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Retreat to the River | Outbreak Magazine


At some point, we all need to take a strategic retreat. We cannot keep moving all the time. It is not practical.

The military analogy should not be abused, but our lives are like a relentless campaign. There are times when we load the guns at full speed. There are times when we are a little neutral, taking stock of the threats that lie ahead. And there are times when, like it or not, the threats get too strong, or you are surprised by some kind of flanking maneuver and you are forced to take a few steps back, to retreat, would not. -what a little, and even if it’s strategic.

And for those of us who fish, the retreat is usually down to the water, whether it’s a river, a bonefish dish, or even the pond at the local farm. The river is a refuge, a place where threats cannot touch us. It is the cathedral facing the invading vampires. The air raid shelter. The impenetrable bunker.

I have had to back down a bit over the years. Divorced. Financial stuff. Hell, even a flat tire gets you down a gear, you know? But now, for the first time in years, I’m in full retreat, running like hell for the river. I’m running so far and so fast that I won’t stop until my fly line spreads over the cold, foreign waters of southern Chile.

This time around, the emerald waters of Patagonia are my cathedral, as the vampires are bleeding me dry.

And it’s been a slow draw, honestly. I didn’t notice it at first, because it was subtle. Then it got… less subtle. And then he delivered haymaking up to the chin.

Such is life, right? One minute, you have a plan and a plan to execute the plan. The next minute you’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen next and whether you can survive the suspense.

And the first thought after getting up from the web is, “Jesus, I must go fishing.”

So I’m leaving. And don’t think that I don’t appreciate the fact that in times of crisis, I get on a plane and some 24 hours later, I land in Santiago, one more step towards Patagonia and its wild trout. and exotic. It’s still fishing. It is always regenerating for the soul. It’s still a retreat – it just takes longer to get there. And the fish are bigger.

I remember years ago when I was a teenager in East Texas my father’s job was cut in large part because of the fall in the price of oil – he was a director of a drilling company, and when the work was in progress, it was really on it. But when a drilling company has drilling rigs stacked in the yard, it’s the middle managers who get the ax first. And my dad got the ax – one day we were a thriving family of five with a ski boat parked by the lake and a lovely backyard pool. The next day we lived from hand to mouth.

To her credit, however, we kids never really noticed a huge difference. He immediately landed a job at a consulting firm that sent him across the country – a job he hated, by the way. But it was his “retirement”. He had to take a job he didn’t like so the rest of us could continue to enroll, high school was on my doorstep and a place on the college basketball team was there to take. . My younger brothers were still in elementary school and middle school when this first forced retirement hit us.

A few years later, my parents parted ways – another retreat, and this one wasn’t so easy to ignore. The cruel game of “choosing a parent” has been left to my brothers. I was old enough to fend for myself.

But I remember, even then, on my way home to Colorado after our “retirement” from Texas, that one of the first things I did was grab a fishing rod and disappear into the Rockies for a few. days with my grandfather. It was my own retreat – a much needed reminder that when my soul is in need of mending, it is best done with my feet on freestone boulders and cold, clear water flowing around. my knees.

These days, on the descent side of just about any life marker (age, career, etc.), retirement is a bit sharper. It begins with grief and disbelief. Anger comes next. So a little shame for good measure. Finally, the realization.

And then, fishing. Because that’s where the regrouping takes place. This is where the map of a lifetime is laid out, and a good bottle of Irish whiskey is placed in a corner, to keep the winds of chance from getting any more involved. This is where the next shot is worked out – between the throws of rollers to a fat brunette who doesn’t know I’ve spotted him hiding behind a boulder across the river. Next up, this plan is crafted around cocktails at the lodge, where like minds sympathize and brains bigger than mine give advice and, if I’m lucky, an opportunity.

But it all starts with this necessary retirement, as unfortunate as it is. Often we have to take a step back. We have to come to terms with the things we cannot control, no matter how sad and inconvenient they are.

I’m retreating to the Andes this time around – to rivers I haven’t fished yet. But they will work while I make a new plan. The fish that swim there, thanks to a sizable sacrifice, will help weave a ragged soul, a frayed and tired soul, to be honest. Its free ends were ripe for the tug, and when they were pulled, they got tangled, and it wasn’t pretty.

But now… I’m going fishing. And everything will go just fine.


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