“Why don’t you write Jas?”
It was dark by the time we started back. My brother changed lanes and passed a car along the two lane highway that was taking me back from the fighter squadron for the last time.
“I don’t know. I guess I could.”
“Writing is hard. You used to really enjoy it.” He waited. “You could do it.”
“Yeah.” We drove in silence through the dark. “We’ll see.”
That conversation was in December of 2018. The day of my final flight in the USAF A-10 Warthog. I had just finished telling my brother how much I would miss flying. How the end of that journey left me wondering if I would find something as difficult and rewarding in life again.
Why don’t you write Jas?
It stuck with me. Over the next two months I debated the idea over and over in my head. Eventually, I realized that the only real thing keeping me from starting was fear. Fear that my writing would fall short. Fear of sharing my stories. Fear that I would not enjoy it enough to continue. Fear of being viewed as a fraud. Fear of the unknown obstacles ahead. And eventually, as my writing led to my art, a fear that my art would not be good enough. Fear of so many things, but mostly the fear of failing.
I knew this feeling. Had experienced it many times before. It was the same feeling that came with seeing the difficult path ahead, but knowing it is was the right thing to do. When I saw that for what it was, I was committed.
Why Fly Fishing?
I knew I wanted to write but was unsure where to begin.
So, I asked myself, “If you could do one thing for the rest of your life Jason, what would it be?” The easy answer was fly fishing. It made sense for so many reasons:
I loved fly fishing, but my Air Force career had taught me that I also loved to teach and to help people. I thought I could share my ideas and lessons learned about fly fishing through a blog. But who would read it?
I was not a guide. I did not own a fly shop. I was not on the river every day. Who would want to hear what I had to say about fly fishing? Where was my expertise?
I began to write anyway, and as I wrote the stories of my times on the river, I began to see that I had learned a great deal over the twenty years that I had been fly fishing. But even more than the techniques and tactics of fly fishing, I had learned about what made those experiences special. And why the learning itself was special.
The more I shared my work, the more I realized that there are many people out there like me. Folks who love fly fishing, that may not get to the river as often as they would like. Men and women that are dedicated to getting better at fly fishing for the sake of the journey. That love the journey more than the trophy fish. That respect the sport and the river and the fish. That understand that fly fishing is special but also reject the concept that it is elite.
The more that I write, the more I find those people.
Who is Wadeoutthere?
A year after starting my blog, I thought I would share a story from a subscriber that speaks loudly about what Wadeoutthere means.
Last March I asked my subscribers to email a fly fishing photo with some words about why it was special to them and why it seemed like a Wadeoutthere moment. I randomly selected one person’s photo to paint and mailed them the original.
The first “Wadeoutthere Original Art Contest”. That photo and my painting are the featured images of this blog post.
The following words are from the winning Wadeoutthere subscriber. He lives in Alabama. You may not think there is much fly fishing in Alabama, but that is the point. You do not have to live down the road from a trout stream to Wadeoutthere.
“It was a lot of “firsts” for me! It was my first time to fly fish in Montana, first time to fish the Madison River and my first Brown Trout, a 17″ incher!! It was the last day of fishing, on a 5 day fishing trip and I was having a decent go at it all with my prior rainbow trout catches, but for some reason, maybe the culmination of my 4 days prior practice, confidence and the “fishing Gods” looking down on me with favor…
…The catch was classic with the Brown racing back and forth between the bank and where I caught it, having to zig, zag run for it, trying to land it in my net, was all a thrill! Most of all being out there in my element, where we all long to go, where the water is our true pavement to greater destinations, where time seems to stand still and where there is no better place to escape the world as we know it….all of this culminated into a Wade Out There Moment….a moment that will forever be in my mind, heart and soul…a moment I will never ever forget.”
It sounds special because it is. Brian does not get to go fly fishing all the time, but he goes. And each time he goes, he gets better. That is the journey. That is what makes it special.
Thank You Wadeoutthere.
It has been one year since my first Wadeoutthere article joined the intrawebs. There have been ups and downs along the way, but the process has been incredibly rewarding. The writing, the art, sharing my stories, teaching, and learning. Even creating and designing the website has been meaningful. It seems that the entire experience builds upon itself and opens new doors of opportunity.
Like fly fishing, it has been a journey. And along the journey I have some people to thank.
Thanks to the readers and subscribers. You are the men and women I think of when I write my posts and share my stories. I love hearing from you in the comments and thinking that my blog brings you some value and makes you smile.
Thanks to those Wadeoutthere subscribers that submitted pictures and stories for the art contest. It was humbling to hear from you and share in your incredibly special experiences. I realized instantly that there were many people that deeply shared my thoughts about fly fishing.
Finally, thanks to my brother. In one moment, he gave me insight into a path that has brought me tremendous joy. If he did not know how thankful I was before, he does now. He asked the question that is changing the direction of my life. Why don’t you write Jas?