Locked Down Chill Out

Locked Down Chill Out

Paul Arden | Monday, 30 March 2020

I escaped the madness. I spent a week of looking at the news. And now I’m back in Heaven. I had one really crazy stocking supplies day. I was out of essentials such as beer, low on jungle juice and 2-stroke engine oil. And then the lock-out was extended by another two weeks... so I hit the town - no cases of CV in Gerik, but the streets were deserted apart from a few supermarket mask-wearing glove-sporting 2-metre separated individuals.

Here we have army checkpoints with machine gun holding soldiers stopping all unnecessary travel. And they don’t want people going fishing which is totally understandable because you don’t know what you’ll catch when fishing. Often nothing at all. Luckily I always seem to catch zee big fish.

I am of course writing this from a cupboard at home and not from a remote part of the lake, for the record. And I’m imagining sitting in a beautiful isolated bay, chilling out, waiting for the sun to lower itself slightly so that I can fish for zee big ones.
Also, while I’m about it, I’m also imagining that all the attachment hooks I picked up in the local supermarket will miraculously fit themselves to the boat as part of the Ark Organisation Plan. There must be close to 400 litres of fuel on that boat. Should be enough for an imaginary month of fly fishing intensity. How ironic to isolate myself in a bloody town house, when I normally intentionally isolate myself far, far further away from humans anyway? Living under the stars.
I would have to navigate the lake at night; only the nimble can do this. And find an isolated bay that occasionally gets some Internet, but no boat traffic, has fish... phew that would definitely be impossible. Do not come anywhere near my house or knock on the front door - I won’t answer it I promise you. Social distancing man.
It’s times like this I wish I was on my sailing boat and not land-locked.
Even though I’m at home, don’t expect an answer from me immediately. I might be sleeping for several days at a time or forget to connect to the Internet.
Now look... I know that there are people who struggle to spend time alone. Obviously I am not one of them. I love my time. It’s true that I have incredible friends, an amazing wife and a wonderful family. But I need “me time”. It’s a gift. Here is my tip: go with the happy thoughts.
There is nothing better than spending time with yourself. I like to have a good time, bit of a laugh. I’m always taking the piss out of myself. Given enough free time I seem to reach a perfect state of mind. And then I really feel that I belong here, connected to this amazing Universe.
Mind you, I do live outdoors in nature, so that might make a difference. But I don’t think so; that’s just me. That’s what I need. Stick me in a town house and there’s a real danger that I might turn into a psycho killer. So I’m not perfect, I’ll be the first to admit that.
I remember when I was about 20 at University, I went off the rails. Serious depression. Ever read “Crime and Punishment”? That was me. Totally fucked up. So I quit and started travelling with a backpack. I was very shy and insecure right through to about 30 when I took a shit load of drugs. I was wasted for a year basically. Never injected - fuck no - but every party drug went right through my nose. Everything to excess and then some.
That culminated in me collapsed on a floor of a friend’s balcony having an overdose with my life streaming right back at me. I really believed that right there and then I was going to die. I hung on - who wouldn’t? And then at one point I just said “fuck it”. And let go.
There was a pause... then it went nuts because my first thought was “am I dead now?” and then “was that a thought???” That was one really fucked-up crazy trip. Also a life-changing one.
I spent a lot of time thinking about that - I haven’t thought about it in a while now, it’s an old chapter in my life and 20 years have since passed. But afterwards, whenever I think about it, I realise that several things happened. One is that I lost all fear of death; after all why fear death now? I’ve already let go. Why fear what is inevitable anyway?
The other thing that happened is that I’ve lost the fear of life/to live. You can only truly live, I think, when you lose the fear of living. Let me explain that: there are lots of reasons why people don’t truly live - fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of change... the dreaded “what if?” If you don’t try then you’ll never find out!
And so I became a totally different person, in a good way I think. I actually became a “good” person, in my own way, trying to do the right thing and helping other people along the way. I’ve tried very hard to become the person who I truly want to be - positive, friendly, outgoing, fearless. I’m not Jesus Christ!!! But I do think in this “second life” I’m the one who is in control now.
I’m not saying that you should go through this process yourself in order to find out, the very simple fact, that we have the ability to completely change who we are. It’s all in our heads anyway. It’s not difficult. Simply step away from your thoughts and choose the ones you want to think. Choose happy thoughts if you want to be happy. Choose sad thoughts if you want to feel sad. But don’t allow your thoughts to rollercoaster rule your life. Control your mind - after all, it’s about the only thing we can do.
It will take some practise at first but when you step out from your thoughts, you will stop being your thoughts. And then you can then choose who you really want to be.
And that’s why you need to spend time on your own. Lots of it.

I realise that crashing economies - and potentially worse things - is going to affect us all. We are building rods at this time. Our orders have dropped out, not surprisingly. Once we’ve completed our current custom builds on order, we will build a stock level again so that we can speed up orders in the future when this thing has passed. This is a positive.
Shipping and courier services have definitely been hit hard at this time and we have supplies and rods moving very slowly around the world.
Take care and enjoy your free-thought time. It’s a gift. More than most people realise. All you ever need to be truly happy is your thoughts. Now shut off the Internet and spend some time alone. I’m 100% convinced that almost all the problems in this world are caused by people who haven’t spent nearly enough time on their own.
They fill their minds with crap. Absorbing newspapers, television, Facebook, religion and yet never clear that shit out and spend time alone in nature with themselves. Now we are different because we are fly fishermen. The very nature of fly fishing, for most of us anyway, is intrinsically isolated. It’s a very personal experience.
I’m sure Andy will get to it in his very excellent “why we fish series” and certainly he has touched on it already. But the real reason, I think, is that it gives us a reason to be here. Fly fishing defines who we are.
The interesting thing I find about fly fishers who become obsessed by it - me for example - is that we all become a little bit crazy. And the more we fish - alone - the madder we get. And then we look at the rest of the world, from our state of insanity, and think that they are the mad ones.
Having said that I don’t know of another flyfisher who has ever killed another flyfisher because of the method he was using. “FRENCH NYMPHING?? FEEL MY 12WT YOU SCOUNDREL!!! AND DIE!!!”
I mean, obviously, the length of tippet is worth arguing about, extremely heatedly I’m sure. Or the number of turns of hackle on a wet fly. But it’s highly unlikely that we are ever going to start a war. So while we may be mad, in our endeavours, and our minds, it’s the rest of the world that is truly fucked up.
I do fear for the rest of the world. But what can you do? They are in some crazy fucked up rat-race better-than-you my-god-loves-me world. And good luck to that.
I just go fishing.
Stay safe.