Counting your Blessings

BlessingsHead

Fly fishing is filled with metaphors of life, at least it seems like that to me but perhaps that is just a fly angler’s passion showing through. Maybe golfers or climbers say the same thing, you know like “missing a putt is like life really” or “you can’t climb if you are afraid to fall”. I don’t know but to me fishing is a central theme and with that I see life’s ups and downs reflected within.

One of the less pleasant aspects of modern life is that we are all encouraged to be dissatisfied, particularly if some corporate entity somewhere can profit from our discontent. Watch the TV and you will soon discover that your skin isn’t smooth enough, your arse is too big, your kids too wayward, your car too small and your washing not really that white. It is an endless attack on contentment and a space all too easy into which one can fall.

Men’s magazines constantly have you worrying that you aren’t smart enough, sufficiently wealthy, healthy, skinny, sexy, muscular or any of an endless array of apparently critical failings. Women’s publications are worse, the covers in every single monthly edition suggest things that you should really be doing in the bathroom, the garden, the kitchen and the bedroom, all of which you have apparently gotten wrong up to now. (it’s a miracle that you are still kicking)

Read a bit closer and in general all you need to do to get yourself on track is to pop the pill, buy the appliance, change your diet, have the surgery or throw more funds at something. Apparently that’s all it takes,  just chuck a bit more money at it and all will be well, you will have tight abs, a gorgeous lawn, an eye catching car, you will get the women (or men), you will have the success, acolytes will travel the world to fall at your feet and you will awake in nirvana..

Fly fishing magazines are beginning to follow the same tiresome rhetoric, where once one may have enjoyed an article on someone’s modification of a classic fly pattern now there are endless destinations (always priced in dollars), there are fish that you should be catching, exotic locations you should have visited if you are to call yourself a real angler. There are rods, reels and lines all which will supposedly enhance your experience, catch you more fish and have you casting into the next county. Not last week I saw a line cutter that cost as much as my first car, admittedly it wasn’t much of a car but you get the point..

Magazines

Plus of course the magazine covers always show HUGE fish, much in the same way that women’s mags always have super models on the front,  or men’s publications show V8 Supercharged, candy apple red Mustangs or something similar. Discontent is BIG business, and someone somewhere it throwing millions of advertising dollars at it to help you into a state of depression.

It is the way of the world, what I like to call “The Marketing Department” and nothing wrong with it except that it encourages unhappiness more than anything else.

Just recently I went fishing with a friend, it wasn’t a guiding trip, there was no financial transaction and only a moderate outlay of funds. We fished with basic tackle, perfectly suitable for the task at hand but not expensive. We skipped the toll road and took a little longer to reach the river but it didn’t matter as we weren’t in a hurry. The stream was flowing crystal clear after some recent rains and there were a few mayflies coming off as we hit the first run.

PeterSB1

It was a day of familiar banter about a range of subjects, some even related directly to fishing for that matter. We cast nymphs and dries over familiar water, we spotted some fish before we cast and we had more than a little success. Perhaps less than we might have and yet certainly more that should righteously be expected.

There are more exotic locations, with greater numbers of fish, bigger fish and perhaps even slightly clearer water. There is tackle that is fancier, more expensive and just maybe even a little more efficient. But you know, we fished on public water unbothered by anyone else, a result of the beat system that spreads the angling load. We caught some really rather good trout, a result of committed catch and release regulations and we did all of that not more than an hour’s drive from a major metropolitan centre.  We enjoyed the familiarity of known waters, with a good friend, a day of blessed solitude, trout and fantastic mountain scenery and we still managed to be home in time for tea.

Peter Release2

Fly fishing is, or at least can be a simple pleasure, and aren’t those always the best kind? When you get right down to it, on the river it is about you, about how you perform, what choices you make, your entire universe compressed to just you and the fish. Life cut down to the simplest of things. You get it right you catch some fish, you get it wrong, well then you catch less and above all it doesn’t really matter because you were going to put them back anyway. It’s not life and death, but it is life.

In these parts we don’t have a great deal of fishing, but what we do have is pretty darned good. One could fall asleep disheartened that you may never get to wade New Zealand’s South Island, fish the Ponoi Peninsula or crack it on a Seychelles bonefish flat. Hell you could slip into discontent that your reel isn’t the latest bar-stock aerospace aluminium, or that your nipper is a nail cutter from the local drug store. You could even fret over the idea that you probably never will wake up with a physically sated supermodel who is dying to cook your breakfast before she catches a plane for the Bahamas to get to an advertising shoot.  Or you can simply say, “darn it, this isn’t half bad”.

There was a little publication doing the rounds a year or so back that suggested that if you had money in the bank you were in the top 8% of the world’s population, if you are healthy you are better off than the million or so people who won’t see the end of the week. If you can read and write you are way ahead of some three billion people who haven’t learned how to,  if you had food in the fridge or indeed even had a fridge, well you were near in the realms of the Gods.

Peter Release

I don’t have DSTV, a smart phone, a 4×4 vehicle, sexy ab’s or even my youth , but I figure that if I have clear, catch and release trout water, with fish up to 20” that will regularly rise to dry flies, glorious scenery and friend or two to fish it with not an hour from my home, well that isn’t too bad.  Right now it’s pissing with rain, the temperatures have plummeted, the river season is closed and there is snow on the mountains. But I shouldn’t be complaining, I am able to read and write, I own a fridge and I have a roof over my head which keeps the rain off………..

Hell I could have be born a bait fisherman.. 🙂

KidsFun

So today say a little thank you that you are a fly fisherman, do something nice for someone less fortunate, hug your kids, tell your wife (or husband) you love them and plan to hit a river or lake sometime soon. I don’t suppose it takes a lot more than that to be happy, not if you really think about it.

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2 Responses to “Counting your Blessings”

  1. Tony Mair Says:

    One of most poignant recent musings!
    I am in the S of France about to try to mountains streams north of Nice…
    Best wishes
    Tony
    Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

  2. Drew Kennedy Says:

    Stunning newsletter Tim. It’s really does put life back into perspective,

    Drew

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