Saturday, late morning, I was preparing my truck to leave to go fishing, loading up the waders and boots, and adding the flies I tied over the week to my fly boxes. I checked my extra pair of socks and my foot warmers. Having numb feet gets old pretty quickly!
I was excited to fish in the snow and get some good photos for my blog. There is something about fishing in the snow that makes me feel like I’ve earned each fish to the net even more. I had a slow deliberate pace to my preparation. I wanted to be prepared for the cold conditions.
I said goodbye to my wife and hit the road. As usual, I started to daydream and get into a contemplative state as I drove into Pennsylvania. Looking back into 2020, it was a difficult year and my family and I were very fortunate. We all remained safe, healthy, and employed. A song came on the radio that caught my attention: “Starting Over” by Chris Stapleton.
The song has a calm and hopeful vibe with a lyric that struck me: “…nobody wins afraid of losing.” I ended up looking up the song and listening to it several times as I approached the Yellow Breeches. The lyric was a reminder to me of being proud of overcoming my fear of sharing my personal thoughts through my blog. I also hesitated to share because I felt like an imposter about sharing my observations on fly fishing. After all, I definitely don’t feel like an expert. Writing my blog over 2020 ended up being a bright spot and cathartic exercise in a stressful year.
If I was too afraid to lose, I would not have started my blog, and I may not have started to fly fish years ago. Here is the section of the song that most inspires me:
“Starting Over” by Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson
This might not be an easy time
There’s rivers to cross and hills to climb
Some days we might fall apart
And some nights might feel cold and dark
When nobody wins afraid of losing
And the hard roads are the ones worth choosing
Some day we’ll look back and smile…
On December 23, 2019, I posted my first blog on FlyFIshMend. Starting on January 19, 2020 I began writing and posting blogs each week. This is my 51st blog since that first blog. I started with a backlog of ideas, and in the few few months, I transitioned to jotting down ideas through the week, fine-tuning an idea on Saturday (sometimes into Sunday), and completing my blog each Sunday. Each week I was starting over to generate new ideas and articulate my message. My wonderfully supportive wife has helped me review and edit each post, unless I was working too late into the night.
The habit and pressure to finish the post has helped me to develop discipline and commitment to myself. I’ve gained connections to supportive people in the fly fishing industry and learned so much. Each effort and connection has improved my confidence and my appreciation of my life. Prior to starting the blog, I was reluctant to share my ideas on fly fishing publically, feeling like my input as a novice angler wasn’t worth sharing. In 2020, my blogs were read over a thousand times and people in 5 countries have read my blogs. That is humbling.
The blog has helped me improve my ability to observe and communicate. Perspectives from folks like Jason Shemchuk from WadeOutThere whose motto is Go. Learn. Teach. has helped me to expand my observations and confidence to share. Steve and Dave from Two Guys and a River also provide inspiration and guidance for my fishing and my blog. Support from Scott Major at PA Woods N Water and Mike Slep at Tight Lining MD has encouraged me to keep working to improve.
As I look toward 2021, I am going to continue my weekly blog, and I want to write a draft of a book by the end of the year. I am facing the same fears of doubting my value and my effort. Facing that fear and knowing that the effort is its own reward is what I’m holding on to. Each one of us has something unique and valuable to share. I urge each of you to let go of the fear of losing and commit to the effort and belief to win. As Chris Stapleton sings, “the hard roads are the ones worth choosing, someday we’ll look back and smile.” Bring on 2021!