The picture above is what I spent a bunch of time doing last week. I mean a bunch…like about 10 hours a day. It was once again a great trip to the San Juan River just outside Farmington, NM; an annual pilgrimage to a familiar place with my Dad and a good friend of mine.
As you may be aware by now, I sort of have an affinity for fly fishing. Yes, that’s an understatement. I do my best to get out of each trip what I really need. In my opinion, there is nothing more important than some time away, unplugged from the usual chaos of our daily lives. For three straight days, this was my schedule:
–Rise about daybreak, eat a quick breakfast, pack up and hit the river.
–Fish about 7am to Noon, and then head back in to have lunch at the restaurant near Abe’s Motel and Fly Shop where we are staying.
–Rest, maybe take a nap for 45 mins, then head back out to fish.
–Fish until dark, when I can no longer see to tie on a fly or unhook a fish.
That is about 10 hours a day on the water, with a break for lunch. During that time, my sole (soul) focus is to watch the indicator on the top of my fly line for the slightest indication of movement. My quarry are rainbow and brown trout, which are fished for almost every day of their lives. It is a catch and release river, so they get put back each time they are caught, a little more wary about what they eat. Eventually they get to the point that if you do not drift your fly and your line in EXACTLY the right manner to them, they will ignore your offering.
I spent four hours fishing Wednesday morning without a fish to my credit. In the afternoon, I caught 19. That’s how this game is played, sometimes you figure things out and you win, and sometimes you do not. On occasion you can’t get the right combination of things for a while, other times, it’s like you can’t miss. Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it? I moved to a new section of the river, exploring new territory. I found some of it to be unsuitable for my type of fishing, other spots fit perfectly to what I was doing, and I had success. I went to old familiar places, using tried and true techniques to catch fish, but before long I was looking for a new challenge elsewhere on the river. Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?
I slept like a baby each night, my mind placid from hours of total focus. All that mattered to me in those long hours on the river was the indicator. The sound of the river, the zing of my fly line when I got a fish, all of those things a mere compliment to the task at hand. The stillness of mind, relaxed focus that fly fishing brings is the most soul-cleansing thing I do in my life. I have had many a time where I sort of “wake up” after hours of fishing, so immersed in what I am doing that the world just melts away. The closest explanation I can provide if you have never experienced a moment like this is when you are driving somewhere and your brain kind of goes on autopilot. A red light occurs, or you hear a siren coming your way and suddenly you are aware of your surroundings again. Its like that…for hours at a time, in some cases.
With the state of the world we live in; the 24/7 news cycles, Social Media, and all of the other things that hyper-inundate our lives, there is no substitute for the quiet time spent in the outdoors. Whether you hike, do yoga, whatever it is that brings that unplugged peace of mind, make sure you allocate time to do it. You’ll be better off for it. Find your happy place, go visit it as often as you can, without wearing out the novelty of it. Cleanse your soul, refresh your outlook on life, and then get back to your tasks at hand with a renewed spirit. It’s the key to your best output, and the best version of you.
Today I return to my usual life; work, meetings, emails and phone calls. The affects of this past week will wear off before long, but my mind is in so much better of a place right now. I will do my best to hold onto that state for as long as I can. And I’ll look forward to the next trip, not too far away, where I can cleanse the system once again, and feel the way I feel now.