This is about as cool as it gets. When I saw this photo this morning on Facebook I wished I was back in Montauk and wondered if I would ever make it into a picture like this. These are Montauk's best fly fishing guides......and for a week I found myself in their company both in the bar and on the water. They are Jim Levison, Brian Goulart, John Tondra, Jason Dapra, Vinny Catalano, Brendan McCarthy, Paul Dixon, and Andrew Derr. Looking back, and especially after seeing this picture, I realized I didn't just go to Montauk to fish for albies and striped bass........I went to try and belong and fit into a picture like this. I also realize that even if I were to have stood in for the above pic, I, myself, wouldn't have felt like I belonged. That may be in my head, and it may be a little over analytical, mixed in with a little low self esteem and self worth, but that's how I feel.
Yes, I brought my boat up to "The End", fished pretty hard for a week, and caught and put some guys on some nice fish, but in the end could never enter the fraternity of Montauk guides, yet, because that comes with years of time on the water and back on the docks. Its also something that just evolves and happens, you can't force it or just arrive and try and be a part, and fishing is just a small part of it.
I had known these guys before I went out and they have always been great to me, and they were great out there, especially Jason Dapra, who continues to be out there fishing hard everyday. Since I have returned, work and fishing has been slow, my Friday boat trip for last week re-scheduled due to the poor fishing.....not that we have to catch....but I have done enough no-fish days with this client so we took a raincheck.
Since being back from Montauk I have done what I always do......walk and fish the beaches and rocks, usually alone, really not looking to catch a fish, but searching and "fishing" for something else. It's now I realize why I never really care about catching a fish, in fact, sometimes, the catching gets in the way. That above pic of the guys really moved me, made me realize one of the biggest reasons why I continue to want to guide and fish.....to be a part of something, to be accepted, to just be. But the funny thing is, I'm just using fly fishing as the vehicle in the search for the meaning of my life.
My life recently has been a series of ups and downs, some of which I have shared here on this blog. I am getting divorced from my second wife of four years. I live in a house by myself and am setting up my own house and new life. And, I have reconnected with a love from my past that has shaken my core and really put everything in my life into perspective.
As always I do a lot of deep thinking......and all of the things in my life, at this time, are coming together and finally making sense. That has been the culmination of years of good and bad decisions and choices, weekly therapy sessions, and self reflection and eye opening experiences like going to Montauk. My life is like the tide, I can't control it, it just ebbs and floods everyday.
So, maybe one day I will make it into that above picture, and maybe I won't, either way I will be okay. I am starting to feel okay in my own skin, wherever, and whoever I am with, and thats pretty cool.