The River Taught Me

 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown fond of finding extravagant excuses to justify adventures that are similar to the ones I enjoyed when I was in third grade and would get me in trouble for climbing too high up trees or skinning my knees and staining my jeans with blood. While I enjoy the idea of inhabiting a domain, I’ve found that I often get restless and uneasy long before it’s appropriate to deem the domain a home.

In recent years, I’ve discovered the art and practice of fly fishing to be one of the great perpetuators of excuse making as a means for traveling. Long before I ever caught my first trout on a dry fly, I began the pursuit of what would eventually become an addiction, in the driveway of my house hundreds of miles away from the nearest fishable river.

I convinced a friend (and master of the art) to lead me through the process of casting. I remember watching him nimbly assemble his four-piece rod, feed the line through the eyelets and raise it above his head to begin the back and forth motion with grace and poise, playing with the rod as if it were a finely tuned instrument.

Perfect cast after perfect cast laid the neon yellow line gently at the base of the trash can, which we had set up as a target. If my friend was playing a finally tuned instrument, I followed it up by wildly swinging a dull and rusted axe. But slowly, I learned. And I loved it. I loved the idea of it more than anything.

Years later, I’ve checked off bucket list fishing destinations. From Montana to Wyoming, the Sierras to Washington and many places in between. The hunger for the tranquility you can only find on the river has kept me searching for something I may never find.

The closest thing I’ve felt to truly being at home since being confronted with the flirtatious dance I’ve been doing with the idea of becoming an adult, has been the state of mind you find after spending hours wading around a river in pursuit of an elusive trout, to hold it just briefly in your hands before releasing it back to the river.

While the practice of the pursuit of fishing may vary widely among anglers, the common bond shared between them all is understood as an unwritten rite of passage in the world of fly fishing. The purpose of the adventure can only be defined in the practice itself. The practice evolves with the changing of every season, as it will forever.