Saturday, October 29, 2011

Miles Davis and the Return to Fishing

A frequent flyer on the right side of my brain, this half, owing to a right stuff of chemistry, behaves like a powerhouse. I've never believed it's abnormal, but different. Our culture is more suited to accommodate brain functions that serve ordinary means, rather than the wonder of why we ultimately do anything. A true culture of the arts and philosophy--not excluding angling, the outdoors, and business--allows for discipline without any crisis or conflict between how-to and the happiness of realization.

The right and the left sides of the brain can sort of reverse politics in a way that's confused, since the whole brain is really the actual fact. The left side is preferred today for its commonsense. But the right side represents or symbolizes the true home of productivity (including job creation). It's been thought to generates original ideas, passion, and love, although further research suggests the comparison between the two halves is not as divided as previously thought.. The right side was also thought to be responsible for authentic sexual response, intuition, and appreciation of beauty and value. It goes without saying that "the right side of the brain" tends to be marginalized as much as we remain trapped in cynical and uncaring attitudes, or caring, rather about getting things done in an unhappy way that would question why, desperately obsessed rather than experiencing happiness and joy. Surely a drive to get at the cause of our discontent--which is what the obsession really amounts to, if the notion of achieving understanding is repressed--could end with finding answers. 

On November 17th, 2004, I disembarked with my son, Matt, then five, for the Delaware River between Barryville, New York, and Narrowsburg, New York, Narrowsburg is about 110 miles from home. I remember the morning was partly sunny, fairly mild, maybe 50 degrees--the snow in the bottom photo is actually from March 2005 across the river from Barryville. After driving several miles up route 206, I put my Miles Davis, Doo Bop, c.d. on. The music never stopped until we arrived at the bait shop in Eldred, New York. I was on one of the most exquisite journeys I had entered into for years.

Matt felt perfectly happy. Although we spoke very little, he beamed with awareness every time I looked back upon him in the rear seat. (We hope this strange rite of distance from our young children--for their safety of course--hasn't affected them adversely.) It was as if he were cradled in my euphoria generated outward, connecting with him and my total environment.

I remember how the road fit in my hand. No longer bang, rattle, boom down the highway, but a seam of energy. Not coarse energy, like coal burning, but cosmic infusion, love itself. I hear nuance in music anytime, but it can strike hard and be in dissonant relation with other variations in the instrumentation. On that day the music's source gained transcendent resonance, with no loss of my awareness being anchored in the road. Matt's favorite piece on the c.d. is "The Doo-Bop Song." And if the most poignant passage of the entire collection is wondrously paradoxical when Andy Griffith's simple whistle (recalling fishing) rises over the drive and rage of the Davis band. Davis's subtle trumpeting over rages of instrumentation is reminiscent of Griffith's whistle.

And the deep bass drumming seemed to pound years of fishing left behind back into me. This trip--we caught a number of good sized smallmouth bass, a largemouth, and a pickerel--as exquisitely mystical as it was, seems most importantly to be the turning point in my life back to fishing as a serious recreational pursuit. 

During my teens I fished an average of about 285 days a year--I keep a log which records every day I fish since the start of 1975. At 18, I abandoned taking fishing seriously and fished only on occasion, maybe 30 days a year. I had undergone a conversion to interest in literature, philosophy, and psychology, studied all these subjects in college, but quit before I would have graduated to study and write while maintaining a shellfishing business. It didn't demand much time. Essentially it provided outdoor recreation. And it paid pretty well.

I never lost the outdoors. But it's good to be back at fishing. I'll never recapture just what I had in my teens, but that's not exactly the point. In a way it is the same American mainstream now as in 1978, which I departed from to do my writing and self-employment--very different from the high school to college to corporate job track. But now I too am a corporate employee, another phase I hope to grow out of into full time writing.

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