I recently returned from a brief weekend fishing trip to the Nestucca River on the Oregon Coast. I was in search of some beautiful chrome summer steelhead. The fish (sea-going rainbow trout that live a similar life cycle of salmon) are beautiful. There is something about steelhead that is mystical and somewhat elusive. They hatch in freshwater streams, live in freshwater for a year or two, and then migrate to the ocean. They essentially disappear when they go to the ocean. Some venture north to Alaska in the Bering Sea and some might stick around the Pacific. Who knows. Then, after one to several years, these fish return to their home waters to spawn. I especially enjoy fishing for steelhead in rivers where you can see to the river bottom. If there is a fish in the pool, I typically can’t see them. After staring into a pool for some time, I might spot a gray “ghost.” They blend right in to their surroundings. If and when I hook and land a steelhead, I marvel at the lifespan of the creature. From all the fish that originally hatch from the mother, only about 1-2% of those eggs will actually complete the life cycle (e.g., go to the ocean then return to the river to spawn). It’s incredible. I feel so lucky to have interacted with the fish I find it difficult to keep one. So, I rarely do. Well, I fished an evening and a morning, and I didn’t have the chance to contemplate whether to keep or let go the silver-sided steelhead. I got skunked. But, I had a great time reconnecting with nature and reconnecting with my self throughout the process.
After fishing one night, I had the opportunity to find a camp site at 10pm on the upper Nestucca River. Pitch black. I had never camped up there, but I knew there were a few spots. I arrived to the first campsite and the place was full. So, I trekked up the road further. Sure enough, I found another camp and several car sites were still available. I hadn’t brought any firewood and I had intended to set up my tent, tie up some fishing rigs for the next day, and hit the sack. Well, it was pretty dark and my headlamp was dying down a bit so I figured I may have to rely on my car’s headlights. I needed a piece of wood for one of my tasks so I jaunted over to a vacant neighboring campsite. I noticed in the site’s fire pit a few remaining embers from what must have been left over from the previous night. And, the thought hit me: why don’t I take these coals and try to get some wood lit at my camp site? It took several trips, but I managed to bring several of the coals over to my site’s fire pit. Then, I began to forage for some firewood. I found some large logs and a few smaller pieces of kindling. In a matter of 30 minutes I had a full-fledged fire! Enough light to set up my tent, keep warm, and tie up my fishing rigs.
Maybe you had to be there, but I found this to be an incredible experience. To find some coals and to create a booming fire from them was pretty special. It reminds me of working with my clients, and in particular children and adolescents. I find that sometimes parents and guardians have had it with their youth. Counseling is sometimes viewed as the last resort because the ‘fire’ within their youth seems to have extinguished. It’s my belief that the coals are still lit, but you have to search for them. The coals represent your child or adolescent’s strengths. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the not-so-pleasant aspects of our kids (a.k.a. weaknesses), we lose sight of the things our youth feel best about. I see it as my job to help you and your youth regain sight of those strengths and to find creative ways to ignite a larger flame, infiltrating all aspects of wellness.
This process isn’t easy. Change never is. But, the idea of nature cuts through the core, and I believe my unique approach to helping can get you and/or your youth there faster. The embers are there, waiting to be fueled. Take the risk, whether it be with me or another practitioner, to get that fire booming once again in your loved one’s life!
p.s., It was cool I found those embers. But, it’s also a reminder of how important it is to dispatch your campfire when you are done with it! Help prevent fires so our community can enjoy the forest for millennia to come!