A short video I made about the art of fly tying and what it means to me.
If fishing was easy they’d call it catching.
And if catching was the only purpose for it I probably wouldn’t be as strong a fisherman as I am now.
I am fortunate enough to live a life where the fish I catch are not my lifeline and so at the end of the day it’s just a chance for me to become more in tune with the outdoors. It’s a chance to slow down the gears in my head and focus on one moment and one objective, to catch a fish.
“Woah woah woah,” you might say, “I thought you said fishing wasn’t about catching?”
I did say that, but when one is fishing the definition is, truly, to catch a fish.
“Well, now I’m confused.”
Here, I’ll explain. Within the philosophy of practice there is a point achieved defined as “flow.” A point where your mind and body go into a sort of refined focus where you are only involved in that one moment or that next step and all outside distractions get set on the back burner.
This state of flow is achieved only when a person is focused on something so much so that they lose themselves in the moment.
For me, when I am out fishing in that lake or river my mind is only focused on one simple goal and that is to feel the weight of a fish on the end of my line. I think about where they are at or how to catch them, I watch the water’s surface for movement, I am aware of my shadow on the water and the wind in the air. When I am trying to catch a fish, I achieve that state of flow and it almost becomes a form of meditation.
In the moment I feel on two fronts. One, I feel a broad awareness of the environment around me and my focus is on so much yet so little that I feel the power in just being. Two, it’s a fact that I personally think and worry about way too much. This constant overthinking has been a part of my life for a long time yet somehow, among the rocks and sand and beating waves I can feel myself relax. It’s easy to not worry when I am out fishing because something else captivates my mind.
So, yes, the goal in fishing is to catch a fish but it is not the true reason for why I love it.
For me, fishing is the simplest lesson in being.
As my little brother and I laid outside in hammocks, we briefly reminisced on making forts in the mystery and grandeur of our own backyard back when we were elementary school kids. I’m 18, he is 14, and yet tonight we planned to break in our new hammocks by spending a night outside under the stars.
We couldn’t help but laugh at our backyard camping, and as I looked up through the branches I thought of how much value I got from my yard. I learned about raspberries and hummingbirds and fire making all in the comforts of a glass of lemonade and a lunch meat sandwich. We did everything from catch snakes and hunt birds (tried anyway) and all these little memories have made a big impact on me as I grew into a young adult.
Being in the outdoors isn’t always about the farthest reaches of the woods or getting away from civilization, it’s about giving our biophilic sides the connection with the outdoors it needs. Getting out allows us to have an adventure in the most intimate setting possible.
Doing things like backyard camping need only a cheap fire pit (or a dirt pit) and smore sticks. Quite honestly these things can all be adapted for young and old ages of any background.
Tonight, in the open air, it matters not that I’m 10 feet from my home. What matters is that I feel the air on my skin, the sound of birdsong fills the air, and I’m experiencing something outside the box.
If you have a gentle night during the warm summer months, grab some blankets and try sleeping under the stars by your house. They are just as mystifying as anywhere else.
I’d always seen hammocks as comfortable yet never really gave them much thought. It was one of those luxuries where once and awhile I’d get to lay in one and that would be my hammocking experience for the year. A mixture between distrust and disinterest always kept me from owning one. The thin fabric of some looked like a waste of money due to the inevitable ripped seam or slight tear grown larger by my body weight. (Hey, whoa, I’m not fat just grown.) Well recently my father brought home a simple net hammock* meant to be hung between two trees. For awhile it sat collecting dust because no one really knew how to hang it up. Out of sheer curiosity I brought it with me to my patch of woods along with a bundle of 550 paracord* and decided to give it a chance. Hanging it up was as an amateur job as they come. I simply wrapped the paracord around the tree a few times looping the end of the hammock through the rope and suspending it between two trees.
It looked good. The hammock sat under the shade of two oak trees and gently rocked in the breeze that meandered its way through the forest. I tested the hammock with my hands at first and it appeared safe enough so I sat down, straddling it between my legs and balancing to get my feet inside. With both legs in, I laid down.
The first thing I noticed was the hug. The hammock seemed to conform to and support all the arches on my body so there were no uncomfortable bumps or edges to deal with. If I sat or lay on the ground there would be plenty of sharp rocks or sticks to play like a bad masseuse on my back. In the hammock however I was well away from the ground. When the breeze came by, it flowed through the material and touched my whole body in a spreading coolness.
It only took a small push to get me rocking like a baby in a rocking chair. I was really enjoying this hammock. Shade, wind, birds, trees; this was really comfortable.
Since this small experience I always bring the hammock and test out features such as napping and book reading comfortableness(it’s definitely a thing). Both of which are awesome in a hammock.
My once closed eyes have been opened to the magic of the hammock in an outdoor setting and the market has now turned a new customer.
Think of a bed that fits in a backpack and can be set up anywhere there are trees. Sounds nice? That’s a hammock.
*550 Paracord– Parachute cordage that is sold as 550 paracord for its 550 pound breaking limit. The versatility in it for outdoor activities leads it to be one of my favorite ropes to carry in a bag.
*Net Hammock– Also called mesh hammocks, these types of hammocks are an open weaved style which allows for maximum airflow and are usually very easy to clean. These, in fact, can be made using 550 paracord using simple weave designs.