Sometimes miracles happen, especially when you give them a nudge.
Way back in November, 2010, I met a couple of boys on bikes, who at first unnerved me, under a bridge in a part of Los Angeles, forgotten and unloved. A part of Los Angeles that could be dangerous, definitely was dirty and made me wonder why. I wrote this:
I met Mario and his friend as they rode their bikes under the Hyperion Bridge. When he called to me, at first I felt unnerved. Then, looking around, I felt foolish to think that this bright-faced boy might be up to no good.
“Fly fishing?” he asked with a knowing smile.
“Got a good spot?” I answered in return.
And off we went, two kids who might have been Tom and Huck from earlier days, and an older gentleman, two on bikes, one on sneakers, plying the waters of the Glendale Narrows.
That very day, I vowed to myself, angry and standing under dozens of plastic bags hanging from a tree, that I would find a way to add something positive to the lives of the young people of Los Angeles, and, at least in part, that’s why I’ve continue to pen this blog for so many years.
Highlights of helping to get youngsters off their screens and into green urban environs include, three years with Friends of The LA River’s “Off Da Hook” fishing derby; helping out with FoLAR’s river fish studies, and years now of Trout Unlimited’s annual fishing workshops.
There simply is nothing like giving back to our city’s youth. Nothing like being a volunteer. Nothing quite like watching as a young person catches their first fish out of the LA, then helping them to throw it back.
So, hats off and hearts out to all those who volunteer their precious time to a worthy cause. We live in a time of tremendous cynicism and mistrust, a time of soul-gripping fear, a time when our young people are more susceptible to fear and depression that in years past.
I don’t claim to have any solutions other than to lean into whatever faith you practice and to practice the easy compassion that comes naturally from the human spirit. Especially on this day when we honor those who have selflessly served us, think about giving some time to our youngsters. If you kayak, teach a kid to kayak as well; if you birdwatch, take them along to see some new species and marvel at the beauty right here in our ruined river; if you bike, you know where I’m going with the argument. As we age, we realize it’s an imperative to help others and to give whatever we can. Start today. With your help, it only gets better — not worse — from here.
See you on the river, Jim Burns