody’s got to stay outside,’ ” he said. “And I still think that’s true. Somebody’s got to stay outside.”

And I'll part with these very wise words from Harrison. After confronting a friend on a sensitive topic with a very blunt and honest reaction to a story his friend told him, Mr. Harrison didn't mince words by proclaiming to the author, "Sometimes politeness was just a way to ­escape what needed to be said." Something I employ ever too infrequently, but I'll be taking this to heart a little more regularly.

And in honor of the inspiring wisdom of Mr. Harrison and the very colorful translations by Mr. Bissell, I am from this point forward, declaring my "vow of obedience to awareness." Thank you.

And here's a view of the spring fed creek behind Noah & Ned's Mountain Khakis design studio in Wilson, Wyoming. If you crop in close to the center of the image, you'll see every single color in the rainbow. Maybe that's the iPhone app I used or the blurry eyes I was observing with after my trip to Ned's secret roof perch.

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