"Fishing to me is, well fishing is my church. It's where I go to get whole again. It's where I go to be at peace with all the natural beauty in this great land of ours. Fishing is my church, and I am Team Elysian."
I had a completely different opening for this new Blog edition, something about running through the woods as a kid, fishing pole in hand, you know, the how, what, why, where and when I got started fishing. But sometimes clarity and insight come unexpectedly from a place unplanned maybe when you need it most. Seek, and ye shall find.
The quote above is from a short video promo I recorded for Team Elysian, part of our responsibilities as a Pro Staff Angler for Elysian Fishing. I had thought about what to say and how I best wanted to represent myself when the words coalesced inside my head from a maelstrom of swirling noise settling into a quiet lake of solace.
The full impact and meaning of what I said didn't hit me until the next day. It hit me hard. So, a little truth here about what returning to fishing has meant to me on a deeply personal level.
I'm not a deeply religious person but I have always kept faith as my Father raised me with a strong sense of family, tradition and God. I was also taught, as a man I needed to be the rock and the center of strength for my family. A little over a year ago that strength was put to the test in a way that threatened my home, my family and my faith.
My son, a man now, fell victim to a horrible thing that has taken so many young lives and continues to do so. My wife and I were shook to our very core. Right down to our souls. We said what every parent says, "How could this happen to us? HOW?"
I won't go into what this thing is, its not about that. I'm writing about how I was helped to cope and support and to be that strength my Father raised me to be.
Someone once said; If you ask God for strength he doesn't just give you strength, but the opportunity to be strong. If you ask God to be brave, he doesn't just make you brave. He gives you the opportunity to show courage.
One sunny morning back in April 2018 a good friend mentioned, seemingly out of the blue that he used to fish. In fact he was once a tournament angler and asked if I had ever fished. We'd never talked about this before. Not once, despite countless hours hanging out together, over a game or a bottle of our favorite whiskey and despite having known each other for a good amount of years.
He had very little idea of what my family and I were going through but though I didn't know it yet a path was opening for me. I got excited about the prospect of fishing again without fully understanding how important it would become to me and why...
The world is a very different one from the world in which I grew up. Technology, which truth be told I love and use constantly has our lives moving at breakneck speeds. Its hard to hide from it, find peace in it, just simply disconnect from its torrent of information and lights and colors and distractions.
Fishing became that quiet harbor, that island of peace and solace. But I didn't quite know that yet. I'm not the smartest guy in the world. Takes me a little time to figure things out. It was a morning like this one that I became aware of how much I needed this...
The sun had yet to peek out over the tall trees, the wind was quiet allowing the lake's surface to be a soft mirror for the light and shadows to reflect the world back in softer colors. The world was at peace and so was I for the first time in a while.
...and I leaned over, rod gripped tightly in both hands as if letting go would be the letting go of all that sustained me and held me together. My shoulders stooped over as the weight of everything was becoming too much to support.
I began to cry, I had not yet done so since the start of all this. How could I and be the rock my wife and daughter and son needed me to be?
But here I was under open skies and surrounded by all the grace, majesty and life of creation. I cried, exposed until I was completely and utterly empty.
Now I could find a way to fill myself again. To make it back to being whole again and to be the rock and pillar of strength for my family that my father was for me.
Fishing became my outlet, my peace and my church. It was not an escape but a path through a wilderness I had not ever explored. It gave me time to think, recharge, laugh and learn. And helped return my strength to me.
Fishing is not always about the fish... And I'm thankful for that...
Get Fit, Go Fish and Tight Lines!