The pursuit of passion

I’ve read Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air” a few times and have come to a conclusion:
I’m glad I’m obsessed with fish and not mountains.
I mean, I like hiking mountains for fun and camping on them during hunting trips, but I am not called by a deeply rooted passion to scale them. They are purely recreation.
There’s a level of depth that people must come to terms with in regards to their passions.
A casual runner runs. A passionate runner has to deal with a marathon. If you’re a runner it’s on the list and if you get a marathon, you have to consider the Boston Marathon or an ultra. It’s the apex, it’s the epitome, it’s fulfilling, or fully traveling down that literal and figurative road.
I have it as an angler too. I’m passionate about fishing. That means that I have to manage thoughts of the holy grail of my chosen pastime. Sometimes I feel like I’ll wake up tomorrow and be 70 and will have thousands of stories of fish from Prince of Wales Island and California – same old fish, same old spots.
It sounds stupid to the rational outsider, but a trout isn’t just a trout. I’ve caught brown trout on the Truckee, Sacramento, Pit, McCloud and Stanislaus Rivers in California, but I haven’t caught one in Yellowstone. Fly fishers must make a pilgrimage to Yellowstone. It’s the Boston Marathon, Yankee Stadium or Augusta of domestic fly fishing – if you don’t live in Alaska like we do. But it doesn’t stop there. There are monster brown trout in Patagonia. Of course, once you go there, then New Zealand beckons. It just doesn’t stop. It’s the horribly wonderful fascination with beautiful fish in new, beautiful places and the more it costs and the poorer you are, the greater the sacrifice and the more incredible it is. I’m assuming, because I’ve never been to South America.
Of course the irony is that, yeah, I live in Alaska, which someone in Montana might say is the trip of a lifetime, so I should just shut up and be happy I live where I do, and have fished where I have.
I’m sure I can be happy if I never fish some of the more exotic areas of the world for a brown trout, but I will wonder. I read books about fishing, and often times there are stories about these places, places I haven’t and might never fish.
Maybe it’s ego-driven, as if life is a salmon, steelhead and trout resume.
Or maybe it’s escaping the dark shadows that envelop us if we stay still. In the movie “Everest” and interviews after being left for dead on Mount Everest, Beck Weathers admitted he chased mountains for exactly that reason.
I don’t feel like I’m being stalked by depression but I do feel the need to escape sheetrock confinement for the freedom of a river and what swims in it.

See column at:
http://www.capitalcityweekly.com/stories/021716/out_1266707643.shtml

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