While my Friends were fishing … April 28, 2011

“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

20 thoughts on “While my Friends were fishing … April 28, 2011

  1. Welcome back! Look forward to hearing about your trips and seeing patterns for this year…….it’s about time! Also looking forward to hearing about your new little tying buddy after you make that trip down to the shelter…. Can’t kick ass without a full crew. Guess I will start tying again now.

    1. Mornin’ Mitch. Two little make kittens are upstairs with my family, getting to know our home gradually, making noises like there were two lions rumbling around, leaping and chasing down their prey. Amazing how much noise two little fluff-balls can make. I’m working on tying some Steelhead Wakers that I have been dreaming about. Kings this spring, i hope, but maybe yes or no, the summer steelhead had better be looking up come September. And this year, for real, I will Join you to chase the Wiley Coyote (sea-runs) in your backyard. That is a promise. After all, I’m now semi-retired! Dude! JN

    1. Jess: as requested, silly fly tying videos will be shot before the week’s end. And I do mean silly. And don’t mind my new haircut. Reminiscent of Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys, if you get the drift? JN

  2. Booyah! Jays BACK!!!! I have a gut feeling that this time it’s with vengeance. I truly feel for you Jay, the “d” blows, especially, when you’re a chrome chaser. It’s not enough that us addict’s have to stare at the glooming face of inevitable defeat but when tag teamed with life’s daily bag punches it can just end up getting to you.

    I want to let you in on little secret of mine that has helped me pull myself out of that nasty darkness and back onto the rower’s bench………..Bass Fishing. That’s right! I proclaim that there is nothing that ripping bass lips won’t fix and now is the time to do it.

    shhhh don’t tell anyone but the Springer’s are here…………

  3. Jay,

    As I said Yesterday, this Morning and Today –
    Go, Jay, Go!

    Good to see you back. Get busy, do something you feel good about and start kicking some little “d” butt!

    We are pleased and lucky you are back.


  4. Jay,

    I may not know you personally, but you have been an inspiration. I’m just learning to fly fish and found great insight from your blog and fly tying videos.

    Hang in there…Know that there are people out in the blogosphere that need mentoring.


    1. Sean. Here’s the thing of it… I receive inspiration when i learn that something I shared through these silly stories touched someone out there in the impersonal blogosphere. If I can help people learn to tie a fly, laugh, understand a feeling they couldn’t quite explain before, think I’m (me, that is) a complete loon, think about what it will take to save wild salmon and steelhead, take action to make today a little kinder day for someone, stand up to a bully, choose the perfect hook to tie that egg pattern, marvel at the fact that we can be obsessed about fish when the world is so messy and perfect at the same instant . . . . . . . it is rewarding beyond the simple fact that I need to write in order to keep from going absolutely screaming crazy myself. Man, if you could see some of the fly tying videos that play in my head……

      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I bet you do the same for other people too.


  5. You’re a truly good human being, Jay. It’s always a pleasure to open the computer and read your words. Glad the blog is back.

  6. I know I’ve stated it before, but you’re a great writer. Such a beautifully worded post on the human condition and our passions. Thanks for the inspiring sentiments. Always enjoy reading your insights. And watching the vids. Keep it all coming.

  7. Jay, well said my friend. Life keeps happening. Good on ya. I think we need to go out and have you teach me a thing or two about them spring fishes.



    1. Chase, thank you for your kind encouragement. Just remember that each of us has strength and wisdom at hand, if we can only grasp and share it with others. JN

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