“We’ve gotta take the power back!” “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!” When I was in high school, hearing those lyrics connected me to being righteous and being powerful in my life and with my actions. I would get fired up and feel the need to act. I don’t remember ever doing anything after hearing those songs but they generated an energy within me when I heard them. Now I think of those songs in odd moments. I relate to them now when someone makes a change in life, specifically their jobs or relationships. I feel a sense of people trying to gain their power when they feel powerless in life or a situation.
I had one of those moments recently. I spoke to a co-worker who was leaving to take another job. Those conversations are always a little interesting to me. I feel like they typically go one of two ways. One is the “great opportunity” pep talk. The other is the “so sad to leave but I wasn’t appreciated or I was wronged” monologue. I’ve been in the position to both look for that new opportunity and to hear lots of those stories. I’ve only had to tell someone to find a new opportunity twice. They were each very painful. In all those moments I am reminded of two commonalities about the people involved. Perspectives of different people are entirely different. And owning one’s personal intention and commitment is easy to rationalize away to make ourselves feel better. My mind goes to how people feel powerless or frustrated to try to change things in small ways, leading them to wait until the discomfort becomes so great that they assume the only remedy is to change their life in big ways, usually with limited options. We can’t find the words, we can’t create the action until we reach a tipping point where we can’t take it any longer. I have been there myself, feeling like a victim to my life or feeling like someone doesn’t recognize or appreciate who I am.
So how does this relate to fly fishing? Through my blog I try to connect to learning my life lessons through the actions, thought processes, and peacefulness of fly fishing. When I am fishing, the decisions I make are influenced by the experiences of my life. That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Should I change my position on the river, change my flies, or change the angles and locations of my casts? Those decisions, in a bigger perspective, are tied to how I perceive myself and how I want others to perceive me. Am I a person of action? How patient can I be? How committed am I? How can I bring myself to this moment? Those questions and more are all present for me as I fish. The YouTube videos of fly fishers walking upstream and catching fish in each run, the advice from friends on not leaving fish to catch fish, my past experiences fishing all are in my head when I fish. How do I make my decisions and own the results of those decisions?
This leads me back to “take the power back”. The decisions that I need to make when fishing need to have a basis for me to feel confident. Listening to a guide or a friend gives some safety and way out of our decision conundrum. When I am by myself, I am trying to keep my mind present to each moment when I fish. It’s very difficult to stay connected, but it’s where the power lies. Reading the water, observing movement of fish, making adjustments based on changing conditions, understanding my mindset and skills, and carefully moving all keep my mind focused. If I move a fish or catch a fish I am instantly rewarded, but if the effort produces no fish on the line, do I get upset, disappointed, frustrated or have regrets? There is something learned in each moment and there are so many things to learn. Being present to fishing, something that I look forward to and enjoy tremendously reminds me that I choose my movements, I choose my decisions, and there is no one to blame for my conditions other than myself. I have the power in each moment and don’t need to wait for a tipping point or a battle song. Although I have to admit that sometimes I am happy to have someone help my brain have a break from being self-responsible or to be lost in a moment with distraction. The lesson I am trying to learn is that I need to own my choices and see there is value in each moment regardless of the result matching my desired outcome. All the moments we experience are the most valuable things we have.