Getting recognized for a promotion or accomplishment is something I have typically looked forward to. As I have grown older and learned more, the recognition I have felt I deserved and have received has come with an unpleasant underbelly that I didn’t see in my youth or when I set a goal. At work, the goals of getting an office, promotion, pay raise, winning a proposal, etc. created something for me to achieve. When I reached the goal I had moments of pride but twinges of disappointment and loss crept in and stole the moments. The effort, the camaraderie, the vision and the grind, the late night dinners, the “ah ha” moments along the way, those were the rewards. The motivation of an ego accomplishment has all those benefits that I was blind to in the moment. The recognition carries comparison to others, measuring my accomplishment, jealousy, division among the team and my peers, and the effort seems diminished and I feel a loss of what built the moment. But without the acknowledgment do I have resentment? How do I keep present to the joys and moments of the day to day effort? Being mindful of the ego battle could bring a peace of the heart and mind to the moments that I appreciate in the long run. Even the idea of being more mindful feels like I am setting a goal for myself. When I really look inward, the things I want are to be seen, to be heard, and to feel good about my effort. None of those acknowledgments need the achievement of the goal to be celebrated.
Fly fishing requires a mindful presence to each moment. The casting requires repetition, body control and concentration. Watching the fly, strike indicator, or leader to see any deviation in movement requires acute concentration. Determining if the movement is a rock, log, drag requiring a mend or a fish eating the fly requiring a set takes split second decision making, intuition and experience. My time on the river calms my mind through the repetition, concentration, the beautiful surroundings and the reminders and rewards of the fish. The time on the river mends me from the scars of the ego battle and helps me to see the beauty of each moment. In the beautiful settings where trout live, I feel like the level of internal competition to always catch a fish, or to improve my technique, or to catch the largest fish possible is dissipated. Of course I still always want to improve, but recognizing my great fortune to have time to fish and to enjoy nature, combined with the focus needed to concentrate on the elements of fly fishing help me to forget about the ego battle for a while.