BassWestUSA - May/June 2009, Page 57

ointment on a massive gashing wound. You can’t say it made things better, but it did pro- vide a minimal degree of relief to a painful situation. I was not embracing the moment. I was not “right here right now” even as my co and I reeled in four pounders on a gorgeous spring day in April. The entire essence of my exis- tence remained bitter over day one (and the pre-fish days for that matter). I reveled in the past and obsessed over the fact that my day-two weight would not be enough to boost me into a check. Then there was the thought of the embarrassment of explaining my wretched finish to friends, family and those companies insane enough to actually be sponsoring me! GRRRRRR! Why was I doing this? I didn’t need this, I thought. I work my tail off 50-70 hours a week and deal with multitudes of stressful situations and now bass fishing had filled my vacation days with the same reality. What was going on? If you take your mind off of the present moment for even an instant, your ego will creep in and devour your happiness. And once that occurs you end up in a race you cannot win. I’ve been “learning” this lesson for a few years and it was never hammered home as wholly as it was between April and December of 2008. About six years ago I went on a guided fishing trip for my birthday. My business en- deavors had taken me to a new level of stress and intensity that regularly caused me to lose sleep, lose hair, get muscle twitches, and even heart palpations. It was not pretty but I was simply repeating the same pattern I’d exhibited in law school – an intense single-minded approach to achieving some earthly ego-based goal. In my youth and even up to law school, fishing had been a relaxing and fun escape enjoyed with friends and family. I needed that again and I would have it. To be sure, a weekend trip on Trinity Lake with Guide John Gray whole-heartedly refueled my love for the lakes and the bass. It was like a blessing from above. I began making time and regularly taking days out of the rat race in order to absorb the outdoors. But fun soon turned to challenge, enthrallment, obsession and then compul- sion. In April of 2008 I realized what I’d done. I’d turned fishing into work. It was another conquest I needed to “master.” And what if I did? Then what? What was the point? To put it simply, I stopped fishing in the “now” and began fishing for the future. It was no longer about enjoying the moment, the beauty, the fun, the laughs and the art and it was all about bolstering the expertise so that I could get better and conquer the fish and other fisherman. The ego was in control.

May/June 2009