All content © Robert Williamson

All content © Robert Williamson

Monday, February 9, 2009

On being Alone (This first appeared in "Utah Fishing" magazine April 1, 1988.)

Rare are the things people like to do alone.

I used to go fishing alone every week and when an acquaintance learned of my solitary expeditions he blurted out, "The only thing I like to do alone is use the bathroom."

It is a fact, however, that I used to leave every Tuesday night during the summer and head to my favorite trout stream to fish, camp, relax, and think. I remember the concerns of family and friends who felt that going alone was unwise because something might happen and I would be without help. They were also concerned because of my camping gear, which consisted of a fly rod, flies, and a sleeping bag. No food, no tent, no kitchen sink.

I would throw my fishing gear and sleeping bag into my vehicle every Tuesday morning so I would be ready to leave as soon as I got off work. I always carried matches and tinfoil so I could start a fire and cook fish. Utensils consisited of a knife and whittled stick.

I learned some important lessons on my lone fishing trips. I learned to enjoy my own company. I found that I didn't have to worry about anyone's pleasure but my own and though it may sound selfish, I was able to do exactly what I wanted--- and that was fish all day long.

Now, any true outdoorsman will tell you that in nature you are never really alone. If I was quiet, I had the company of squirrels, deer, woodchucks, mink, beaver, skunks and other animals. On occassion, I would stop fishing, look up and watch a hawk soar effortlessly across the sky, casting a shadow that would dance and spin upon the earth.

Other times, I would listen to the wind as it would weave through the pines, aspen and maples. The sudden breeze would cause a chill up my spine, not because it was cold, but because it would remind me of my aloneness. The smell of skunkberry and pine would awaken my senses and the sound of the water would penetrate deeply into my ears.

Sometimes I would stop to think about my great grandfather, my grandfather and my dad who passed to me the wonderful love for nature and the way to enjoy it through fly fishing. I would ponder about the stream, the trail, the cutthroat trout and wonder if I was standing in the spots they stood to cast a fly to eager, colorful trout. I felt they were here.

If you stop to think about it, the time spent fishing alone is not as it may seem. Although I never took anyone with me on those solitary trips, I had company. I had conversations with myself and with the trout and, maybe, in some unexplainable way, with other fishermen whose paths I was following. Fishermen who have long since gone, but who move up and down the stream in the wind.


Anonymous said...

Very nice Robert! Those alone times are great for thinking. I cherish those times and won't give them up. They have a completely different time and motion to them compared to fishing with someone. I also like fishing with another fisherman or two. I personally need both types of fishing. When I'm scouting new territory, I like someone with me. When I'm visiting a favorite haunt, I like the alone time.

Wildnative said...

Back in time, I had Wednesday as my day off. Most everyone I fished with back then had Saturday off so I was "kind of" forced to be a loner. I still enjoy sneaking off alone, but like you will take both solitary time and time with others. I have a nephew who I really enjoy fly fishing with and my brother is hard to beat. A few other friends thrown in when the stars line up. It's all good.

Fly Fishing Frenzy said...

Thanks for sharing. I think i need to take a page out of your book and spend some time by myself doing what i love.