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Can fishing add years to a person's life?

This is a piece I wrote several years ago. It still holds true today.

Everyone needs a place where they can reflect on life. A place that will strengthen their spirit and rejuvenate their soul. Such a place is known only in the heart. There are a few places like that for me, but the one that first comes to mind is the solitude of a mountain trout stream. 

As I cast a fly into the dark recesses along the banks and near deadfall trees, my mind wanders to days past. I think of all the great experiences I've had, and the people in my life who have inspired me. All that time, I wish I could get back. It does not really matter to me if a fish is hooked-- just watching them swirl and gawk at my offering gives me satisfaction, and is sustenance to my soul.

The aroma that comes from the surrounding forest and the the sound of rippling water gives me a deep feeling of peace and quiet joy, far beyond my comprehension. In the spring of the year, it's the new green on the trees and the flowering of plants that give me a glimpse of the goodness of God. In autumn, it's the musky smell of decaying leaves and the crispness of the mountain air. The Creator speaks to me through nature. I see his face sometimes in the swirling waters.

Fishing is more to me than the methods used and the number of fish caught. It goes so much deeper. Most of my fond memories as a child were somehow connected to the streams, rivers, and lakeshores of my youth. The water was also a refuge for me in my darkest hours. At times, such places were the only comfort I had. I felt a sense of belonging.

What intrigues me the most, is no matter what is chaos is going on in my life at any given time, as I peer into the water for a silvery flash under the surface, I forget about the whole world, even if for only a moment.

The mystery that lies around the next bend draws me like a bee to sweet nectar. I cannot resist the urge to venture farther and farther into a section of river that I have never fished before. What draws me is not merely a trout, because I have caught my share of them over the years. I suppose what draws me is the search. Exactly what I am in search of, I am unsure. Perhaps I am looking for more meaning, or a feeling of completeness. All I know is that when I leave this place and head back into the modern world, I feel as if I'm leaving something behind. Some unfinished buisness. Who knows if it will ever be finished. For my sake, I hope it will not be. How miserable it would be to for a man to know he had walked his last mile upstream, fought his last battle with the fish of a lifetime in the cool, clear waters that purify his soul.

So after all of this, the question still stands-- can fishing add years to a person's life? That I am unsure of, but I have experienced for myself over the years that it will add a quality to one's life like no other activity I know of. After all, what does the length of days mean unless they are well- lived?

Nature has a way of showing things to us. For some of us, it is seen as we stand in a river with a rod in our hands. A day spent fishing is never a day wasted, and at the end of life, I won't regret the time I spent, plying the waters for a richer life.


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