Lost and Found

The following thoughts flowed as a result of a good friend mentioning that he had lost his love for fishing along the way. The larger context is how we find pleasure in the activities that we have chosen or perhaps have gotten a hold on us. We all have things that we enjoy and the aspects of a given activity that get most of our attention can change over time. I’ve attempted to put into words, my own experiences along those lines.

I think I get carried away at times with a notion. Hopefully this makes sense to somebody.

I’ve lost and found a ‘love’ for things that I’ve enjoyed.
Fishing is one of them. Its difficult to describe in adequate terms what is largely intangible, but what the heck.
I have recognized over the years that there are two aspects of activities that I’ve enjoyed. Two aspects that have provided a means of or anchor for the pleasure derived, but with a common ground in each. Its when one aspect begins to unbalance the two taking a stronger part and in a manner of speaking effacing the other that the trouble begins…for me.

Starting with traipsing in the woods as a boy collecting frogs and snakes, exploring mysteries and pushing the boundaries of the known, to overnight camping and watching celestial bodies, to backpacking and covering greater distances, climbing about on rock and ice, kayaking through deep places with a landscape both below and above, mountain biking for pleasure or placement, fishing with worm or minnow to bench made bait, and finally to appreciating a companion dog chasing birds in the same landscapes. A companion to give and get a hug while carrying on or having a sandwich on a rock or stump in the morning sun.

Being human, I like and find some pleasure in owning things. Nice things. Cool things. Things that work well for the task at hand. There is pleasure to be had there. But that is a fleeting pleasure and the search for and anticipation of acquisition often the longer lasting part.
That aspect and the pleasure of use for the task, I’ve found to be grounded in a thirst that is never quenched–it has just changed flavor.
I get bored easily– with things, if the focus is on the things and the activities themselves.
Whether its been the physical exertion to accomplish the difficult for degree or distance or mental effort required to overcome discomfort when pushing limits, when done its done and the pleasure is diminished. When the focus is there.
What those activities have had in common is the landscapes and the sights, sounds and smells but mostly the wonder and contemplation of those surroundings.
Further thought brings to mind another way to articulate the parts. Tools, task and surroundings. For me, the pleasure derived from the first two have been diminished with time and use and the last never. Never because the greatest natural gift of all is employed in the appreciation..the mind and the imagination. And when put to use in the observation and wonder of the layers and depth of meaning; and yes the beginnings of the natural world, that is so vast in its interwoven complexities and simplicities, represent a gulf that can only be partly crossed.
I’ve never been bored in that place. The pleasure derived there, has never diminished. In fact, has only increased with time and more so during those periods when the other aspects fall out of focus.
Perhaps in part because of age…in some cases the tools aren’t swung as hard or as fast. I think that this has served to swing the balance more easily back to the things that were once less tangible.

To stand in a river and think of the wonder of reflected light dancing on a hard and fluid surface, with creatures buzzing and swishing, singing and mating. Watching the loop of a flyline as it performs according to laws of perfect geometry and gravity and other forces only guessed at. Laughing with a simple pleasure when a fish takes. Where does that particular pleasure stand when separated from the others? The gift of the ability to observe and wonder–yes and hope.
A man can lose the love of some aspects of a thing, but how can he lose the love of the other when there can be no end to it in this life.

I’ll never tire of sitting a stump and letting the cares of the world sift as a colander does unneeded fluid, leaving only the important.

I’ve found that the mundane things hold just beneath the surface–so much more. Its the territory of wondering and imagination.
Though I love the dogs and what they give at home and afield (although there is much more that our dogs offer that would make this post a long one), the feel of carrying an old hand worn double, the sudden flush of a bird, the feel of cork and graceful loops of line and the tug when a trout takes–when the brightness of any of those things might fade, the landscapes will keep me.
Yup–those activities have been vehicles and at times the vehicle has been given more attention than the journey or the landscape.

My friend–take that rod and step into a river.


My point could have been made with just three or four sentences, but what would be the fun in that.



~ by John McGranaghan on September 24, 2011.

3 Responses to “Lost and Found”

  1. I’m glad you didn’t take the 3-4 sentences route. This was a great read…and this sentence struck me : “the mundane things hold just beneath the surface–so much more. Its the territory of wondering and imagination.” Beautiful. (And very, very true!)

  2. I understand completely. For months I was anticipating a vacation to Montana this summer. I studied maps and guide books. I planned all of the waters I was going to fish. Selected all of the gear I would need and so on. It was just going to be me and ten days of fly fishing in one of the worlds best areas to fly fish. Then…..I asked my wife to join me. She didn’t want to go when I first made my plans. But watching me prepare for the trip made her want to go too. But she agreed that this was my vacation and she would only be there for a few days. She wanted to go visit Yellowstone and the Tetons. So I cut back on the fishing schedule to accommodate her. Then the flight leaving our airport got screwed up and we had to postpone until the next day. But she extended her stay one more day to make up for the flight delay, which meant one less day of fishing for me. Now I was getting disheartened and in a foul mood. I went from ten days of fishing down to five.

    But the awe of Yellowstone has a way of making everything alright. Time seems to vanish there. It’s amazing how long you can look at all of the beauty there whether it’s a lake, river, bison, or mountain vistas. I was still able to wet a line while in the park while my wife sat in a meadow and read a book or took pictures. And somehow losing all of those days of fishing didn’t matter. The opportunity to fish was always there, I just didn’t take the time to do it. And going fishing was the whole point of my being there!!

    All of those months of preparation. All of the planning. And yes, all of the dreams of fishing in those waters all were forgotten. I was with my wife, in Yellowstone, and all was right with the world for a few short days.

    • Hey anonymous–your account sure sounds like to this pilgrim, you all latched onto something worth latching onto. I’ve spent some time out that way, and when the nonsense of the mundane world evaporates out of the glass of a person’s soul and that event occurs at the same time as gazing at that landscape around where you were–well…stuff happens.
      ‘Specially if you take a few moments to breathe easy.
      That was a great story. Thank you.

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