The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
There is, happily, no happy ending. It goes on and on. Seldom, if ever, is a point of stasis attained, or even sought. Pleasure is pure but fleeting; weaned from passing moments, promontories. The real, lasting joy is found in the reward of the constant movement; not letting, or allowing, one's proverbial boots to get 'stuck in the mud'. There is but one thing that will never change, and that is the need, the necessity, for change, and the ability to do so. It is my passionate belief that here is found the truest and simplest, but most powerful form of gratification.
When applied to tying flies for trout, this philosophy trumps all others. I suspect that it probably works well in life, too and I promise to try it some time in the future, maybe after I am no longer able to tie flies with which to fish for trout. And that's the trouble with getting too philosophically inclined. I'm liable to overstep my short-sighted bounds, somebody's eventually going to take notice, and call me on it.
I'm not really sure that 'progress' is a good word to attach to the expanse of time I've spent tying. In some ways, I've 'progressed' very little in the past several years, and in others, I feel quite the opposite. But generally, as I take an overall unbiased look at the body of work I've amassed at the vise so far, I come away feeling pretty good about it. And that has a lot to do with not being afraid to experiment a little, now and then. Sure, I could've spent some of those hours perfecting some of the hundreds, nay thousands of various techniques that I may or may not ever employ, but I find that the growing body of tying know-how I've accumulated to this point not only serves me well for my current needs, but is a solid foundation making it much less time-consuming should I, when I decide to add some new wrinkle to my repertoire, or tool box.
I think back to those years I spent at the shop. I know I've mentioned this in earlier posts so bear with me while I boast one more time, but The Blue Dun Fly Shop had, without a doubt, the most quintessential collection of fly-tying materials. We were unsurpassed as far as selection and quality were concerned. Fly-tiers came, e-mailed, and called from all over hell to purchase you-name-it-we've got-it and if we don't we'll get it for you ASAP. All three of us at the shop had a passion for tying, and our individual interests covered everything from saltwater to fresh, be it moving or still, tropical or subarctic. We figured that between us, we had close to seventy-five years worth of fishing/tying experience. We loved playing with it all; the new stuff that would constantly arrive and the old standards, exploring all of the possible applications, combinations and tendencies so we'd be better able to showcase them should a customer have questions. It was a time of exponential growth as far as my tying skills were concerned. I was in heaven. Imagine, being paid to do that! And, I learned how to do things then that have served me quite well ever since.
But, it's what I've learned since then that has allowed me to really grow both as a fly tier and fisherman. It's got nothing to do with tying or fishing. It has everything to do with what I've learned about myself.
I'd like to think that we are all as passionate about those things in our lives that drive us, that we all have things in our lives that drive us. I'd like to think that part of the magic in whatever it is that drives us lies in its never-ending ability to fascinate, to pull us in, closer, and in that spirit our exploration becomes the drug of choice. The journey we take in this direction sharpens the senses, hones our tools, and presents us with new sets of opportunities to add experience, thus more tools to our boxes. And, as some of us have learned, they serve us well for far more than what we originally thought.
This curiosity, this unceasing pull to understand, is at the core of my growth. It is the engine that drives me. It is the reason I tie flies. It is the reason I have such an undying passion for fishing with flies. And, most importantly, I discover over and over, in its power to continually pull me in different directions, an irresistible, yet delightful force. I welcome it with open arms, believing not for a second that I will ever attain such a place as to know that I am closer than before, and that's okay. I'm okay with that, and the reason I am is that I firmly believe, now more than ever, that the strongest magic truly is revealed in the journey, and not in the attainment.
And so I will go. Change is good. There will always be a space in my box for the classics. But they are someone else's epiphany. I will continue to seek my own. There will be setbacks. How can there not be? After all is said and done, the trout have the final say.
They make all the rules.