Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Brown winter, gray time, but days now get brighter




It’s a gray morning and the nights have been long. It’s been suggested that I am a poster case for passive-aggressive (negativistic) personality disorder and I tend to agree. The description of the affliction fits me. But I figure it’s because I haven’t been fishing lately. Further, on that:

I guess what you’d call “a long time ago” I lived in a 20x20 cinder block house on a sand farm. No rent; only the obligation to take care of four horses, flock of chickens, some geese, dog and cats. This was right around the forecasted end of the world ~2000. It happened that a guy I know had no home around that time, so he moved into the cinder block shack for a month or two. He slept on a mattress on the floor and almost every night he got up and turned the lights on at 4 AM and mixed a jug of orange juice. The notable thing though is that while he was there, he wrote a short essay on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD); aka winter blues, etc. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up." In other words, the jones for fishing can be strong, even if you don’t readily perceive it as an important cause of your grumpy state, negativity, bitching, moaning, blaming other people for things, pissing off everyone around you, yelling, losing your temper, etc. Maybe you’re thinking “let’s make up a syndrome for it” sure that sounds good like ADHD and all that. Acronym, etc. Well, whatever the case I think there is something to it. Because I am ornery and maybe moreso than usual. It is entirely possible that I am genetically predisposed to be grumpy. I’ll never know. But I do know that I don’t choose to be like this. It just happens. I should chart it; maybe it’s around this time each year. SAD indeed.

Maybe it has to do with the expectation that a person need just “accept” the busy-ness of being an American family in industrial society. Wake up, go to work, pluck at a fucking keyboard, come home, do the dishes, put the kids to bed, go to sleep, wake up, do the same. “Yeah, we’re busy. I guess we just have to get used to it.” Well, I have a response to that: BURN THAT SHIT IN HELL for all I care. I am not ready to sign over life to “being busy.” Not ready at all and I’d like someone to shoot me if I ever cave on that one. “Oh sure, no problem; I’ll be a shuttle service, dishwasher, wage-earner, that sounds fulfilling. Why not? Everybody is doing it.” To hell with that. Burn it in hell. Now if I were busy AT HOME, doing work at my home for the direct betterment of land, family, food, etc. that might be a different story (but then again, one always yearns for what one does not have, I understand this, but let me keep on that line). Example: last night I went outside and took a bow saw, and cut off some hunks of black walnut. Juglans nigra. Our family tree. We eat it. I cut off those hunks in the backyard, then used an axe and a maul to chunk off the outer wood and leave the black heartwood (splitting through the pith to allow for drying). I did this kneeling on the ground in my yard. Wearing a stocking cap. Silent night with no flickering death pixels to mar the vision. Then I took all the sticks and scraps that were stockpiled on a cement slab and built a bonfire. Lit it up and drank one single beer. That all took approximately 40-50 minutes. Afterward, I was ready to go. It can’t be explained fully, but generally I’d say it comes down to meaning: doing something meaningful in the world. With your family: even better. Another example would be walking a stream and looking at limestone outcrops. Or being in the middle of a spinner fall. Etc. With your kids: even better.

How many people could be screwed up because of disconnection with the real world? I’ll never know and neither will you. But I suspect it could be a lot. Go get some drugs, go see a counselor. Let’s check a couple possible scenarios/prescriptions:

(1) Okay, take these pills – they’ll make you forget about your horseshit state. And then go to a counselor and tell him about it.
(2) Son, the world isn’t wall paper. Put yourself in it and rid yourself of your disgusting, white, soft hands! Shoot the keyboard with a shotgun and we should be good to go. It’s not wall paper to frame your existence! It is your existence and if you’re not in it, well you’re not in it and that says it all.

I just can’t deal with the “You’re busy, you gotta accept it.” because I know that one day I’ll realize that it wasn’t right to be like that and I’ll be pissed about that chapter just like I’m pissed about a lot of chapters I look back on. That’s the tragedy: we have memories, and we tend to get better with age; thus, retrospect is always frustrating.

So tired of perceiving that fishing is thought of as a hobby. It’s not a hobby and it’s not a game. It’s a direct link to planet earth. It’s not a club you join and then quit. You don’t just decide “Well, I’ll be a fisherman now; maybe later I’ll stop.” That can burn in hell too. I’m tired of apologizing for and sometimes feeling guilty about fishing. You spend 98% of your time either at work or with your family. The 2% you spend on your own, maybe fishing, serves to make you a better man, a better family member and overall just better. Probably in ways you don’t even comprehend. What good would it do you to delete fulfillment from your life and thus become a worse person for it? And the answer is NO it’s not a choice to become a worse person for it. Plain and simple, some things impact people without consent or choice. If your buddy dies, you are sad. You don’t choose to be sad. You can tell people you are not sad and you can try to bury it but you are still sad. Likewise if you feel wronged by being chained to industrial society and banned from meaningful interaction with soil and water, that’s how you feel and the impacts of such a situation will shape you. And it won’t be a choice. You can try to bury it but the negativity and the depression will seep out or maybe disguise itself as some other ruinous embodiment of pain. Come on man, it’s not a choice. You can’t just say “Okay, I don’t need to fish anymore. Everything will be fine.” Destroying yourself is no favor to your kids.

Is anyone surprised that people are saddled with acronyms and plagued with dissatisfaction and murderous and propped up by drugs and television, when the majority of folks touch QWERTYUIOP etc. all day? We might as well admit that in many ways we have become lame.

Another installment in the flow of thoughts regarding how one can be better.




The Stolen Child, by W. B. Yeats

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand

The Fisherman, by W. B. Yeats

Although I can see him still—
The freckled man who goes
To a gray place on a hill
In gray Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies—
It's long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I'd looked in the face
What I had hoped it would be
To write for my own race
And the reality:
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved—
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer—
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.


Maybe a twelve-month since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face
And gray Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark with froth,
And the down turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream—
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, “Before I am old
I shall have written him one
Poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.”

12 Comments:

Blogger e.m.b. said...

I love Yeats, although sadly I lost my one book of his poetry in a fire, of sorts. And this: "It’s not a hobby and it’s not a game. It’s a direct link to planet earth." Damn straight. Profound piece....and I can't agree more that we have, as a society, become lame. Busyness and excuses and acceptance can all go to hell.

Amazing writing, Wendell.

3:39 PM  
Blogger John Montana said...

As always J...well done.

As for me, i would get great enjoyment out of sitting and listening to Wendy and EMB chat some day...i think we need to make this happen. Preferably on the banks of the Columbia River after a day of carping.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Ty said...

Read this one about ten times. Probably going to read it ten more times too. Erin nailed it - amazing writing. And she would know.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And the white breast
Of the dim sea
And all the dishevelled
Wandering stars.

Yeats. Best for lines in poetry, in English.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Some important notes here - thanks for checking in Ty - I need to look at Finewater more often.

What foul episode of fire would claim your poetry works? That's troubling.

Good thought re Columbia River carping - I'd be up for that.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Well said WB. You've echoed and articulated some of the same thoughts that I've struggled with. How to be a productive human in this world but still honor my urge to be in nature. Glad to know I'm not the only one. Thanks WB.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Ross Brecke said...

I actually feel better after reading that. I have a lot of the same thoughts and sometimes feel like there are not enough people out there who understand what you just put in words so well. I too have a family and really they are the only thing that keeps me grounded. In other words I would have dissapeared into the wilderness a while ago if I wasn't trying to support my family. So what do I do...I go fishing when I can and enjoy every last second of it when I do. I hope that someday the world realizes that there is no need for all the crap we put ourselves through. Society is lame so we must raise our children to be different.
I really enjoy your blog, thanks!!

5:12 PM  
Blogger Ross Brecke said...

I actually feel better after reading that. I have a lot of the same thoughts and sometimes feel like there are not enough people out there who understand what you just put in words so well. I too have a family and really they are the only thing that keeps me grounded. In other words I would have dissapeared into the wilderness a while ago if I wasn't trying to support my family. So what do I do...I go fishing when I can and enjoy every last second of it when I do. I hope that someday the world realizes that there is no need for all the crap we put ourselves through. Society is lame so we must raise our children to be different.
I really enjoy your blog, thanks!!

5:13 PM  
Blogger Ross Brecke said...

I actually feel better after reading that. I have a lot of the same thoughts and sometimes feel like there are not enough people out there who understand what you just put in words so well. I too have a family and really they are the only thing that keeps me grounded. In other words I would have dissapeared into the wilderness a while ago if I wasn't trying to support my family. So what do I do...I go fishing when I can and enjoy every last second of it when I do. I hope that someday the world realizes that there is no need for all the crap we put ourselves through. Society is lame so we must raise our children to be different.
I really enjoy your blog, thanks!!

5:13 PM  
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