“Great news! Your order has shipped!” These six words have become the lead of emails that grab my attention more than the vast majority of emails I receive. Even before COVID, but especially now, notification of an item I purchased being sent to me is very exciting, something to look forward to. The most recent notification I received was for a new fly line and backing for the reel I was fortunate to receive as a Christmas present.
A notification email is only words on a page, but it invokes anticipation and excitement. Clicking on the “track your package” button showed me the progress of the package, but still it was just words on the screen. Seeing the package from Orvis on the kitchen island confirmed that the words described actions. And my excitement paid off in the ability to put backing, fly line, and a leader on my new reel so I could hit the water yesterday.
Tracking the fly, indicator, or sighter builds anticipation while fly fishing. The path of the flies in the water column often works best as a dead drift, where the movement of the fly is entirely dictated by the movement of the water. Just as a natural food item becomes dislodged and is propelled downstream by the swirling water, the angler wants their fly to mimic natural food. Catching a fish is the package the angler wants to receive, and tracking the fly is the mechanism to observe your progression.
A natural drift can be difficult when you have a fly attached to a line, which is attached to a rod many feet away from the fly. Different current seams can push the line, generating forces that pull the flies in multiple directions. This creates drag and makes your fly move unnaturally. Often fish will ignore a dragging fly.
One of the great benefits of fly fishing for me is the ability to concentrate and clear my mind. The more I can concentrate, the more I observe and make adjustments to improve my drifts. These actions often result in catching more fish, learning more about the patterns and positions of the fish, and feeling good about myself through my time on the river.
Making progress and learning are the things I enjoy most. I think that’s why tracking packages is satisfying to me and also why concentrating on tracking flies helps me clear my mind. I’ve been able to write every day for over 90 days working toward finishing my book. There are days when I struggle to generate ideas, find time, and feel positive about continuing to work. Some days I can write a chapter in fifteen minutes, other days it takes three hours. But looking at the chart and checking off the progress to track the effort helps motivate me to keep going.
Looking towards the things I want to achieve in 2022 and beyond, I see that tracking my efforts is a key to pushing myself ahead. Without a way to assess progress and receive feedback, I struggle and my self-doubt grows. I want to be able to catch that fish and publish that book. I’m looking forward to sending an email that says, “Great news! My book has been published!” or “Great news! I caught a fish of a lifetime!”