With all of the change and transition occurring in my life right now, I saw it fitting to bring back the first post I ever wrote on this blog. I'm going old school on you mo fos... Enjoy!
Change is a funny thing. It is as ambiguous as it is direct and final. It is a process that can be out of our control but can also be chosen. It can have positive or negative effects on our lives and it can be feared or embraced. Individuals react to change differently, which is why each of us are able to carve out our own unique path and the different experiences we encounter. In fly fishing, change never sleeps. The river lives and breathes and is in a constant state of motion, never seizing, relentless. We, as fisherman, must embrace the change laid out before us and adjust, knowing that failure will always linger, but serve as the all-knowing teacher of veracity and adaptability. It is change that keeps the fire within burning strong. It keeps us driven and coming back for more even if we are continually humbled by Mother Nature’s intricacies.
But, change soars well beyond the confines of the river’s edge. It is easy to see why change can be terrifying. The type of change we cannot control haunts every one of us. It is the shadow we will never escape, looming in the distance until abruptly masking our lives with blinding pain and sorrow. From the worldly effects of war and terror to the more personal (and often most difficult) effects of depression, divorce, unemployment, foreclosure, sickness and death, change can often be a dish served cold and bitter. Having experienced most of these already in my life, it is easy for me to understand why we as a society strive to remain stagnant, stuck in a rut of insecurity and fear of the unknown. We are concerned not only about the pain in our own lives, but the effects of our decisions on the ones we love most. Many choose to remain still, paralyzed by the fear that their insignificant ripples may spread and develop into capsizing swells of emotion.
For many people, however, change is a welcomed part of life and sought after. Without change, life for these individuals is left bland and fruitless. Curiosity and adventure rule their decisions with very little regard to consequence or expectation. There is a willingness to live life on the edge, try new things, to take the leap of faith with no comprehension of who or what is there to catch them other than hope and the inability to accept failure.
I somehow straddle the line between the yin and the yang of change. I have always looked to broaden my range of experiences whether it is trying new foods, traveling, learning new hobbies or dedicating my life to a specific skill. I more recently have ditched a devout path towards medicine, pointed my compass west and enjoyed three years of Montana living only to get hired a year later as a fly fishing guide in Colorado. What I have discovered about myself is that I love the results and rewards that change creates. However, as much as I need change in my life, I do dread the transitional process involved. My moves from Wisconsin to Montana, from Montana back to Wisconsin and now from Wisconsin to Colorado each initially left me feeling alone and overwhelmed by doubt and emotion. I understand and anticipate the benefit and growth that will result from the process, yet I am abandoning everything that is good about the life I have previously known. Why do I choose to continually leave, especially when it means leaving my family that I need by my side? What is it that is driving me to desert the security of the present and seek the unknown future? Curiosity is a difficult beast to tame.
At this stage of my life, I refuse to not take advantage of my youth and settle. There are too many stones that are unturned in my life to allow myself to ignore what it is that calls to me. I don’t want to be the man looking back on his life with regret wishing I had done things differently. I have decided to take the path that my gut has dictated and embrace the changes, good and bad. “What if?” can only be answered by exploring what it is in question and hoping for the best. As we wade through turbulent waters, we can be blinded to the possible stepping-stones laid before us. If we cannot dedicate our focus toward the other shore with a certain excitement, dedication and optimism, we risk being swept away by the relentless currents of negativity, further keeping us from reaching our lives’ true potential.