Paintings by Matt with ink on watercolor paper.
My whole life was pointed towards this.
A childhood obsession with freshwater apex predators. A river system so large, it could hold anything.
I’d been raised on Animal Planet and promises to my grandfather that I would take a boat up the Amazon River. And through some combination of luck, privilege and the beneficence of the gods of flowing water, I was afforded the opportunity to spend a week chasing peacock bass on the Rio Marie in the remotest northeast corner of Brazil. It was the greatest fishing experience of my life.
Painting helps me think. But I struggle to write about the experience.
Even before the pandemic, I was already drawing my circle of attention smaller and smaller.
The Amazon is too big and too far away to know.
I don’t think our brains are designed to comprehend this vastness. I fell through the sky until I landed in a place where giant river otters, dolphins and blue macaws ruled the landscape.
I couldn’t get my head around the Amazon in a lifetime.
But I had chosen this. The trip cost more than the minivan I drive. I had put everything I had, focused all of my resources and physical abilities into catching really big peacock bass. I had chosen to bring this experience into my life, and I didn’t understand why.
I wrote about a similar experience a while back, an essay about my father hunting grizzly bears in Alaska. I remember asking him, over and over again, why. What was the purpose of this? He didn’t seem to know. Years later, I’m asking myself similar questions and my answers do not satisfy me.
Is it the vanity of catching really big fish in an exotic location? Yes.
Is it about the size and beauty and aggression of the animals pursued? Probably.
Was it the opportunity to fish with family and friends? So much yes.
But again, the answers don’t seem to add up to a satisfying response. Hope you enjoy the paintings. Chris wrote an amazing writeup of the trip, so definitely go there for a more effective description! It took me a decade to make meaning of my dad’s dream to hunt grizzly bears. I expect this will take less time, but when I figure it out, I will let you know.