Every life experience either teaches us something or gives us a clearer view of ourselves. Self judgments often rise up and fall into the haze of these experiences. Who is to say what the value of each experience really is, but as time marches on we compile a complex assortment of experiences that make us who we are and what we are. Now and then an experience catches me off guard and my reaction will surprise me.
For five years I have ask my GLB (Great Liberal Brother) to come along on a nine day fishing trip I take each April. I have been criticized by many for my timing of this trip because the fishing is tough, the weather is unpredictable, the water is cold and even a month later all conditions improve drastically. As an example, on these trips we may experience snow, sleet, soft rain, hard sideways rain, pelting rain, wind without rain, below freezing cold, and wonderfully now and then that wonderful weather – sunshine with no wind. So, why April you ask, it is simple, few people are there. The regular fishing season that brings the throngs of folks from far and near that suffocates the area starts the last weekend of April and I do my best to avoid the spectacle.
When my brother told me he was coming this year, a pressure began to build in my subconscious. He would be traveling over 2,500 miles at a significant cost and time. As you all know I have a tendency to embellish a story now and then. I wouldn’t admit to outright exaggerating or straight out lying but you all know most of our stories are really not that interesting unless certain parts are given a floral sparkle. So as you read on about my neurosis and begin to think I am crazy, my defense will be, it’s floral sparkle.
As I prepared for this trip along with my GLB’s attendance, my mind rushed back trying to exhume past renditions of these trips that I had told my GLB. That is the trouble with stories in the past, they are so hard to remember, let alone the floral sparkle. I guess the real question is, what was my GLB’s expectation? Expectations as you know can be fatal and at a minimum lead to real disappointment.Naturally I ask myself, what would Michael Scott from the “Office” do in such a situation? I could not come up for certainty his exact response so I pulled from past Grayquill efforts to get out of a fix and that was equally useless. Granted I did not know if I was in a fix but one can never be too careful – right? Lowering expectations for sure seemed prudent. That thought resulted in a phone call to GLB. Which I did with much flagrant exaggeration about frost bite, drowning, and wild animal attacks. If I do say so myself I did a pretty good job of causing my brother to have second thoughts about coming but I figured he had already bought the plane ticket and was pretty much locked in. Next, I blasted off an email to him with a list of clothing and how to keep from freezing to death, which he thanked me for several times!
May I add one more thing to the mix adding to the pressure? This might actually be the crux of the neurosis, my GLB is seven years older than me. All past experiences with him for the most part have been times when he has been in charge. He was now coming on MY fishing trip! Do you get it? I was not sure I knew how to be in charge when my older brother was in attendance. Afraid, you ask? Yeah, I guess that emotion covers it. There is a great comfort when someone else is in charge. Are you relating yet? Well catch up with me. When someone else is in charge, YOU OR I are not responsible, the one in charge is. THAT’S BIG!! You see on this trip I was going to be responsible for so many decisions, first where we are going, the weather (that hardly seems fair – who can control the weather), the quality of fishing (that hardly seems fair – I can’t make fish bite – Oh yes I can, I forgot), what we eat (that hardly seems fair – I don’t really know what he likes to eat), and on and on it built right along with my neurosis.
All that you have read so far was not wisdom that flashed before me the instant I knew he was coming. It took some stewing, some fermenting before it formed into actual cognitive worries. The whole lowering expectation thing did not really come into clear focus until about three weeks before our trip when panic was beginning to set in. Up to that point my subconscious was running me up and down rabbit trails skirting the real issue. I knew I needed to tie up some more flies – after all I had promised fly fishing – and I had been busy. Weeks earlier I started looking though my boxes of flies, none of them looked good enough to offer an older brother. I decided I needed to tie all new flies for my brother and myself. They must be pristine, top quality because who wants an older brother telling others, he traveled all the way out west for a nine day fly fishing trip just to be given crappy flies to fish with. Certainly not me!
I know this all sounds a little or a lot neurotic but get over it, it’s me, Grayquill. So, tying flies was a nightly occurrence for six weeks. By and by I finally had over 300 new flies tied but not all were pristine – sigh. The trip came and went – the lowering expectation thing was hugely successful. My brother caught fish and he didn’t freeze to death; he even said he has the trip on his schedule for next year.
I have heard that it is emotionally healthy to not worry about what others think about you. As a parent I spent considerable breath trying to convince my children to not let others opinions rule their behavior. I also use to tell them if I am not a good example be sure I am a good bad example. As I sit here looking up the road toward sixty I suppose I am not going to get much better than I am right now. So, for now it seems this neurosis thing is something I can use to push me to tie more flies and that’s gotta be good – right?
I apologize for making this piece all about me but I suppose you understand how it couldn’t have been any other way.