A famous philosopher, I believe it was George Santayama, once said that friends are friends in spots. Which is, in my interpretation, that we share only a small piece of our complex selves with others, and that for friends there must be a significant piece that is shared. Of course even with friends there are gradations of this as well. At the very least a friendship must extract good humor from the participants. At its best, friendship is a synergistic, creative enterprise, wherein we feel ourselves grow in enthusiasm and interest, not just toward the other person but also to the surrounding world. Fatigue and boredom have very little to do with true friendship. The other interesting phenomenon to me is that, despite our best efforts, sometimes friendships just plain end. The elements of the other person that drew you to them, attenuate or change or, perhaps you do, without really fully appreciating it, until the distance seems great. I've had that happen a few times, usually with respect to friends made when I was younger and which time and experience bore down on, like water on rock, and changed the flow.
I'd like to think that when it comes to fishing partners certain common elements find each other. I suppose shared obsession isn't too strong a word insofar as having the interest in getting out on the water goes. Curiosity toward the natural world, having a naturalist's eye, to put it another way, also seems a common denominator. Patience with the process, but exasperation with failure; these two create the fine line. I don't like to get skunked and I will fight it like a puppy on a short leash, but sooner or later we must all become philosophical and accept that our best efforts fall short from time to time. I suppose that doesn't mean we don't feel shortchanged when we have arisen at 4:30 am and found that the best pre-dawn opportunity amounts to zippo. Still we did put ourselves in the way of opportunity, which is more than ninety percent of our fellow humans do, and should feel gratified about it. I am reminded of that feeling when I am loading the boat back on the trailer at 9am after five hours on the water and others are just arriving. Usually I know what they missed.
So I am blessed to have many very good friends, with countless accumulated shared hours with them on shore or on boat. I see many fish in my mind's eye, some of the best of them I never had the pleasure of bringing to my hand. They remain captured in memory and in the stories we swap among ourselves. Even when casting to spotted fish cruising the shallows, at the back of my mind I know how transitory the experience will be, even as I live in the moment. The visual stays with me and is reinforced by the presence of a fishing companion. Our friends make these brief moments of sublime pleasure remain solid far into the future; they provide us with the pinch to the flesh that, yes, that fish was real.
For those of you who know of what I say, enjoy your friends. For those with whom I have had the pleasure of spending many a moment of true joy, I thank you and look forward to our next adventure.
2 years ago