The area around Creede, Colorado is spectacular, especially during the week during the off season. It is a time in which quiet can easily be found along with uncrowded rivers and streams.
Not long ago I was fly-fishing on a creek in that area for the day. The air was warm, but not so hot that the fish were stressed. That said, water levels were somewhat low meaning that typical spots to fish with ease were nowhere to be found.
To fish on that particular day meant finding hard-to-find deep pools surrounded by rocks, brush, weeds, and trees. Fishing conditions were challenging because casting required getting one’s fly into a place in which fishing lines could easily become snagged or tangled. At least that was the case for me.
After a few hours, in which I had some success along with having to deal with knotted lines, I sat down on a rock near the stream’s edge. As the Colorado sun warmed me and I listened to the water, it struck me that my experience fishing represented much of what I have experienced in life.
The most productive fishing that day happened in the most challenging places. The spots on the river in which fishing would be easy, no fish were to be found. So it has been in my life.
Those passages of relative ease, while enjoyable and wonderful, haven’t generally yielded much in terms of life lessons or opportunities to expose things I’ve needed to work on. Conversely, the most difficult and challenging times in my life have shaped who I have become, taught me much about myself, strengthened my dependence upon God, and made it clear how much I need people in my life.
Sure you can learn to fish in waters in which it is easy to catch fish, but if you truly want to grow as a fly-fisherman, it is the hard and at times seemingly impossible places to fish that teach a person the most. So it is in life, I believe.
While I have not particularly enjoyed hard times to say the least, as I reflect back on my life, I am who I am because of what I have endured and I would not trade what I have learned through such experiences. Although recognizing such things can be difficult while we are in a tough period, I believe if we each look back upon our lives we will find the best, most resilient parts of who we are, are in place precisely because of what we have gone through. This truth, I pray, can offer each of us not only solace but hope when we are in the thick of it.