Ladyfisher

This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

June 7th, 2004

Touchstones

Over the past short while, we've lost some of our Fly Anglers OnLine folks to death, Leon Chandler, Don Cianca, and a week ago Ron Koenig. Our connection with all these folks has been our common love for fly fishing and we may never have met them - or the many other folks we cherish as friends - except that we all came together on this website.

We lost a former President this weekend too. The connection with him will be different for each person, but for most he set a fine example of the power of positive thinking, humility, and sticking to ones principals.

Those connections are what I call 'touchstones.'

We've had them throughout history in fly fishing. Things which give us a connection with the first person who ever cast a fly rod. The first guy who caught a fish. The first who lost a really big fish. The first fish on a fly you tied. The first big trip to an exotic place (even Yellowstone National Park) - or saltwater. Each who experience those major events in their fly fishing journey have a connection to every other fly fisher who ever did it!

Think about that for a moment. I'm not talking about the 6 degrees of separation here. I'm saying that each of us who fly fish have/are walking in exactly the same shoes (or waders or hip boots) as every other person in fly fishing. It's much more than having empathy or sympathy which ever fits the moment. Actually, we may have actually tread on the same well-worn path or trail to the river, stream or lake.

We may not fish the same rods, or lines, or flies - but the connection is much closer than in any other avocation I can conceive.

Each of us has fretted over selecting the right fly at the right time. Or berated ourselves for some piece of absolute stupidity which just cost us a terrific fish. We have shared the same thoughts, the same mind-set. All because of fly fishing. How neat is that?

We come from all walks of life, all backgrounds, every political, social or education bias - yet here we are, frequenting the same website, looking for some little piece of knowledge or insight to improve what? Our fishing?

Maybe not.

Just maybe the connection and community found here on FAOL, and in fly fishing is a search for some part of us which will give us all a deeper sense of who and what we are as individuals. That spark of 'self' which allows us to have a modicum of peace. A respite from all that is our daily lives.

That somewhere in this community there are people who are finding a way to go fishing when we can't. To have the adventure of those exotic places we have yet to travel to. To vicariously take part in those adventures though we are tied to responsibilities of the now.

Those touchstones are how we survive in what is becoming an increasingly hostile world. They are what allow us to clear our heads, dump the cache of garbage playing in the tapes of our conscious, and instead connect with the joy and beauty of the outdoor world.

They allow each of us to use the power of positive thinking to drive out the negative - to plan for even a short outing to our closest fly fishing water to reconnect with the real world. One we have created as our special place. The place where nothing else matters except you, the water and the fish. Call it recreation or re-creation. The truth is, it is how we survive - no, more than that - it is how we succeed.

The next time you are on a favorite piece of water, pick up a small stone. One which will fit comfortably in your pocket. Put it in there with your loose change. If someone asks what it is, tell them it's your touchstone. ~ DLB

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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