Monday, November 28, 2011

Life and Fly (One Bug Is Fake)

Written and contributed by Brandon Robinson

Fly fishing sometimes is located between a therapist’s office, and the Catholic “Sacrament of Penance”.  The angler plays the role of both therapist and patient or, sinner and priest.  Ex-girlfriend is dating again, and you found out about it?  2 hours on the water equates 20mgs of Prozac, 40 double-hauls replace 40 Hail-Marys.  However, when your problems fade away, fly fishing adapts as well, returning to pure enjoyment.   In the meantime, the 4 weight is there; along with weight forward floating line, #12 Caddis, and some pocket water, ready to work through your troubles with you.  The rhythm of the cast becomes a melodic chant; the sound of the line pulling through the guides preparing the mind for meditation.  Similar to Prozac or the rote of Confession, it doesn’t solve your problems for you; it’s only a starting point.  The rest is up to you.  I don’t know how to proceed but, I do know where I am hurts.

The sky never criticizes, and the water will never judge.  The wind is too busy traveling to share your secrets with anyone and the fish are fearfully preoccupied with what the giant will decide of their fates, to care about your problems. I think it is better that way. I always felt that if the choices you made put you on a path of destruction or pain, and you followed through knowing the outcome, you lost the right to have any pity-parties.  That is the time for you to work through your problems on your own time.  Instead of complaining to whoever will listen, I will yell into the wind.  No good can come from explaining pain to the person who hurt me, instead I will whisper to myself; all the while fishing through decisions and turmoil.

Sometimes the therapist is passive, forcing one to work through issues with no fish-tractions.  This of course only frustrates the angler more, yet in time the issue fades and the dedicated angler overcomes the slump.  They work it out by observing the issues at play: what possibly caused the fish to refuse the chosen flies, or which tactic to use to overcome weather conditions.  In that, the priest shows the sinner a metaphor for life.  Change out what isn’t working and push through.  Pay attention to your gut.  I personally believe that your mind registers observations that you don’t.  That is where your gut feeling comes from, listen to it.  I know what is coming; I will become an awkward footnote.  Shane rode away when he saw his time was finished.

I learned this by chance.  No one warned me of the therapeutic powers one unlocked when divining fish to hand, yet they were there.  After the first cast, 4 years of post-service issues immediately began losing the battlefield advantage.  Suddenly I had the ringmaster’s chair and whip to fight the beast off with.  Life started improving, more current issues began to loosen their grip, and I started living.  The ex and I learned together, and suddenly we felt even closer than ever before.  Just over two years later, the curtain was pulled back, revealing the end of a relationship that never was.  Immediately I was catatonic, only the primary functions survived.  Work was my only escape, but it was an exhausting distraction.  I tried to fish, and found instead bitter heartsickness.  Everywhere there was a sign of us.  We had a great day here; she caught her first over there…  Suddenly my therapist had her picture hanging above the couch. 
I stubbornly kept trying, looking and searching for the key.  Slowly a “medicine road” showed up like the faintest of trails in the sparse brush of a desert.  I had to make it [fly fishing] my own again.  I had to take it with me down the road and open up new experiences.  I needed friends and a world she didn’t exist in.  I turned to the internet, and eventually found Twitter.  I made a simple list I would accomplish.  I started to enjoy my time off.  By following the list, I was becoming whole again.
1.       Fish more.
2.       Fish longer.
3.       Fish different.

      I met new people; the first of many was Shawn and Ena Bischel.  I entered tournaments as the fly fishing “David” going up against spin tackle “Goliaths”.  I made a connection with an awesome company called Diablo Paddle Sports.  I went out and fished so hard and so often that people quit asking, “How are you feeling/handling/doing?”, and replaced it with a disinterested and near-rhetorical, “How’s the fishing?”  Meanwhile, I pushed further forward; allowing for new experiences to be had and healing to continue.  Eventually a disjointed group of webmasters convinced me to develop my Twitter account into something bigger.  One accidental posting, a couple of repeat queries into the status of a website, and a request to write laid the ground work for a new direction, destination unknown.  There was plenty of fishing involved, and it was forward progression, so I stuck with it.  I’ll let you know where it ends when I get there and find out.

The beautiful thing is the fishing experience slowly turned off depressing, drove straight through healing, and turned back on fun.  No longer did I think of her, like I used to.  Even if she was there, I wasn’t fishing with her; she was fishing with me.  It wasn’t the same, and I was glad for both the change and the company.  Then the inevitable happened.  I smelled the smoke long before I knew what was burning.  Suddenly, I was being replaced.  Sub-consciously it seemed, but replaced none-the-less.  Slowly I understood (and eventually I saw) that even though the fishing was different, few things had changed for the two of us.  I knew I was headed for a repeat heartache.  I was stubbornly immobile, determined to sink the unsinkable rather than change course.  She is a great person, we get along fine, and it’s easy.  It wasn’t until I thought I had run aground that I snapped out of it.  The jolt still hurt, and I knew the real moment (where I’m transformed from needed friend to awkward explanation) would set me back further.  I had to get back to my Medicine Road, swiftly before the pain multiplied.
So here I am, back in the confessional.  I bought a pipe (it’s new), I still follow my list, and I am determined to write more.  I remain her friend, but I am trying to move her out of the “default friend” spot.  It’s depressing, but after a year and a half it’s beyond necessary.  I decided that 120 spent on strippers, was more desperate than spending the same on 3 months of eHarmony, which is a start at least.  Finally, I am looking to relocate, somewhere I have never lived before like Colorado, Arkansas, or Washington… When you see me out there in the universe, be it at the Church of the Flowing Waters or the various social networks, and something strikes you as out of focus, remember that this picture is still developing.  Keep checking back, I’m just grateful you took the time to look.

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