When I first started tenkara fishing I did it to have time to myself. It was therapy and still very much is most days that I go out. I have made a point to make sure that I always make time for just myself to be on the water alone more than I am with a fishing companion.
As the years have passed though, I have found some wonderful friends within this community. While I may only get to go fishing occasionally with each of them, I find that those adventures and memories have a special place in my life. When people come together in a common interest there are often unspoken as well as spoken truths they share.
Tenkara continues to give back to me. Not just as therapy but for a sense of community and connection.
Over the years I have made friendships with people who I normally might disagree with in different circumstances. I have connected with people of different religious backgrounds, different world views and different politics. The common thread being our love of tenkara. Maybe there are other commonalities? Perhaps another trait I can identify in these friends is that they are “givers” in life more than they are “takers”. This is an observation I have made outside of tenkara in other people in my life.
Friendships are not always easy and they can be painful and imperfect. At times my different friendships have faced challenges. There have been times where I have found myself wrapped up in the sorrow of watching a friend work through personal demons. I wanted to be supportive but also needed to find a way to set healthy boundaries. Every friend has their unique challenges that they are facing. I try to be the best friend I can be within my limited abilities. These friends remain in my life and I consider them “true friends”. What always seem to happen despite differences and challenges is that I feel compelled to be there for them as much as they would and have shown they would be there for me.
This last year has been a wonderful celebration of friendships for me on the stream. I got to spend time with friends who I had not seen in a long time, I got to watch another friend take some huge steps in recovery return to fishing again, I got to share in the growth of another friend’s guide business and I made new friends though social media. I have also friends that I only got to meet and see at events but will be excited about seeing again.
We create these circles of friends in other parts of our lives I know. The friendships I have within the tenkara community are ones that I truly value. They nurture me and give me a place to be nurturing to others. I learn from these relationships in ways that these friends may never realize.
At the time that I started writing this blogpost it was all about celebrating the friends that I have made along the way. But alas… I have one less “friend” today than when I started writing this. The ending of that connection changed when I saw that tenkara as a commonality was not enough. It was a difference not so much over political point of view but over the issue of integrity to the truth. Through that person’s cognitive dissonance, they revealed that they were not the person who valued some basic human rights or the value of justice. Perhaps this relationship was not as strong as I had hoped it would have become. Maybe it wasn’t there to begin with. I am okay without this person in my life. It’s not my job to correct them or make them see their ethical errors.
With the above stated I want to doubly take a moment here to thank my friends. They are fine people who have made my life better through my kinship with them in Tenkara. For fear of leaving anyone out I will just say that if you are reading this and we have spoken that you are very likely on that list. You probably already know through our interactions either in person or on line. If I follow you on social media, have had a conversation with you or had the privilege of fishing with you then you know. If we have never met I always have room in my life for one more friend. One more kindred spirit.
Thanks you friends!
I took the liberty of pulling some photos from different places including your social media walls. What a great group of people.
Dennis Vander Houwen lives in Colorado with his patient and supportive wife, talented artist son, a smart older dog, a new river puppy, and a very lucky cat.