“Someday I’ll be big enough that you can’t hit me, and all you’re ever gonna be is mean.” (Taylor Swift, from her recent Album: Speak Now)
It’s odd, sometimes, the places where we find inspiration. The last month has been a roller coaster for my family. But we are fine. Really fine. Some things, some events just hurt. They hurt because of little and big reasons. Getting laid-off after 34 years as a professional. A friendship lost. Saying goodbye to a family pet. Oh heck, it’s all part of being alive.
My family’s losses have been trivial in relation to the events people around our community and the world have been enduring. Someone’s little girl is dying of cancer. Twelve children in a South American City will never go home to their families. Tens of thousands of people were swept away in Japan. Men and women around the world are going on their hundredth or two hundredth job interview – hoping each day that they will find a new job, hoping that they will be able to pay the rent, or go to the Doctor, or buy a birthday gift for their child. People without food or water or kindness just try to stay alive one more day. Me? I live here in paradise. No complaints. I may weep, but I give thanks every day, rain or shine.
I struggle through periodic bouts of depression. Small “d” depression, or so I claim. Events and circumstances can trigger the “d.” It’s the way I’m wired. Objectively, I’m grateful for every aspect of my life. I am grateful even for the events that set the “d” in motion after laying quiet for so long. Sometimes, though, I just hurt.
I’m not the only one, right? You too? Someone you know? Someone you love? Someone you work with, someone you care about, a boss, an employee, an anonymous rider on the bus, the fellow who shared a fishing story in the fly shop, maybe even that kid who gave you a few flies on the river last week?
No big deal. I take heart in the salmon’s cycle of life and death. It is all part of the natural world. Life is nurtured by death. Great pain, great crimes against humanity stimulate people to action. So too, small inconveniences can serve to generate constructive action. Victims learn to become survivors. Survivors vow to right wrongs. Survivors must vow to make today a little better for someone they meet, in even the smallest way. Little hurts heal quickly. Big hurts never heal completely. Ever. The wounds are always, always there, even if they’re scabbed over. New little hurts elicit out-of-proportion reaction, because they release demons kept tamed, if not forgotten, most of the time.
Small hurts of recent will only serve to make me stronger.
My old wounds, though, will never ever heal. That’s OK with me too. It’s part of the way I am, a gift of adversity. One of my best friends will shake his head. “Get your act together Jay”, he will say. “Why blather about stuff that no one wants to hear anyway”? Because I do. It’s the way I am. I blather about feelings and flies, and my family and salmon conservation and wild fish and hatchery fish and how important it is to strive to be better men and women than we were when we woke up and tying flies and rooster feathers and how much I love steelhead egg patterns and fly lines and how good it is to see a salmon roll after going grabless for a week and what I ate last time I was in Port Orford and what really scares me about aging and how silly we are to be fighting among ourselves when we should all be fighting to save the fish we love and how pale is our passion for wild fish in compared to the passion we should feel for the weak and enslaved people of this world, and even why I still use bead chain eyes on my Comets and down-eye steelhead fly hooks.
My friends will go on accepting me anyway, with all my warts and imperfections and fallibility and semi objective and wildly speculative ideas and bias. That’s the way they are.
It’s time for me to get back to tying flies, and making un-rehearsed fly tying videos, and going fishing, and quit avoiding my friends, and kick some ass, and … I still feel numb. Still feel broken. But that will pass. Always has. Any minute now. Any minute.
This blog post is for everyone who has ever felt joy or pain. For everyone who has ever been hit by someone or something “mean.” You’re gonna feel good again. Trust in that, please.
And this post is my way of giving thanks to the people I know and don’t know who have shared their love and encouragement and good karma. It helped. Your care matters. And trust me on this, I’m not the only person who needs it. You and I both have encouragement and compassion to share, and must share generously with those who most need it.
I promise to blather about fishing or flies or salmon conservation next. I promise. Really do.
Jay Nicholas, April 28, 2011