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Making This Left Feel Right

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Posted by 1campfire | Dec 29, 2021 | Stories

There are few things in life I enjoy as much as going for a drive in the backcountry, sipping a strong cup of coffee and listening to a kick-ass playlist. Toss a rifle, a pack, and a bear tag in the cab and you have the ingredients for my version of the perfect day.

In 2003 Bon Jovi released the Album “This Left Feels Right” a collection of largely ‘unplugged’ versions of some of their biggest hits. Critics and fans alike were surprised, disappointed, ambivalent, and even confused by their decision to re-interpret these cherished musical properties. They were perfect as they were? Why would you mess with perfection??They don’t need changing!!!

Where are you going with this and what does this have to do with bears? I promise I will get us there…be patient.

I was out for one of my “perfect day” drives recently, complete with coffee, pack, rifle, bear tag etc. I was listening to a playlist I had downloaded, “F’n Great Covers” which they really were, I mean Black Stone Cherry’s cover of “Can’t You See” by Marshall Tucker was incre…sorry back to the bears.

Anyway, so I am driving, coffee etc and Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” came on, the stripped-down version from the aforementioned album many folks hated. The original version is a seminal work, and one of the great musical moments of the 1980’s. This version is terrific but still, why try and “reinvent” the wheel? Why change what does not need changing? (I am getting there; I swear to God).

While I was driving, I considered what may have inspired Bon Jovi to want to revisit songs they had played for years, sold countless records (yes, I said records) and cd’s and filled arenas across the globe while fans sang every word and drank every note with love and adoration. What motivated this band to take these rock anthems and “unplug” or “deconstruct” them?

The album title “This Left Feels Right” suggested they may not have been sure of the direction and then…

And then it happened….

I had rounded a corner on the trail and suddenly was confronted with a wash out. The area I had intended to investigate for the day was not reachable. I was frustrated because the area I was headed to has always been great for bear hunting and now I had to change course and rethink my plan. I turned around and headed back down the road and jumped on a spur road I had passed. A quick “left” turn and I was off to discover some new country on a road I had driven-by dozens of times in the past and ignored.

The road was short and there were no bears but I did discover a small rock pile of perfectly sized rocks for future landscaping projects (anyone who knows me also knows my love for building rock piles…that’s another article for later). I continued my series of “left” turns for the rest of the day and explored trails I hadn’t traveled, taking me to places I had never seen and opening up miles of unconsidered country for me to explore in the hunting seasons to come. I now understood why these “lefts” indeed felt right.

Bears or no bears, deer, or no deer; a “perfect day” for me hunting is not about whether I pull the trigger and or fill a tag. It is instead allowing myself to drift along aimlessly, unburdened by decisions of any consequence other than whether to turn left or right while I sip coffee and try to remember who Bon Jovi’s keyboard player was (David Bryan in case you were wondering).

Bon Jovi took a song that was loved by millions and reduced it down to its basic essence, a great melody and some lyrics that meant something to them. Playing that song thousands of times, I imagine they stopped hearing the notes they way they were intended and the feelings that inspired them to write it in the first place. Changing something up, reducing it to the root of its intent gives us clarity, understanding and appreciation of how simple and rewarding something like a song, a drive or a day’s hunting can be.

In the last 2 months the world has taken a hard “left turn” from normal. The newest album release from everyone’s favorite band…’Life’ and their 2020 opus “The COVID Sessions” has and will have a prolific effect on all of our lives that goes way beyond being “toilet paper insecure”. We can commiserate and spend our time longing for how things used to be and how “Life’s” last few albums “were more cohesive”, “more poppy, not so isolating” … (I know you get the metaphor…so I will move on) or we can see where this “left turn” takes us.

I am guilty of far too often, not drinking in a moment when it happens; to pause for a beat and see it for what it is. Here is an opportunity for all of us to listen and enjoy the “unplugged” version of our own lives. I have decided to enjoy this quieter, more intentional existence that makes you appreciate the value of a handshake, the warmth of a hug and how much you miss seeing your friends and family.

“And times when you’re all alone, all you do is think.” Great line from a great song and I am living it a lot more of late. My thinking has changed, instead of wondering about how and why we got here, I am putting my effort into what to do now that we have arrived. The line “I play for keeps, cause I might not make it back.”

We may never get back to “how it was” so why not live more deliberately and enjoy the here and now.

Bears are the epitome of that lyric’s sentiment. There is no animal I have watched go about its business with a more simple purpose and “in the moment” indulgence than a bear. Find one in a meadow of freshly bloomed dandelions and prepare to envy the pure joy and contentment you will see on that yellow stained muzzle (see I told you I would bring it home!). So here we all are. Together in a world with bears, Bon Jovi and roads in every direction. So grab a cup of your favorite beverage, a kick-ass playlist, and head somewhere…anywhere… and along the way…make a few left turns…I promise they will feel right Don Willimont

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