Catch & Release: What we hold on to, what we let go, and the one that got away.
There is a rhythm in fishing, a dance, between man and his fishing pole. Not unlike that of a writer and the writer’s pen, both instruments used to lease the mind of all that it holds.
As a little girl, I would find myself sitting on the banks of the river watching my grandfather, who had no idea that I was studying him, as I hid behind my camera lens, mesmerized by his dance with nature, touched by the communion he had with it. Decades later, I can still recall my emotions as I witnessed the oneness he had with the elements around him.
It was always such a treat, to go with my grandparents’ on one of their camping/fishing trips. They, along with several of their friends, and their families, would caravan down the Oregon highway, stopping on the John Day River for a little fishing, before continuing down to the Oregon coast on their annual quest to vacate their normal lives, their yearly ritual appointment with summer and with the great out of doors.
Even now, I love to think about the dance that my grandfather so brilliantly perfected through his many years of returning to the river, it was as if all of nature accepted his presence, as if they somehow remember him, and honored his right to be there, an equal witness to the season.
The witness came in the form of the birds who continued to sing their songs and the bugs who kept true to their constant chatter. By the rodents, who still, in spite of granddad’s presence, scurried to the water’s edge for their drink, while the reed grasses whistled in concert with the rolling water where he stood with his waders, it all had a beautiful, yet somewhat strange, sense of oneness between man, and nature.
Memories like these put a stamp on my heart creating a place for my mind can go when I needed to calm myself, when life became stressful, when hope would hide in the grayness of life. I would close my eyes, breath in and take myself back to the riverbanks, to the awareness of my grandpa, the rhythm of his casting, the whirling of his reel, the rushing of the water, and the sounds of the wind whispering through the breeze. As I bravely opened my eyes to the present, the sweet inner stillness reminded me that all is well with my soul, just as it was for my grandpa there on that riverbank.
In recent years I have taken up fly- fishing, it has become a sacred thing for me, another part of my writer’s process. As other writers know, often times the largest part of writing is done long before the pen ever sees the paper. I believe Writing was the gift given to me, in order to help me handle the things that life knew, as a young child and young adult I would need to be able to process, in order to survive, it has been like an invisible, forever friend, who was always there for me.
However; it was only four years ago, that I gave myself permission to “call” myself a writer, to put my writing out into the viewing world for their assessment, and in doing so, for the first time, I felt as if I had introduced people to the whole of me. Going public as a writer, was my Kodak moment, much like the many, many photos in our family album of my grandpa with his line of fish as he displays them so proudly.
My writing, like all relationships, changed as events in my life changed. It went from being my recue, to my retreat: that sacred place for my dreams, and a soft place for matters of the heart. This forever friend is still the one I run to, as I search for ways to honor all it has been to me over the years. As I look back over my life, I can see that somewhere through the pages of time, my friend has become me and I, my friend. Like the visual of my grandpa on the river, I find that there is now a rhythm between us, one that brings to me a sweet calmness, my writing and I have entered a silent conversation, one between two old friends, one put to pen and paper.
The little girl in me will forever recall my granddad on that river with his fishing pole dancing with nature. But today, when I close my eyes, in the quest of finding that calming place to shield me from the cares of the world, I see me, sitting at my desk, pen in hand, dancing in a rhythm all my own, in deep conversation with my forever friend, about all the stories waiting to be told. My line having been cast into the rivers of creative opportunity.