Happiness: a state of mind, or river of fish

Are you happy.
It’s a loaded question when asked, an accusatory statement when heard. Bill Bob asks his brother Gus the question part way through one of my favorite books, “The River Why.” Gus leased a cabin on a coastal river in Oregon and developed the Ideal Schedule in which he fishes 16 hours a day. He weeded out all nonessentials and isolated himself from distraction. It sounds like what my friends in California think I do every summer, or what the general population of the Lower 48 thinks all Alaskans do for that matter. Except when we’re watching our cousins on reality TV shows of course.
There have been times I have been pretty close to my own ideal schedule. When I kept a fishing log, during one of my summers I marked a stretch in which I fished 45 of 47 days. This of course is not a big deal if I was a guide, but I was fishing recreationally. I was out there for no other reason but that I wanted to fish, could fish, so I did fish.
It should be easy for Gus to answer. He loves to fish, he has removed everything but fishing from his life, so it’s simple. Right? It seems like the perfect situation and at some point every angler has probably wanted a season on the stream like Gus. We probably know that whatever ailed us before we went to the woods on a little Thoreauian retreat will be waiting when we return, but the whole point of the escape is to not think about that possibility.

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