31 December, the end of another ride around the sun. Driving home from Maine this afternoon gave me time to reflect on the year. 2017 came with loss and was a hard one to get through. The irony of loss is that with it, somewhere deep inside of the turbulence, eventually it gives you something. A greater appreciation for the past, a better understanding of the present, a new hope for the future. Every once in a while, in the glint of sunshine through the trees, through the fog rolling across the marsh, in the bright blue-green where the water rolls off the flats, there is a reminder that memories stay with us, life goes on and it's meant to be lived moving forward appreciating and accepting it all, the good and the bad, as it happens.
Half-way through the drive we stopped for coffee and I flipped on social media to see what I had missed. One of the feeds was loaded with people posting the "Best Nine of 2017." I contemplated jumping on board but as I kept driving I realized my "best" moments, images, memories - whatever, weren't captured by the lens, they were spent in the moment as they occurred.
Standing at the bar with people involved in the fly fishing business talking about what we do not for dollars and cents but for the moments and memories our products create because at the beginning and in the end, we are fly fishermen. Being alone deep in the marsh lost in the spaces between casts remembering moments in the past and imagining what might come next. Fishing a tournament on the Cape with my mentor and calling it early to share a whiskey or two over a burger and small talk. Pushing the canoe through the dark as my niece's boyfriend brought to hand what might be a fish of a lifetime and knowing as that fish swam away that no matter how we tell the story of the catch, no one else will ever understand what that moment was like. Watching from a distance as Jill dropped a cast into breaking fish to catch her first striped bass and knowing that the process of getting into place and making the cast would become more meaningful than the catch itself. Spending an afternoon fishing with my favorite writer casting at king mack's, stripers, bluefish and albies at our feet off the jetty without a single hookup and happily retiring to a bar to trade backstories and philosophies of life over ahi wontons and beers. Wandering the rivers and the marsh to the very end of the season in search of five more minutes of fishing and in the end, finding what I was looking for the whole time through my own reflection in empty water. That's what I do.
So as last year becomes this year, I say do what you do, when you can, as hard as you can, for as long as you can.
Get after it.
South River, MA
31 December 2017