Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fishing for Imperfection

By Bob Ferris
“Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.”  From Wikipedia definition of Wabi Sabi.
The Mother's Day mother as we called this fish caught in the
Mad River Valley near Yestermorrow Design/Build School that
I once ran and where I learned the term wabi-sabi.
I love to fish, but I am a little wabi-sabi about it.  That is to say my goal in this pursuit is not perfection.  I do not have to have the smoothest cast or the best gear.  My attire does not have to be coordinated or even appropriate.  I fish because I enjoy it and because it is one of the areas of my life where I am away from deadlines, harsh criticism and acrimony.

That is not to say that there is not inherent tension of a sort.  After nearly 50 years of fly fishing I am still puzzled by how knots get in leaders through the simple act of tossing a bug through the air.  I am also likely to reach too quickly for a sharp object when tangles prove complicated and waters wait—there is no Zen for me in the conquering of mono-filament wanting to become one with itself.  And I grow increasingly frustrated as my eyesight fails and I start picturing myself having to carry something akin to the Hubble telescope and a search light to successfully thread those teeny tiny patterns.

I fished a section of the Rogue last year where my flies were much more amenable to roosting in trees and bushes than going for a swim where they were needed most.  In all of this I will freely admit that I read Joe Brooks as a kid and studied the diagrams, but mainly to no great avail.  I still cast the way I always have and frequently beat the water as if it just got caught throwing spit wads at school (I even have video, see above).   But that is okay, it is all part of the joy of the uncorrected roughness and imperfection—perhaps even rebellion—of the way I fish.  

My favorite settings to fish and perhaps a metaphor for my life: 
Trying to find the one square foot of calm on the edge of chaos.
It is not all that complicated, I simply enjoy getting out there and learning new waters and new techniques.  That is as long as I do not have to be too good at what I do and perfection is not expected.   So if you see this guy out there who seems to be struggling and it turns out to be me, please don’t feel obligated help me start my cast at 1 o’clock rather than 2 or read the riffle with a better and more knowing eye.  I am fine just the way I am.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Bob. How refreshing it is to read about someone who enjoys an endeavor without the pressure of doing it perfectly or having all the "right stuff."