It’s extraordinary to think there are people out there who are yet to discover a passion, something to sink their teeth into and to evoke a sensation of desire. Who are unable to even contemplate enjoyment to a level that most of us take for granted. Depression, it seems, has the ability to push everyday humans to their limits and beyond, to the absolute depths of despair. With Mental Health Week starting on the 5th October 2014 here in Australia, I thought it would be appropriate to raise awareness and offer a small step toward solace, in the form of an escape, like fly-fishing.
Fly-fishing itself is good for your soul. More importantly, it has the potential to offer so much more. While there are many reasons that anglers choose to fly-fish, an enormous element revolves around the opportunity to be at one with nature, while taking a breath of fresh air. The water running around you, trickling, bubbling and constant. An instant calming effect that draws you nearer, to immerse yourself in it and follow its path. Bird song fills the air, echoing upstream as an intermittent cacophony of cicadas, crickets and frogs join in the chorus as a distant bleating cow rudely interrupts, prompting a smirk. Curious platypus circle at your feet as the trout and swallows compete in feasting on the short-lived mayfly. A feeding wombat nibbles grass nearby, undeterred by your ability to be part of the landscape. It lifts its head occasionally, just to be sure that the long stick you’re waving isn’t intended for it and just to be sure, encourages the joey in its pouch to take a gander. A pair of wedge-tailed eagles keeps an eye on the whole scene from above, soaring effortlessly in the updrafts as the crown of the gum tree sways back and forth.
As you lift your rod in slow-motion, you cast…. back, forth, back forth and release, laying your fly on the water so delicately you almost fooled yourself that it was a real insect. Along with it, you release all that was troublesome as you bear your soul to the environment, just as generations past have been doing for hundreds of years, as we were meant to be; wild, free and alive. Your heart beats rhythmically and suddenly ups a notch when a snout appears at your fly, engulfing it completely. Instinct kicks in and you lift your rod, connecting you to the fish and the fish to the world. Thoughts of negativity are lost in oblivion as you and the fish do battle. The to-and-fro brings excitement. You won. You bring the colourful trout to hand, admire its patterns, red, black, golden and utterly unique. You ponder of its fate; should you provide for your family? Do you actually need to harvest the trout? The fish is gasping for air as you consider your options. The fish eyeballs you and you, it. You realise that life is precious and and extract your fly to carefully revive it back in the water, to go about its business the way it was before you met. You stand up, satisfied, then smile and it dawns on you that you have just revived yourself. That your life too, is indeed precious. That you also can go back to your life and go about your business as you were before, but feeling a hell of a lot better. Improved, enhanced and content.
It may not heal everything nor cure your disease, however, fly-fishing is good for your soul.
Angler: Andrew Howell
Photo: Paul Anderson
Text: Brendan Turriff