Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Day 3: Visiting The Kids

20140515-222155.jpgToday we visited an organization that works with the children of trafficked women for the commercial sex trade. Academically our students are here studying the issue of human trafficking, especially how it relates to Southern Asia…

The place we visited was in the heart of the Mumbai slums red light district. This small school and night center provides what often makes up the only refuge that these children have from the conditions around them. About 60 children gathered to make Macaroni art and bead bracelets with us, from ages 4 to 16. Most had never seen a white person before… Let alone an American.

They laughed and played with us for several hours. When I was not looking, the children would sneak up to rub my cotton socks; as I was the only person from my group wearing them and these children wear sandals… if any shoes at all. They sang local children’s songs and tried to teach us to count in Hindi.

One young boy asked where I was from. When I said Nebraska, he asked “What is that by?” Thinking of the nearest place he might have heard of, even though it is no where close, I said Chicago. Again he looked at me and said “Where?” I broadened my statement and said “the United States.” He looked at me and said “Which continent is that on?”

These kids live with violence and danger on the streets, mothers trapped in human sex trafficking, and the majority have been victims of the most heinous of crimes. Despite this, they laughed and played not unlike any other child I have watched play at home. They were quick with a smile and eager to share India with us.

They got together in a large group and giggled as we danced the hooky-pokie together. Several of the older children to thank us and invite us to come back every year…

They don’t receive many visitors.

When we left the school, our tour took us on a quick walk around the block. As we tried to cross the main intersection to walk down a slum lane, a local cop monitoring traffic stop and would not let us travel down the lane because of the danger to us; even as he let local women and children run by.

The stares that we got from the locals seemed to pierce right through your skin. As we walked back to the bus, I felt as though any of the hundreds of men lining the street could have jumped us at any second. There eyes and their posture made it clear that we were not welcome in their neighborhood. Without a doubt the peril of this place far exceeded any where I had been before. In that moment the immense weight of danger and fear that these children endure everyday came crashing down upon my soul.

As we rode the bus back to the hotel, I pondered how humanity could allow children to live in such conditions and turn a blind eye to their plight. They are laughing, loving kids just like my daughter. When I returned to my room, I did the only thing a rational person could…

I cried.
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The weekend is coming… that means lots of time to hit the water!

It also means that I need time to fill the fly boxes! I usually take 5 different fly boxes with me to the lake. They are quasi-arrange based on the type of fish they are intended for and by which fly rod would cast them best; the 3wt, 5wt, or 8wt rod.

Since there are so many different situations that I could find myself in on Nebraska waters, I normally have between 300-400 flies with me on a trip. Excessive? Yes. But it does make for some pretty fly boxes. One of my immediate goals is to catch a Master Angler Bluegill (10 inches), Crappie (15 inches), or Largemouth Bass (20 inches) on a fly. And you never know what it will take to get on of these monsters to bite…

The variety of flies used is a big attraction to the sport for me. Then you start making them yourself… and eventually you end up with boxes full of your own flies.

Fly fishing is about observation; and taking the little details you observe to make the proper fly selection and presentation at exactly the right moment. Fly fishing has taught me to slow down, look around, and appreciate exactly how amazing everything little detail in life is… right down to the tiny flies crammed into a box…

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“The solution to any problem–work, love, money, whatever–is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.” ~John Gierach, Standing in a River Waving a Stick

Little E and I got out of the house this morning and spent a little time at Holmes Lake. I brought the fly rod out with me and tried to doing a little fishing as she played in the sand. Tried being the key word… I only got about 10 or so casts in before Little E demanded that she “do it”. After a couple of times of her driving my rod tip into the water, I decided that it was time to move on to the jungle gym and other 2 year old appropriate activities. Who knew that a two year old lacks the coordination, precise timing, and patience that casting a fly line from 9 foot pole requires?

Any time on the water is good time. Especially if I can share it with Little E… even if it was only a few minutes. To be honest, I got more casts in then I thought I would…

Starting this blog has given me the opportunity to start to realize exactly what it is that drew me to fly fishing. By trying to write about fly fishing, I have had lots of thoughts pass through my mind. About why I started, why I keep doing it, why I am hopelessly addicted to it.

When I started, I thought I would write all about the actual fly fishing… the technical details, what the fish are biting on, what works and what doesn’t, etc. But that is not my voice. You see, I am probably best classified as an “intermediate” fly fisherman. I’m good but not great; I still have lots to learn. If I tried to write about the technical aspects, I would fail miserably… because I am still learning them myself. The process of learning the sport could be compelling subject to write about, and I probably will; but if you are looking for anything more then how to get started in the sport, you are in the wrong place. There are plenty of good “how-to-fly-fish” blogs on the internet, many of which I follow.

What I have recently realized while on the water is that the art of fly fishing mirrors my personality… it’s artistic, a little bit eccentric, complex, beautiful, simplistic, and difficult all at the same time… It’s best performed in solitude; yet in doing so it attracts the attention anyone who sees it. It requires observation, patience, contemplation, constant attention, mental toughness, stealth, and the ability to spring into action at exactly the right moment.

For me it is also an escape…

I have not had the easiest of lives. My life is great now… I have a loving wife, beautiful daughter, great career, and a supportive family. But it was not always like that. I have had to overcome some tough challenges in my life… the scars from which I still live with to this day… and continue to challenge me…

Fly fishing gives me the chance to escape from everything… to clear my mind… to become one with nature… to feel like an alpha predator and to realize how small I am compared to existence all at once…

Fly fishing is magical, and it does have an aura about it that is challenging and comforting at the same time. It gives me incredible insights into my life and experiences… and has an uncanny ability to highlight the highs, and the lows, of my life…

The reason why I was drawn to creative writing in college was that I discovered writing has powerful ability to act as a release… a pressure release value for my emotion. Fly fishing gives me the ability to capture those emotions; and over the last month, I have discovered this blog has been great way to release them.

Until I started this blog, I had written almost nothing in the last three years. Someday I would like to write my memoirs. And his blog is empowering me to write again. Hopefully it will not be too long before I can put a pen to paper and start to document all the ways in which I “Fly Over Nebraska”… How fly fishing helps me do it… and everything in between. That is what I want this blog to be about.

I wish I would have known about the John Gierach quote at the top of the post sooner… He is spot on… and since I have only been fly fishing for two years, I have a lot of catching up to do!

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5 years ago today, one of the two best things that has ever happened in my life took place… my wife walked down the aisle at our at our wedding.

She has been the biggest influence on my life. She also “tolerates” my addiction to fly fishing… and many other annoying habits that I have.

She is truly the most amazing woman I have ever met.

Happy anniversary sweetheart!

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So, apparently after you volunteer for one fishing tournament, your name must go on a list that goes out to anyone else looking for volunteers…

This weekend I volunteered to help with the Cornhusker State Games shore fishing tournament at Holmes Lake. If you can’t tell from the picture, I got to walk around and measure fish. Their were medals for the largest catfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass.

At one point, I got down on my knee to measure a fish and sat on my muddy shoe to balance myself. When I stood up, I tired to wipe the mud off my rear end with my hand… which only smeared it. I walked around with a muddy hand print on my butt for most the day.

I jokingly told my co-worker who talked me into helping that I wasn’t there because I was nice… I was there so I could see how everyone else was catching fish, what they were biting on, and where they were biting at. A little undercover reconnaissance… Worms and corn seemed to work the best. Both under a bobber and off the bottom with a split shot or two. I have some ideas for some flies now…

The fish bite was a little slow, but I did get to see a couple nice largemouths; and a 9-10 year old kid caught a nice 24 inch catfish at the very last second to win the catfish division. And he put it back in the lake after a picture. I love seeing big fish go back in the water…

I spent time with the family of the kid who caught the catfish; telling them what I knew about the lake, teaching them a little bit about bluegills, showing them my homemade flies, and helping them to remove hooks from the bluegills they caught.

One of the bluegills that they caught took a hook pretty deep; but I managed to dig it out with my hemostats. Most people just toss these fish back into the water carelessly, but I walked this little guy to the water and gently set him in. He must have been a little bit disorientated because as soon as he hit the water, he swam the wrong way and beached himself on the shore. I waded through the shin deep mud, picked it up, took it back out to the water, and spent a couple minutes reviving the little guy. Eventually he took off under his own power and headed for deep water…

I waded out of the mud and hopelessly tried to clean some of the mud off my shoes and legs. I surrendered to the mud after a few seconds and accepted the fact that it would dry to my skin until I could get home to shower. It didn’t think anything of the whole experience; it’s just want I would consider an expectation of fishing. The mother of the family looked at me said “All of that to save a little bluegill? You really enjoy fishing.”

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This picture of Little E made me think about why I love the outdoors…

I have this conversation with a co-worker of mine a lot. She is a globe trotter; and loves to travel to destinations all over the world. She has great pictures of herself in famous places; and the wonderful things she’s seen. To tell you the truth, it is very impressive.

She tries to convince me that I should go overseas too… I would if offered a free trip… but I like finding beautiful things in my own backyard.

I know that my friend finds Nebraska beautiful too, so this is not any dig at her…

I was able to spend some time the last couple weekends at some fly fishing shops and a couple of different Cabela’s stores. Whenever I go into an outdoor store, I love seeing the trophy pictures from patrons and staff, the native aquariums, and the taxidermy displays. Cabela’s does a great job of featuring native animals in their stores, and seeing the trophies that came from my own backyard is amazing to me. My daughter loves to see them as much as I do, and gets so excited to see them. She will make moose antlers at the moose, fish faces at the aquarium, and growl at the lions.

To the side is the world record for the largest typical mule deer. In addition to fly fishing, I do some deer hunting in the fall and turkey hunting in the spring. I vastly prefer fishing, mostly because I can release the fish unharmed (catch and release a topic for another post); but I am not opposed to the harvest of fish and game. One on the most exciting things about hunting for me is seeing the deer/turkey approach. Every time there is a feeling that my heart is about to jump out of my chest. I can only imagine what it felt like when the mule deer above came into sight.

That is what I love about the outdoors. You never know what will walk out of the woods or be at the end of your line. Seeing the pictures, trophies, and aquariums of the local animals helps keep me going. Seeing the amazing animals that people have found within a drive of my backyard, and knowing that every time I go out into the field I might be next one to snag a trophy is half the fun.

I don’t know what it is like to look up at the Eiffel Tower, but I do know what it is like to catch a trophy fish, or see a huge deer run out in front of me… and all in my own backyard. I have the same gitty reaction that Little E does in Cabela’s… and it takes all my effort to remain clam and perfectly still… and keep my heart from beating out of my chest…

Nature is awesome…

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“… to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” –Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

It looks like you can take revenge on nature…

How do you like them apples, frog?

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