Friday, August 3, 2012


Bassin on the Colorado River, TX

Sir Isaac Newton's third law of motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So it is with the art and science of fly casting. The casting motion consists of a backcast and a forward cast. The backcast causes the fly rod to bend (or "load") and store energy which is released on the forward cast, propelling the fly toward the intended target.

A few years ago I was part of a group of fly casters mentored by the late Al Crise, Texas' own master fly casting instructor and southern gentleman. I spent a weekend at his ranch taking part in a workshop for prospective fly casting instructors. Truthfully I was more interested in learning how to become a better caster, and figured the best way to do so was to prepare to teach others.

I didn't complete the course of studies to become an instructor, but I learned a lot. Much of that learning came from interacting with the online study group Al formed. There were some really sharp people in that group, like Bruce Richards. Bruce was head of flyline development for 3M until his retirement in 2009. Bruce had some fascinating insights into the physics of the cast based on his decades of experience. It was pretty nerdy stuff, but always interesting.

In order to have a fly casting stroke, there must be a fulcrum of sorts; i.e. the caster. He is not in the backcast or the forward cast  strictly speaking. But his actions both influence each half of the cast, and the caster himself is influenced by the motion of the cast - his arm absorbs some of the energy form the loading and unloading of the rod.

Yesterday I awakened from a dream so real that several minutes elapsed before my mind could differentiate between the conscious and the subconscious. In the dream I was having a conversation with my daughter about her life and all the things that happened when she was a little girl. We were looking though a photo album that documented major and minor events of those years. But rather than merely looking at a still photo, when we turned the page we actually were drawn into those moments in time when the photo was taken,. In that instant we traveled to her thirteenth birthday. In the next instant we were in the back yard on Easter while she and her sister sat for pictures in the Texas bluebonnets. We entered into the events and played our parts as if it were a movie...yet it was real.

When I came fully awake, my throat was tight with emotion, as it is even now as I write this. I vividly remembered the laughter and tears, joy and guilt that come with being a father - feelings often pushed aside in the rush of the day to day responsibilities we all shoulder.  I desperately wanted to return to my slumber, back to that dream world where all was as I wished it to be. But it was gone.

Then in a moment of clarity I realized - those memories - they are my backcast. I do not exist there, nor to I exist in the future. I exist only in the moment as a fulcrum; my backcast behind and my forward cast to come. The memories store up energy for my soul, to be released as I step into the next unknown.

Wouldn't it be prudent of me to continue to build those precious and valuable memories today? Loading the rod of my inner man with the stored power to propel me ever forward?

I hope tonight to return again to that world where all is good and safe and right - perhaps a foreshadow of things to come. I cannot control my dreams, but I can choose to make daily choices that give me the memories for those dreams.


Anonymous said...

Being quite philosophical aren't you? I am sure you have been a good dad. Lucky girls.

Mark said...

Hey Swittersb, thanks for visiting. Yeah, I do that from time to time...its kind of how I am wired I think. That and being the son of a pastor gives me a lot of grist for the proverbial mill ;-)