Back to Real Life

River Fishing

Author: Kaitlin Barnhart
Mamma Fly Box

While walking away from the river to head to my car, I always take one last glance at the serenity behind me. I usually sigh and say to myself,

“Now back to real life”….. As if the river were a door to another world and I am stepping out of it.

Like a Transformer robot, I start to take off my waders, break down my fly rod, and tuck my flies away safely, turning back into the ‘real life person’ from the ‘free range undefined outdoors person’. It must be some messed up version of The Chronicles of Narnia I have constructed in my brain- to create two separate worlds that I jump in and out of? Either I am a genius for finding a way to use nature to escape from reality or I need a psychotherapist ASAP.

So far, my separate persona that checks in the baggage of all things of ‘real life world’ with the slam of my car door, is really working for me. The expectations and set roles I move around in during real life flee from my mind the further I get from the road; I turn into just me, next to a tree, sitting on a rock, becoming part of nature’s story instead of juggling a million stories. I can fall or do some quirky river dance, or make strange sounds to the moon and no one is there to judge me.

Fishing in a River

Fishing alone brings me to this second world of serenity and freedom (kind of magical like Narnia), as I defy the categories set for me and am able to just explore at my own pace like a child playing make-believe. I see a fish swirl in the water and a deer comes down to quench its thirst next to me- and I am the only one there in that moment to see these things. When the wind blows the bushes around and a noise summons some uncertainty, I fight it with my own mental strength, with prayer sometimes, and end up feeling stronger and more able to do real life with more clarity on what I am capable of.

Adventure tends to prepare me for the battles, and also provide lily pads of fun scattered through the giant ocean of life’s chaos.

One thing I do know:  when I pick a fly and toss it out to a fish I find feeding behind the rock in the river, it feels almost as good as Christmas Eve for a child; I start to wonder if the fish will go for the delicious fake bug, and guess about what I could possibly catch. When the fish takes the fly, I set the hook and guess if I will land it, or if he will win the battle. And then I hold the fish in my hands and let it go back in the water, to grow….I think it is probably more fun than Christmas morning, actually. Even if there is no one there to high five or take a picture, I still look around at the trees and yell, “Yeah that was awesome!” (Friends fishing downstream from me have heard this before). This is freedom.

Being alone has its own special moments, but taking my children with me to the other side of normal life has really made me never want to leave it. Beyond the stress of packing, cleaning, feeding, and entertaining, I find moments of playfulness, of creativity, of something I know treasured memories are made of… I always ask these questions to the sky: can’t we just stay out here, exploring together and finding new ways to see the world without all of the real life pressures moving my arms and mind in the way it should go? Can’t I just braid my daughter’s hair with flowers, then catch trout for dinner and teach my son how to count the stars? Wouldn’t it be grand if all we had to do was just dance around in the woods, be curious, and enjoy?

When all I can hear is the water rushing around my wading boots and all I can see are the trees dancing behind my children playing in the dirt near me, I never want to leave. I throw an internal fit and refuse to leave until the darkness forces my hand to slam the car door.

Someday I may slam the ‘real life door’ for good. You will have to send smoke signals to call me back for holiday dinners and family functions. My kids will have natural dreadlocks and will have intense bow hunting and fishing skills. People will try to capture us or study us, but we will learn how to hide from them and I will point to the people as they leave and tell my kids how sad their world is…

Ah who am I kidding, I’m already craving a latte and a shower just thinking about it.

So goes the battle of “Real Life VS. Not-Real Life”. The river is still calling…and I must go…and probably come back.

Adventures in nature make real life just…..better.


***Since I’m in Antarctica without internet access for 22 consecutive days, I’ve selected a few articles from other great bloggers to share with you. I’ll be back on February 3rd, 2015 with loads of fantastic adventures from Antarctica to share. Chat soon.***

18 thoughts on “Back to Real Life

  1. I think for many of us, we wear different uniforms to fit what we are doing.

    Work Me is mindful of safety, Human Resource issues, and rules and regulations.

    Surfing Me is focused on performance and taking some risks.

    Travel Me is enjoying the adventures and interacting with other people.

    Different objectives but the same me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great way to sum up the battle between passions and responsibilities! I’m like you, where I cant entirely have one or the other. I start to go crazy if I feel like I’m being unproductive, but if I work too much I feel like I’m being drained. Great Article!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t picked up a rod in years, but this used to be my escape, too. I remember that feeling of everything else fading away. Now I get that by traveling without my family from time to time, or going exploring in the woods without their noisy chatter. I’m worried my hands wouldn’t remember how to fish! But maybe it’s time I gave them a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kelli~ I assure you, it will be like you never quit. It’s like meeting back up with another version of yourself that is waiting to come out and play! I think I love ff because it is an excuse to get out on the river and take a break from the “noise chatter”, as you put it. Thank you for your comment. Hope you can dust off the old fly rod soon! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kelli~ I assure you, it will be like you never quit. It’s like meeting back up with another version of yourself that is waiting to come out and play! I think I love ff because it is an excuse to get out on the river and take a break from the “noise chatter”, as you put it. Thank you for your comment. Hope you can dust off the old fly rod soon! 🙂


  5. Reblogged this on beyondtheflow and commented:
    I can so relate to this post. I am parked beside Pittwater, Palm Beach at low tide about to chase soldier crabs before dinner. School goes back next week…in just a few days. Ouch! I don’t want to leave this world. I just want to bask by the ocean forever!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Love this article and I can relate! I’ve got a fly fishing addicted husband and two boys (with another expected any day) and we love to escape to the river. An article you wrote for Dun Magazine inspired me to submit a poem to them which they published so thank you. You are a talented writer!


    • Wow, thank you so much! Which edition in Dun was your poem? Best of luck with your new addition! Babies and fly rods can mix, just make sure your fly fishing addicted husband has his priorities straight! ;)Thanks, Katy!


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