She takes a sip from her BPA free plastic water bottle, puts on some lip moisturizer, takes an Orbit chewing gum and opens an intensely used paperback somewhere in the middle. It reads The Art of Happiness. I momentarily envy her for having found that title and the state her paperback is in. I imagine picking up the story in that ragged paperback feels like lowering my buttocks down in the seat of an old but well kept leather Chesterfield chair, comfortably leaning back, sucking in peace of mind. I glance at her from my window seat 21D over to her window seat 21A which is across the aisle in the small Polish Airways aircraft that brings us from Lubljana in Slovenia via Warsaw in Poland to Amsterdam. I sit next to the love of my life after we drove around Central Europe during two weeks. The trip has been wonderful. We are very happy.
The woman’s gestures make me pick a Stimerol and put Labello on my lips before I realize it and become consciously aware of the fact that I do not really need to make these additions to my state of well being. I do not need to read about the Art of Happiness nor apply lip moisturizer. I do not care for to chew gum nor hydrate myself with purified water. I am so lucky to be happy. I am so lucky I feel blessed. And although I am curious to know what is said about The Art of Happiness, I don’t want to read about how to be happy. The woman knows about how to add fragments to her state of well being by hydrating her body with water, refreshing the taste in her mouth with chewing gum and moisturizing her lips. Don’t we all search for to feel good? Security covered, achievements fulfilled and individualism outspoken. Now what is left to be conquered is happiness.
Miro is showing casting maneuvers. He has got something special to teach. Not to teach really. It’s more about transference and sharing. Technique easily slides into habit and patterns after many years of fishing. Miro seems to review style and skill of the fisherman who joins him for the day. In fact every new location a fisherman goes needs a reset or even an adaption of technique. It’s refreshing to go over the basics. The Soca river in Slovenia is not like any other river. Actually no river is like any other river. Rivers flow. It’s waters finding the way of least resistance. Exemplary for us, our lives. Slowly to slowly learning to flow like water. Practicing as the Japanese call it, Wu Wei.
The more rivers one wades the more skilled one becomes. Or not? Is one more skilled having fished rivers in Japan, New Zealand, Tasmania, the Pyrenees, Montana and Alaska? Yes and no. Yes because one learns how important it is to constantly adapt techniques. No because the knowledge how to adapt them doesn’t rise like the sun does. It comes with learning, sharing and transference. Today is a fishing primeur in the Alps. The fishing guide Miro is a Slovenian fly fishing champion who posseses a wealth of Alpine fishing secrets. The acquaintance momentarily feels like the beginning of a new fly fishing chapter. Like so many other chapters passed by and to follow.
Your enthusiasm is beautiful. You could be a teenager. Like your sons are. At the same time Miro looks like he could be your father. He tells us he doesn’t have children ‘yet’. He is fifty five. His character reminds me of you; soft and articulate, hiding strength and boltness.
The two of you are fishing the Soca River. There’s dogs and children playing around and never before I saw torrents as light and bright turquoise as here. The sun happily casting it’s bright silver shine. Sun rays seem to chemically crystalize completely translucent clear water. Girls on holiday are walking down stream with inflatable swimming toys. I don’t think we’ll be here at this seriously trodden section of the river much longer. But that depends on Miro. If he’ll let you pass and move on to deep down Slovenian fly fishing. He’s initiating you into some of it’s rites called European nymphing. It involves fluorescent paint on the fishing line as an indicator where the nymph is dropped in the water, rather then having a marker floating on the surface of the water with the nymph dangling underneath at the end of the fishing line. The last one being the default method at places outside this peculiar continent.
Why are you so kind? You make a small waving movement with your hand, looking at me. Maybe to make sure I am okay. Maybe to share your joy with me. I don’t know. I get tears in my eyes. You impact me deeper then anyone or anything else. I look at you while you let the rod slowly hoover over the river upstream to downstream. You’re fishing with a dry fly now. It’s quickly gliding over the surface of the strong mountain current. You are happy. And so am I.
We end up spending the whole morning at the heavily trodden spot in the Soca river where the fish are too lazy to bite and the water is too bright to resist. This nice and warm Slovenian summer’s day in August the world is too glorious to conquer.
After lunch at another beautiful spot where it’s very quiet you catch the first rainbow trout of the day, alive and kicking both the trout and you. It’s catch and release. I remember your words, you liking the catch more then the chase. You say it about girls when I think I need the playing hard to get game better. Three more rainbow trouts follow before it starts raining from heaven heavily. A good omen as usual. At the first cast in a river steaming from damp heath on this nice and warm Slovenian summer’s day you catch a Marble Trout, the special indigenous species you’d come all the way to the Soca river for. The purpose and destination of this Slovenian trip. Which at the same time we call our honeymoon. The Slovenian’s fishing champion Miro and four hours of his Alpine fishing technique teachings is what it takes to catch the Marble trout. The whole experience is overwhelming and deeply satisfying.
The multiple lanes leading to and beyond Departures 1, 2, 3 and 4 at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport are clogged with cars driving very slowly searching for a spot to pull over in order to deposit passengers to the different departure halls. Quick or lengthy farewells are showcased by a hug, a kiss, a firm hand shake or a proud wave. It’s an early Saturday morning in August. Today holiday people rent their holiday house until the next Saturday. I had not thought of traffic this busy on a weekend day in summer. We should have left the house earlier, I tell myself and once more when we get to Polish Airlines check-in counters seeing a long line of people, waiting, not moving. At the economy counter there’s no staff. Only at the business class counter people are being attended to. We wait, try to get feed back as to why the economy class counter is uninhabited and wait some more. After quite a bit it’s our turn. We’d already checked in online and have been waiting only to drop off our suitcase. For which we are being asked if we paid the supplement. Apparently this is not noted. The ground stewardess of the now open economy class counter looks a bit confused but she kindly prints out our boarding passes upon asking her to do so. Fortunately we pass Schiphol security quickly. To discover some fifteen minutes after check-in that the departure gate mentioned at our boarding passes doesn’t correspond with the information advertised on the digital departures boards. We find our way to the correct gate. Also here people are waiting. Boarding hasn’t begon. When we eventually get in the Polish aircraft we wait even longer, at least an hour. Finally permission to take off follows and one and a half hours after the scheduled departure time we are on our way to Warsaw. It means that upon our arrival we will not have a minute to loose for our transit at Warsaw Airport, going to Ljubljana, Slovenia. But the LOT stewardesses are pretty, fuzzy and informal and our two weeks trip through Central Europe has started. The trip I dreamingly label as a fairy tale come true. Recounting of love, transition and inner truth.
The Warsaw connection is successful and five hours afterwards we land at Ljubljana airport. Our suitcase takes a day longer to make it there. Leaving us to make our way into town feeling as light hearted as we like to travel light. That first evening we melt together in a soft Slovenian bed hidden behind an upmarket and neatly renovated historic centre street of a quaint little semi Alpine town.