August 1, 2010

The Frog

Do not be misled by what you see around you, or be influenced by what you see. You live in a world which is a playground of illusion, full of false paths, false values and false ideals. But you are not part of that world.
Sai Baba

The dark spot on the wall is not where it was several minutes ago, and upon closer inspection reveals itself to be a diminutive insect on a mission to get from wherever it came from to wherever it is going. Or maybe it is the wall that is moving...
I like to think the light at the end of my tunnel is real. I like to think that there will be significant reward should I finally determine that indeed that light is more than a one-dimensional illusion. So far I remain skeptical. A man much wiser than me has said that a frog's horizon as he lives at the bottom of a well will never be wider than the circumference of the well's opening to the sky above it.
I am the frog.
I like to think that the experiences of my life have deposited in my being a level of knowledge and possibly even some maturity commensurate with the number of years I have spent having these experiences; that this aggregate will be worth trading at some point, probably in the near future, for a modicum of enlightenment.
That's what I like to think.
Somewhere in the distance of a clear, cool morning I hear a child screaming his or her displeasure with the status quo. I have no idea as to what the specific grievance is, but it is obvious life has struck again, sticking a time-sharpened pin into another colorful balloon. The shrieks fade while the newest reality takes center stage for awhile.
Meanwhile the diminutive insect continues on.
The light I use at my tying desk provides me with full spectrum light, in order that the flies I construct will not change color when brought into the real light of day. Often, however, I am still amazed at the difference, and wish that the light I tie under could be the same light I fish with. It is somehow so much more vivid, revealing, but I know that I am not seeing that fly in the same way I saw it shortly after its creation.
I am the frog.

There is a slot of deep, fast water across the river from where I will periodically finish a day. I tend, whether by accident or by purpose I'm not sure, to end up there, swinging my soft hackles through the slow currents, pondering that slot as the declining angle of the setting sun lengthens the shadows. In my mind, as the years pass, that slot across the river grows in legend. It is well-protected by several old cottonwoods whose branches and young offspring combine to defend against any but the most determined efforts to reach that water. Never, in all the years I have come here have I fished it, but, never, in all those years, have I seen anyone else. After I've finished my day and climbed the hill, I'll turn to view that slot one more time, promising myself that tomorrow is the day. I've done that for close to twenty years now. The legend, the mystery, grows a little more.

There's a brutal little voice in my head. I've lived with it for a lifetime. It is quick to criticize, begrudgingly slow to praise. Success is a four-letter word called luck, no matter how practiced, how tested, the technique. Confidence is a short, illusory seizure followed by doubt and the driving urge to convince myself again, and again.
I try to figure it out.
The tiny dot on the wall nears the corner. The child is quiet. The light at the end of the tunnel is still there, but I'm no closer to understanding it than I was.
I am the frog.

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