Some people deal well with the unplanned and serendipitous, others do not at all. Some people enjoy randomness while others detest it. Some people need to control and try to dictate outcomes while others are excited to see what new possibilities fate sends their way.
My time in the wild between 2007 and 2011 changed my thinking radically in this realm. Nature assured me that I was not in control. It was my place to adapt and find the advantages I could but it wasn’t my place to dictate. And if I had been presupposing enough to demand my favorite outcome, nature would have laughed at me. To be at one with nature is to assume a mindset of openness to change and adaptation. I slept at random places in the forest and walked trails I knew nothing about, all of which enhanced my adventure. There’s a certain stream-of-consciousness paragraph that captures this rising train of thought at the tail end of the Adirondacks portion of my book, The Dying Fish.
More to the point today – I like randomness. I think it keeps life interesting. I also think we often delude ourselves when we micro-manage what we eat, where we go and what we’ll read. I think it’s the unplanned and unforeseeable that makes nature compelling – perhaps the most essential characteristic that separates the wild from our urban realms of perfect roads, sidewalks, crosswalks and tame animals. In fact, as a spoiler, this becomes not only incidental but a powerful theme of my first book.
I eat almost randomly (and I’m very healthy). I use a random number generator to choose my daily exercises and I get a very thorough full-body workout all the time. And I’ve been known to choose random places on the map and go there just to photograph, fish or hike.
With that background, I wanted to reveal my angling plan for 2020. I often start years with a general plan or theme – sometimes I can live up to it, sometimes not so much. I’ve done fly-fishing only years and pole-and-line years, for instance. I want to choose my fishing places randomly this year, as much as possible. I have a computer program I use to select random points on the map and this is how I’ll start when I’m ready to go fishing. I will fish the water nearest my selected point, so long as there’s any potential access.
Why!? Why?, you might ask. I think I could explain this in many ways but it’s about broadening one’s horizons. Thoreau wrote of the well-worn paths we make between familiar places, the ruts we fall into, the mental habits that dog us. Imposed randomness is one way to break these habits. I don’t know the possibilities, simply in the realm of fishing, that I’m missing out on now as I go back and forth to the places I imagine the fish that I want are waiting for me. Then too, this is simply about adventure and randomness and the unknown is a prerequisite here. I have no use for the modern American conception of adventure: a pre-packaged, all inclusive, carefully delineated adventure- product, bought and paid for (another strong theme of The Dying Fish).
We’re more resilient when we’re comfortable with chaos.
So, feel free to join in the 2020 random fishing challenge, if you’re inclined. Maybe I’ll see you out there! But that would be the most random thing ever.