Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Thrilling Moment

Every moment of life, I suppose, is more or less of a turning-point.  Opportunities are swarming around us all the time, thicker than gnats at sundown.  We walk through a cloud of chances, and if we were always conscious of them they would worry us almost ot death.

But happily our sense of uncertainty is soothed and cushioned by habit, so that we can live comfortably with it.  Only now and then, by way of special excitement, it starts up wide awake.  We perceive how delicately our fortune is poised and balanced on the pivot of a single incident.  We get a peep at the oscillating needle, and, because we have happened to see it tremble, we call our experience a crisis.

The meditative angler is not exempt from these sensational periods.  There are times when all the uncertainty of his chosen pursuit seems to condense itself into one big chance, and stand out before him like a salmon on the top wave of a rapid.  He sees that his luck hangs by a single strand, and he cannot tell whether it will hold or break.  This is his thrilling moment, and he never forgets it.

-  Henry Van Dyke, in Fisherman's Luck, 1899

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