Wait…wait…wait…I can already hear you clenching up, getting all chaffed, all sphincterfied…I’m afraid you may already have the initial symptoms of a chronic condition called “Reflex Butt-Hurt Response.” It is a serious condition with both physiological and psychological impacts, I’m sure someday there will be 5k runs and morons on bikes with retarded crap taped to their helmets raising money for research, yet for right now you have it within yourself to fight this ailment, you can beat the Butt-hurt…or don’t – I’m sure more than a few people are addicted to feeling social outrage.
Since I grew up in an Irish family (that’s racist), I have more than zero experience with people addicted to alcohol. Alcoholism “It’s a disease.” Was the most common excuse given (if one was given at all) for all manner of bad behavior…
Forgot a birthday – it’s a disease
Left at the park - it’s a disease
Knocked out teeth – it’s a disease
Ran over a bike – it’s a disease
Discharged a weapon – it’s a disease
Whatever the Mad Asshatter(s) did was to be promptly and completely forgiven because it wasn’t really them it was a disease. You wouldn’t get mad at someone with cancer if they repeatedly blackened your eyes would you? Would you? I think I would. Actually I’d probably kick their cancer-ridden ass, assuming they had ass-cancer. Of course it’s hard to imagine a cancer patient repeatedly blackening your eye isn’t it. Why is that? That’s right, because they have a disease.
The Flyosopher is going to make light of addictions. That’s just terrible!!! Has he no compassion for people struggling against a problem they created for themselves?
And there it is…there’s the point you just can’t escape from. They created it for themselves.
And for the record: I do have compassion for the kids, parents, and pets of addicts; I have some but not a ton for the spouses and friends of addicts; I don’t have any leftover for the addict, eventually they all become the same person anyhow. I know, I know, I’m a horrible person, a monster, barely a human being, and I’m just the worst. It’s just my emotional math. I figure sadly the world is full of people with physical ailments, mental illness, and developmental disabilities – don’t really need volunteers.
But most addicts are mentally ill…
Possibly, actually I’d say probably, but it’s exactly like a lake turning over. At some point the person stops being a mentally ill person self-medicating by abusing substances, and becomes a person abusing substances that deteriorate the functionality of their brain. What’s first? The Chicken or the fired egg – I don’t much care.
And now for the part that ought to concern you…any substance or experience that causes a chemical response in your brain can become addictive. And what exactly causes a chemical response in your brain? Well, just about everything.
And that’s a game changer…
When a person becomes addicted to say Heroin one has to wonder: How did they think that was going to end? Seriously, how long is the list of people who have improved their lives with heroin? (don’t answer that…”improved” is a relative term and I would think that for many sad cases heroin is superior to reality.) Alcohol is more understandable. It is socially acceptable; most people who drink will not develop an addiction to it. Still the huge number of lives ruined by alcohol makes Heroin look like candy cigarettes…and have you ever seen the number of annual deaths associated with smoking? It’s a sobering realization…you see what I did there? Oh yeah, the English Language is my BITCH. Writing a witty gem improves my generally dark mood…it’s fair to say I may be addicted to being a smart-ass.
Many people find the idea of people who are addicted to something other than chemical substances rather funny – and hey why not human misery has a long history of appearing in comedies. Sure gambling addiction is fairly well-known phenomenon. Sex addicts are still mainly seen as people looking for an excuse (which they generally are doesn’t mean it isn’t a real thing.) Personally, I think the plague of Western Civilization is entertainment addiction – primarily TV but especially Video Games. There have been multiple studies of young men who would rather play video games than pursue romantic relationships with chicks…oh wait, I’d say that’s me but I think I grew out of that description, I mean I’m 39 now I’m not young, still playing Xbox in my underwear, but I’m not young. Odd as it may seem, the chemicals a brain stews in while watching a screen are no different than what it stews in responding to chemicals introduced to the bloodstream. Dopamine is dopamine whether you get a surge from playing Grand Theft Auto V, jerking it to Swedish porn, or the crack-pipe.
“So, you know the High you get from Meth????”
“No, no I don’t know the High you get from Meth, and to think I was afraid we wouldn’t have anything to talk about on our first date…”
This really happened. I hope she’s healthy and happy, but statistics say that’s highly unlikely
Addictions are like the muscle memory of your brain. I could have used the less emotionally charged word “habits” but since when have I ever done that? Your brain is a tool. It is more like your legs or arms than you may realize. Use it the way you want it to function and it with grow connections to make that easier and easier, just like pumping iron or casting a fly rod. Use it in a negative way and it will grow weaker and weaker. It’s your choice. Your life, your body, your mind use them however you see fit, but it is your choice, not fate, not victimhood, and certainly not a disease.
That said, I think we need to talk, consider this an intervention. I feel you may be addicted to your retrieve. I know you say that you can quit anytime. You can switch up to a dead drift, a swing, a two-handed quick cadence strip, but who are we kidding. You have the retrieve that is your retrieve; you can do it in your sleep (many of us have done it in our sleep) and as much as you love it, as much as you feel you can’t get through a trip without it, I’m here to tell you, as a friend, its holding you back. It’s time to get help.
As you have seen me write a dozen times before, absolutely everything involved with a presentation matters. Retrieves are one of the easiest things for us to adjust a play with; however, the tugs you make on the line are not the only parts of it. The fly, the line, the current and especially the leader all combine to make the fly act a certain way.
“So what’s the best retrieve?”
“By Wodan’s Eye! I hate you.”
As you have seen me write dozens of times before, absolutely everything involved with a presentation only matters when considered in the context of the situation. There is no best retrieve in all situations, though many of us – and likely at times all of us – tend to default to our signature cadence of strip, strip strip. It’s an addiction and needs to be broken.
Since we are using the situation of the big stripers on the flat, the retrieve that ultimately proved most effective was a slow series of tiny little baby strips, with pregnant pauses in between.
“Mon, you finally learned what I was screamin at ja…”
Mr. Guide’s bonefish retrieve was vastly more effective than my far more energetic typical retrieve or an even faster two-handed retrieve. The idea that I needed to do something to draw attention to the fly was largely a mistake – a striper hunting on the flat is far more aware of subtle little twitches than we may know.
The take away is never zone out…always vary your retrieve and pay attention to what works. Had I been doing this I may have found this technique on my first day of flats fishing…not a few years later.
I will always have to be mindful of this, the addiction of falling into the familiar will always be there.