Affairs of the Heart

My friend Duane Bolin is a literary man; a scholar; man of letters; and a family man. He has no visible vices aside from his love of, and over indulgence in, good food; a failing shared by many, myself included. Why he occasionally hangs out with me is anyone’s guess. But he does and I’m glad.

We’ve fished together a couple of times. Duane is a guy who likes the idea of fishing a little more than the actually act of stringing a rod and wetting a fly. I would guess that he is not alone in this. His idea of fishing hinges around images drawn from Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories and Norman Maclean’s forays on the Big Black Foot River. Duane lives in the land of bass and bluegill but he is a man emotionally attached to bamboo and trout. I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a character flaw.

Duane will not be fishing for a while. A couple of weeks ago he decided to take an afternoon jog. He was once a dedicated runner and ran daily for several years, regardless of weather or location, but in recent years had laid aside his running routine.

His afternoon jog ended in the ER of the local hospital. A battery of tests lead to another short ambulance ride, this time to a regional heart care center. About a week later he went home with a new aortic heart valve, manufactured, unbelievably, from tissue from a cow heart.

A full recovery is expected and for this I, his wealth of other friends, and his family are thankful.

Of course, I have viewed all this from the outside looking in but my friend’s ailment has caused me to experience some mild self-centered distress. Duane and I are the same age. We are both gainfully employed. We both worry more than we should. We each have two beautiful and well-adjusted children.  We are each married to wonderful women. And we are acutely aware of how one’s tidy little world can be turned upside down by something as harmless as a jog about the block.

Duane will probably make a few adjustments (worry less, relax more; eat less; exercise more) and return to the classroom (he’s a teacher) and his well-ordered life.

I think I’ll string up a bamboo rod and go fishing.