Focus On The Leaf But See The Tree

18 Aug
We fly-fishermen pursue fly-fishing with a passion. While such a passion drives us to better ourselves in furtherance to such pursuit, it has a down side. It is all too common that we so intently focus on the object of our fishing, catching our quarry, that the object becomes the end-all. We fly-fish with a cocoon built of goal oriented tunnel vision. As such, we fail to appreciate and enjoy the natural environment in which our fishing activity takes place. How can we assuage the personal deprivation caused by this tunnel vision phenomenon? This article will offer you one method of reminding you to pursue fly-fishing with a more open appreciation of the natural environment.
There is a saying from my Goshin-Do Karate-Do Dojo that will help you to moderate the phenomenon of goal oriented tunnel vision. The saying is derived from a recognition by Karate-Ka (those who practice Karate) that, in combat, if one focuses too intently on one’s opponent (to the exclusion of all else), one does so at one’s peril. The following saying reminds the Karate-Ka of the perils of such tunnel vision. “Focus on the leaf but see the tree.”
When applied to fly-fishing, the result is simple. While you wholeheartedly pursue your trophy fish, you remain open not only to the joy and aesthetic beauty of pursuing a fish through fly-fishing, but also allow yourself to be enraptured by the natural surroundings within which your fly-fishing takes place. Such enraptured state envelopes all your senses. You will see the total natural environment and simultaneously see the minute details that make nature such a marvelous place to experience. You will marvel at plethora of wild creatures, as Great Blue Herron below, that make your fishing water home.    

Veterans Oasis Park, Chandler, Arizona. A Great Blue Herron greets the dawn.

Water Ranch Lake, Gilbert, Arizona. A Great Blue Herron lurks in the shallows.

Or, if you are lucky to fish in such an area, you may be privileged to have a visit from nature’s inhabitants curious to see the strange two-legged creature casting into the water.

Lower Salt River, Arizona. A small herd of wild horses visits.

While it is easy to appreciate such beauty and diversity on a large scale, do not fail to notice the smaller citizens of nature.. How many of you would not only notice but appreciate the dragonfly resting on the reeds you are casting towards? To be sure, nature largely ignores the foibles of man; but now and then nature may pause to watch a graceful fly-fisherman within its midst.

Veterans Oasis Park. I am watching the dragonfly or is he watching me.

Not only do you see the natural beauty, but are open to feeling the warm sun, or cooling breeze, or light refreshing rain on your skin. You appreciate a symphony of natural sounds that you are deprived of upon your return to “civilization”. You can readily appreciate the sounds of the river as it makes its way on its primordial journey, or hear the breeze in the trees. Sometimes nature treats you to a melodious treat. While fishing at Red mountain Lake on morning in Mesa, Arizona, I heard the most indescribable sound coming from the reeds across the lake. I soon saw the sound was coming from a family of American Coot; a beautiful waterfowl to behold and hear.

Red Mountain Lake, Mesa, Arizona. An adult American Coot thinks not of a fly-fisherman on shore, but cares for its young.

The smells of nature penetrate your olfactory senses to awaken a primordial appreciation of the outdoor environment. You can even taste nature when you lick the salt air from your lips, when you wet your tippet when tying a knot, or perhaps when you eat a sandwich for lunch after catching and releasing a few fish.

So the next time you are on your favorite waters, casting a fly to your treasured quarry. Pursue the object of your search with a passion. Don’t let the passion limit your total experience. See nature totally and from different perspectives.

Veterans Oasis Park Lake as viewed from a bird-watcher’s blind.

Fly-fish with a true heart and spirit but, pause a moment, think like a Karate master and remember to “Focus on the leaf, but see the tree.“

Sensei John

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If you enjoy applying martial arts ideology to fly-fishing, you may also enjoy our blog that applies martial arts ideology to life. You may find it at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


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