Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire 
The author isn’t a big fan of atmospheric rivers, but the forest variety are very much appreciated.

Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire The author isn’t a big fan of atmospheric rivers, but the forest variety are very much appreciated.

I Went to the Woods: Tireless thankfulness

One should never tire of writing columns about gratitude. I hope I never do.

One should never tire of writing columns about gratitude.

I hope I never do.

But gratitude isn’t easy to express. How do you put a mom into words? Precious good memories of a dad? Brother? What about a wife that wants to hunt and fish as much as you do? Articulating the meaning of people in our lives can be a clumsy exercise at best.

There are those who feel that the expression of gratitude is to ignore the realities of tragedy, injustice, the past, the future. But hot takes are nothing new. Neither is genuine misunderstanding or ignoring intent to manipulate meaning.

If anything, understanding the way things are should inspire at least a few reasons to put a hold on adding negativity to an already broken world. How can I expect to have meaningful relationships if my best skills are take-downs, shout-downs or dismissing opinions that are not my own?

While I do try to maintain a high level of daily gratitude, I am also thankful for complementary activities. Activities that provide stress, but also constructive outlets. I’m thankful I grew up fishing, then found fly fishing in my 20s. I’m thankful I found hunting and have been able to write about both, but I’m also thankful for the still-developing skill of keeping some thoughts to myself. I am not an advocate for self-censoring, but expression should go hand-in-hand with discernment. No one is waiting for me to weigh in on the 6.5 Creedmoor. No one refreshes the Blacktail Hunting Forum waiting to read my comment about shot placement, the fact I know the location of the kill or any other way I might feel tempted to rub my antlers online.

“I just tell it like it is,” is often an excuse to be mean. Feedback can be instructive but being an overzealous jerk to show off to an audience is gross.

I am, however, thankful for social media and the opportunity to connect with so many exceptional people in the outdoor realm. Not exceptional hunters, anglers or entrepreneurs, exceptional people. Sure, social media is tracking us, being used to divide and manipulate us, but it doesn’t have to. It can be a tool, an instrument of good, an opportunity to share in the electricity of successful meat acquisition, ideas or insight.

Along that same thread, I am thankful for the absolute embarrassment of quality options when it comes to gear, and content, for hunting, fishing and general outdoors – a lot of which is on sale, or will be on sale.

Modern efficiencies have made the contemporary practice of hunting and fishing only vaguely similar to traditional methods, but I do know of numerous people on Prince of Wales who fish traditional halibut hooks. This is both a testament to the genius of historical Indigenous populations and a valuable cultural decision to pay homage to heritage by passing on modern technology.

But if you do buy a GoPro on Black Friday to drop with the downrigger ball to get an idea of how many kings pass on your special herring-scented bait trailing behind your purple haze UV flasher, then by all means, go for it.

Even as we settle into the dark, grey misery of winter, it’s not cliché or toxically positive to find gratitude in living here. I’m thankful my family moved to Klawock when I was five and am thankful I call Southeast Alaska home.

Though I will certainly tire of the grey and of the rain, being a full-time Southeast Alaskan is a lifestyle that takes work, but is certainly worth it.

• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer based in Ketchikan. His book, “A Miserable Paradise: Life in Southeast Alaska,” is available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. “I Went to the Woods” appears twice per month in the Sports & Outdoors section of the Juneau Empire.

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