YVON CHOUINARD: Reaching the Top by Doing the Right Thing


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Failing to tough out my own problems, I hand him my fishing line, which I now have tangled into the shape of a bird's nest, a condor's. He begins to work at it with saintly patience, then to my great relief, shows normal human frustration by letting out an expletive that has to do with maternity and copulation.

I tell him, "I was beginning to worry about you--too serene."

"Nah," he laughs, "I'm just another dirtbag. But a rich dirtbag."

At day's end, I watch him walk to the river and begin casting with so deft a motion it seems he is drawing currents in the air. His back is to me; I study the latticework creases in his neck. After a few casts, he hooks a female cutthroat that shimmers gold and silver as it resists and bends his rod into a bow, like the Zen archer's. When he pulls in the fish, it wriggles under the arc of the bow before he moves it toward his hand. The trout looks up at him in desperate wonder. He reaches for its mouth and sets it free.

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