“A River Runs Through It” is a common stereotypical motivator for men wanting to return to the place they only knew they loved after reading the novella or watching the Robert Redford film.
The story of two brothers raised along the trout rivers of Montana, at the turn of the century; the tale presents two intellectuals… two artists with two decisions. Both writers, thanks to their minister father’s love of the written word; the older brother, Norman, leaves the land he loves to pursue his craft in far away cities and colleges of academia. During the remainder of his long life spent primarily in the Midwest, he only has time to return north for brief holidays and summer breaks. The other younger brother, Paul, remains in Montana, finding a way to utilize his intelligence to eke out a living as a reporter, in order to support his fishing, drinking and gambling addictions. Dying young, Paul is the epitome of the tragic artist, living only briefly (but in the place he loved), compared to Norman’s long life of respectability, outside the world of Montana and the American west.
My question is this: Which brother was right? When I think of the manner in which I left my northern home to search for success in the Southwest, I think of this story. Specifically, I’m reminded of that famous fortuitous line uttered by the character of Paul when Norman asks him to venture east, to Chicago, in order to work and live by his brother’s side – “Oh, I’ll never leave Montana, brother”.
Does making art depend on metropolitan dreams of promotion and success?
So given two choices, in this time of travel and rapid region jumping across the nation, I occasionally stop and wonder – would any of us if we found the perfect spot early on in life, but chose to leave for dreams of greener pastures… would we return to that place? Would we really go back? Would I really go back to relive an old life? If we leave and return is it ever the same? – DN