Coming from the 'mad mid-west' I stumble humble when I try to explain this -
The further away I get from population centers the friendlier the folks get.
My fishing journey had taken me far, yet I had other ambitions. Like John Steinbeck (Travels With Charley) or Charles Kuralt (On the Road) I wanted to just watch people - just sit back, observe and listen. Modern myth still held that people in different regions had notably different customs, thoughts, traditions, manner of dress and manner of speech. For better or worse I found that not to be true. As I suspected, the homogenization of America which began decades ago with a McDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks and Walmart in just about every town with 5,000 or more souls has simply bleached all local color to the blandness of a grey plastic Walmart shopping bag. Add to that the copy-me, copy-you grey matter acid wash of television, radio and other media and you have a single-minded culture speaking a single, no-color language, dressing pretty much the same no matter where you go.
There were exceptions, however.
"Kaycee's unofficial motto is "2 bars, 4 churches, 1 hooker and a nice cemetery".
Take Folks in Kaycee, Wyoming for example. Kaycee's most recent population count puts it at around 269 residents. Add to that about 40 or so perpetual transients - campers, drifters, bikers, cowboys, ranchers, truckers, oil-workers and crop duster pilots and you still don't have what you or I would call a town. Kaycee's unofficial motto is "2 bars, 4 churches, 1 hooker and a nice cemetery". For modern conveniences they lack plenty. Some still burn wood and coal for heat in what can be unbelievably cold winters (Kaycee's record low is 45 degrees below zero in 1949). And the local river has a nasty habit of flooding now and then and takes a few houses away with it. But these folks have something special - they have community. Sure, everybody knows everyone's first name, last name, nick name, kids names, dogs names, frogs name, birthdays, everyone's great grandfather, grandfather, father or son and which wars they fought in, wedding day, divorce day, medical history, what beer they drink, what booze they drink, what they smoke and what they chew. Those last few items may even apply to some of the kids.
Ask for something and you'll get it but most of the time you'll never have to ask. These are hard working 'get-r-done' folks with hearts as big as their smiles.
"There is a second silent language spoken through the eyes in a face-to-face conversation".
Another thing I noticed - Even though just about everybody has one, you won't see them staring at their cell phones while you're talking or asking a question like, "Where the hell am I?". Their sense of self-importance isn't blown off the planet like a lot of city folks because everyone in the community is important in one way or another. Born country or adopted to it they'd rather talk to your face and they know there is a second silent language spoken through the eyes in a conversation. It's an art obviously lost in a one-dimensional phone call.
One other thing, you better know who's who at the Friday night rodeos. - WES:::
Fishermen often disguise the names of lovely fishing places.
For Paradise Lost is a bitter pill. A clue to the creek's real name is in this story.
Recently I had the brief but extreme pleasure to fish what I'll call "Spirit Creek" in central Wyoming. To be honest that's not it's real name, but for the sake of the story let's go with it.
Spirit Creek flows beneath one of the few natural bridges in the world with water flowing under it. The rock bridge is part of the 280 million year old Casper Sandstone Formation and arches 50 feet over the creek and is 100 feet long. Under the bridge are two gentle cascades that form two pools. The trout are in the pools. To say it in other words, the creek is a freestone dream stream located in a cool, green grotto with the songs of warblers and the shrill kleeer of Yellow-shafted Flickers out in the middle of thousands and thousands of acres of rolling hills, horse-tail grass and sage.
"The creek is a freestone dream stream located in a cool, green grotto with the songs of warblers and the shrill 'kleeer!' of Yellow-shafted Flickers."
The creek gave me trout at the base of a shear, vertical 150 foot tall amphitheater wall of red and gray sandstone. It was almost Eden-like and for two days, other than the presence of day-hiker/photographers and a picnic bunch I caught myself more than once believing I was simply in a dream.
But Spirit Creek has its dark sides. Indian lore tells of a time that an Indian brave was stuck by lightning near the bridge. He was killed instantly and his people believed that an evil spirit, a "King of Beasts," lived beneath the bridge and had swallowed the life of their proud warrior. From then on, the Indians would not go near the bridge for fear of the spirit. The area surrounding the bridge is also a county park that literally swarms with dozens of restless campers on weekends.
For the two days I fished it in near solitude Spirit Creek was magical. But, now inundated with the harsh cacophony of the clueless campers, the wildness and magic had vanished. What a wonderful world such would be that careless campers believed in evil spirits beneath bridges. That this place may become as paradise again. - WES:::
A simple tune for June. Then again, June is like that.
I Fish Therefore I...
...hear nothing and everything at the same concise moment,
...distance my consciousness from all memory,
...extend hope to all of its infinite probabilities.
...fold down worry and concern like tattered old comforters and stash them away for seasons of another age.
...spent a lifetime honing just one miracle cast, and, accomplishing that...
...focus talon-sharp on the four square inches that surround my fly as it glides in perfect union with a glassy current.
...Am, I say, and...
...dismiss myself from the passing of time. - WES:::
"Each work begins and ends of its own will. Each, therefore, is wild..."
Whether it is writing, painting, photography or film, I wish my works to remain in the realm of the amateur. There is a reason for my self-demotion. It's simply because I have so little control of the end result.
Each piece begins of its own motivation. Each ends of its own will. Each, therefore, is wild and so very much like a watercolor - when paint is applied with washes of water, the result can never be completely controlled. Done well the result is sublime.
Professionals can rarely be successful with that kind of uncertainty. I rely almost completely on it. - WES:::
Not too very long ago Henry David Thoreau wrote a short quip that goes as follows, "In Wildness is the preservation of the World". If what Thoreau said is true then the preservation of the World seems horribly in trouble. From the air we breath to the land we walk upon to the rivers we fish and find our souls in; all are losing their battles to preserve their essential wildness. What troubles me the most is that nobody seems to care. As an American fly angler and traveler I set out on a multi-year tour in a 30 ft motor-home called "River Gypsy" to seek out and fish the most beautiful wild rivers of the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. Basically, I wanted to see for myself what was going on and to fish my way through the best (or worst) of it.
"An undisturbed river is as perfect a thing as we will ever know..." ~ Thomas McGuane
I'm hardly the first. The true great fly-fishers and river explorers that come to mind are Roderick Haig-Brown (1908 - 1976) and Ernest G. Schwiebert (1931–2005). They are each in their unique way my hero's and have been for decades. Each wrote not only of the successes and trials of their fishing, but also of the beauty of the lands and the rivers they visited and their romances with them. As archetypical traveling fishermen they were The First of Us and the rivers they fished world-wide were still essentially wild.
Here's my first impression to date: In the wildness of my eyes I've seen the worrisome and persistent drought of southern Texas and New Mexico. I've seen rivers bottled up with massive earthen dams to create muddy reservoirs for irrigation; the rivers and their hundreds of tributaries now utterly dry. I've seen rivers and lakes stocked with fish that never belonged there. But worst of all, I've seen the usual assortment of pop bottles and beer cans along the shorelines of otherwise breathtakingly beautiful streams. Too many. What brings anyone's mind to think 'this wild place is the perfect spot to throw my garbage' is beyond me.
I'm hopeful I'll yet see and fish beautiful, wild rivers on my journey. But what if I don't? What will become of us when the last pristine river is polluted, it's clean, cold crystalline liquid now colored and brown and warm, it's life smothered by silt, neglect and beer cans? Will we stop fishing altogether? With fly rod in hand each of us still have a chance to connect with, confirm and celebrate the one all-important need that we share with Thoreau - that wild places still exist. Do it now. When the end of beauty comes, will it take with it the last of us? - WES:::
In Michigan the last weekend in April means shaking off winter in style and that's exactly
what writer Charles Sams invites us to do. Enjoy!
The morning of February 20th my vehicle thermometer read -20 Fahrenheit. I never thought I would say for two straight winters that it has been too cold to ice fish. I thought about the irony of plowing through two-foot snow banks in my undershirt and waders three years ago on the Upper Manistee. I don’t think we hooked any fish that day but the sunshine sure felt good on my face and it was incredible to see the world come alive from its winter sleep. It felt like summer but sure looked like winter.
The fog settles in as the snow melts off and covers the little valley that the East Branch of the Au Sable flows through. I can’t see the hundred year old, hundred foot tall white pines but I know they are there. I wonder if there is any use in fishing yet because I won’t be able to see the bushy tan caddis I have selected as an attractor/strike indicator. I know the fish can see a prince nymph but it’s hard to keep the drift drag free and stay tight enough to it to strike on an upstream cast when you can’t see the dry. The fog had lifted by the time we suited up and rigged our rods. I remember that tan caddis and prince nymph fooling some fish. The East Branch is tight and I remember a downstream drift, one where you can just shake out line until the fly is over the hole, worked better.
"I hear "Fish on!" from just downstream by the bridge and turn to see a ghostly figure..."
We stood around in the campground drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and watching three foot snow drifts melt. The gal who runs the place came out and said, "You should have been here yesterday. You would not have been able to get to the campsites". It feels good to be out of the house after the long winter and I can't tell if I am shivering because the sun is going down or in anticipation of opening day. You tell old stories about places you've fished, the ones that got away, and that time you fell in over at McMaster's Bridge. The hole was so deep you had to breast stroke out of that one, thank goodness it was August. Falling in the river while fly fishing is a rite of passage, like being baptized in the name of the fishing gods.
We stood at the top of the stairs and watched trout rise in the bubble line off the end of a little dock. The cars whizzed by out on M-72 and a dog barked at one of the cottages across the road. It was a rare Hendrickson and olive hatch on opening day. We crossed over and I was able to get set up and pick off a brookie and a brown right off the bat. I sat against a 4X4 retaining wall in front of a canoe livery and just took things in for a while. The canoeists and tubers obviously were not expecting this weather the last weekend in April or it would have been much busier.
We stood at the same stairs a year later and turned our heads away from the wind and the stinging little ice pellets. The sun was gone and so were the bugs. I like that bubble line in front of the dock so I throw an olive bugger down and across on a floating line and strip it back. Nothing. I turn away from the wind, pull the hood of my jacket around my face, and change flies to a black leech. I hear "Fish on!" from just downstream by the bridge and turn to see a ghostly figure with a doubled fly rod working his way down. The rod throbs in his hand and the fish boils, and damn it's a good one. I throw my rod down on the bank, the same bank I sunned on the previous year, and pull my net off the magnet. Then, just as quickly as it was there, it's gone. Ice pellets are landing on our faces, melting, and running down onto our smiles.
The thermometer on the car reads +19 Fahrenheit this morning. It's getting warm enough to ice fish now so opening day of trout season must not be far off. I don't have time to ice fish. I have to get things ready. It won't be long now until I have another opening day story to tell.
Chuck Sams lives in South Lyon, Michigan near the banks of the Huron River and its smallmouth bass. He is the recent winner of the Trout Unlimited 10 Special Places essay contest. He is also the author of a book of cowboy stories called Winner Rides Away available at Amazon.com and a new and upcoming Detroit private eye series entitled Detroit Gumshoe.
This is Chuck's 2nd contribution to The QE Journal. Can't wait for more.
For March the QE Journal offers another stirring work by river gypsy Shawn Chalker.
Shawn writes of a fine addiction many of us know all too well.
Your goal might have been to get back to letting your family know you're still alive. You're sorry a little bit for all the time you've spent away, promising you would call next time you're out. But what you must know is fly-fishing is an incurable disease. Doctors don't have the slightest idea how to treat it, besides telling you to go fishing more often. Eventually they give in also and join the boys down at the local watering hole. There, the stories are endless and they are told into the middle of the night. Memories are treasured things and are all stored in the appropriate places, but for a dyed-in-the-wool fly fishing guru it is much, much more than that.
"And, yes, we do tend to drink too much of the water."
Some say we've gone insane and, yes, we do tend to drink too much of the water. For long periods we stand waist-deep in a cold, crystal river trying as we might to become one with nature. Words cannot even begin to describe the true beauty of fly fishing and nature. We are maniacal little creatures; the beaver spends his days whittling away on wood, as fly fishermen we whittle our days looking for that next bridge to cross. We neglect everything in life that is supposed to be important – our families, our relationships, and some of us, our jobs. We tie flies looking for the next Judas that will trick a fish into thinking, "Hey, that looks good enough to eat."
At the first light of dawn you glide into the river and tie on a size #20 Blue Winged Olive that took you five minutes to make. You strip out enough line and you wiggle your rod a little to loosen up the muscles and get a firm grip on the cork. Then you take a deep breath and proceed to pick line up from the water to throw your first cast. Three beautiful false casts later you're in the brush across the stream!
This is the life of a fly-fisherman. You spend the whole day without a hook-up or even see a fish rise. After a long day on the river you're exhausted from all of the casts you've made and your shoulder aches. But nothing can remove that permanent smile from your face as you drive home and wonder in the back of your mind what kind of story you can come up with to tell your buddies when you get there.
Shawn Chalker is a religiously devout fly fisherman and fly tyer who calls Royal Oak, Michigan, his home base. He has fished in every part of the United States and occasionally fishes Ireland and Scotland.
This is Shawn's 2nd contribution to The QE Journal.
I'm not the same having seen trout rise on the other side of the world. Now, blessed
and forever, I am a river gypsy.
Some prose-poetry/photo fusion for February.
The river is forever falling as are the dews and rains that create it. The river is life and the river is living and its trout are forever rising. The river is present, it is transient and it is eternal...
The river present can be enough. It comes from the secret spheres of commonplace clouds adorned and decorated with the mists of heavenly light.
It once was the River Yonder. It can be enough. It once was just right.
The river past can be enough. The looking glass river looking at me, look at it, look at me. It was the river our honored fathers fished. Flies we think fussy lighted on the river transient.
It once was the River Yonder. It once was enough. It once was just right.
The river of desire will be enough. Out beyond the further but just within the reach. Brooklet upon the mountainside, little river amid silent solitudes, big water; all rich in memory, each rich in hope.
It is the River Yonder. It will be enough. It will be just right. River Yonder." - WES:::
"By such a river it is impossible to believe that one will ever be tired or old. Every sense applauds it. Taste it, feel its chill on the teeth: it is purity absolute. Watch its racing current, its steady renewal of force: it is transient and eternal."
~ Wallace Stegner, from "Overture: The Sound of Mountain Water"" - Doubleday, 1969
For January the QE Journal offers a poignant work by Michigan river gypsy Shawn Chalker.
In second-person narration Shawn writes of the bitter hardships and sweet rewards
of steelhead fishing on the cold, often lonely rivers of Michigan.
It is a cold gray winter morning as you awaken. You run to the kitchen to start up the morning coffee. Then go and flip on the tube to get your nations weather report. It isn't looking good for you today. But this is the only day you have time to go fishing. You sit around awhile drinking your coffee, watching the birds at your feeders and wonder how does a bird that small eat three pounds of food a day. Your mind is wandering a million miles a minute, although this could stem from the caffeine induced jolt your body just took. You then jump into a scalding hot shower to loosen up the muscles that aren't quite awake yet. Then proceed to dress in way too many layers of clothing to keep warm while you're out on the river.
Arriving at the river you notice that nobody else is around. Too cold for the rookies you guess. Only a madman would try and go fishing on a day like today anyway. The snow is three feet deep, the water is running a bit high but clear, the wind is blowing out of the north which you estimate at around 40 mph, and you are casting straight into it no matter where you stand. You are now hoping to catch the most beautiful of fish species – a steelhead.
"Only a madman would try and go fishing on a day like today."
This is a fish that can drive anyone into sheer ecstasy. A silver bullet of a fish powered by pure adrenaline with magnificent crimson stripes running down its sides. You rig up your rod "indy" style, proceeding to fish a dead-drift presentation. Your fingers go numb tying knots, putting split-shot on the line and then open your fly box to put on a fly of choice. You think today that they will like a yellowish-pink yarn egg. After rigging up your rod you reach into your pack and pour yourself some more coffee to get the blood running back into your cold, hard veins. After you have finished, you walk and pick out that little piece of pocket water that you're sure will hold a fish. You make the first step into the water and a shiver of cold runs up your spine and your feet go instantly numb. The water temperature is a mere 38 degrees according to your thermometer. You begin to roll-cast your presentation to the fish with precision mending then stack mending on top through your drift. No take. Working the water thoroughly for a while you pick a new spot and move on.
"There is weight at the other end of your rod as it pulsates back and forth."
On your first cast in this new section and halfway through your drift your indicator slightly dimples the waters surface and you set the hook. There is weight at the other end of your rod as it pulsates back and forth. The fish is lethargic at first because it doesn't realize that someone at this point is pulling back causing tension. The fish soon wakes up and breaks the surface bull-dogging its way up river. You let the fish take some line being careful not to break the six-pound tippet – the only link between you and the fish.
After a brief but tough battle you have the fish whipped and soon into your net. You remove the hook from its upper jaw and say a prayer of thanks to him as he slowly swims back into the depths of the river. Sitting there a moment catching your breath you begin to look around to see if anyone has noticed you.
But it's just you and nature.
Your secret is safe for that moment.
You feel alone and head back home.
Shawn Chalker is a religiously devout fly fisherman and fly tyer who calls Royal Oak, Michigan, his home base although he has fished all over, across, and in every part of the United States.
This is Shawn's first contribution to The QE Journal.
The QE Journal is proud to publish this true story by Michigan writer Juli Wilson.
Juli writes with a colorful, powerful and very intelligent style that is captivating and very enjoyable. And, best of all, it is from a woman's point of view. Enjoy!
As any angler knows, rivers have the power to heal a multitude of ills that come with living in our disordered, chaotic world. I've always been drawn to rivers, even in my pre-fishing days, but the wading part that comes with fly fishing…that slow-motion, breath-holding glide into the river through clouds of flying aquatic life, over and into the boulders and the gravel and the silt and the water's unfathomable power...that's where the real medicine is.
We tend to think of a river's therapeutic power as a tranquil commune with nature, and more often than not, it is. But rivers can also offer a far different sort of healing.
"I felt a fear of rivers for the first time..."
A few summers back, I pulled into the parking lot on the southwest bank of the Madison River in the late August twilight, just upstream from Three Dollar Bridge. Several cars were leaving as I was stepping into my waders, and the anticipation of having a big chunk of river all to myself was causing my adrenalin levels to rise. I pulled my gear together and made my way down to the river's edge, passing all the guys just ending their day on the river, the colors of the fading sunset reflecting on their faces as they headed back to their vehicles and their everyday worlds. I have to admit, I rather enjoyed the looks of surprise and respect as they nodded in polite camaraderie, as if to mark the novelty of a lone female angler out for a night of fishing on a far-from-tame western river (which really shouldn't be considered such a novelty these days, but that's another story...). Above, the infinite Montana sky was a glowing palette, from ultramarine in the east to pale turquoise in the west…a perfect evening to spend on the water, with only my own peaceful thoughts (and with luck, a few trout) as company.
This stretch of the Madison has rock-strewn, scrubby, muddy banks, marked by numerous sinkholes hidden by tall grasses. I maneuvered carefully upriver in the dimming evening light, along what could loosely be described as a path, much as one might pick their way through a minefield. Since I hadn't packed my wading staff for this trip, I relied on gingerly poking the grasses ahead with the reel end of my rod, checking for solid ground. I failed to avoid one particularly nasty hole, and the black muck claimed my right leg up past the kneecap. With my boot feeling 10 pounds heavier than normal, I wasted precious fishing time extricating myself from that thick, limb-sucking ooze. Weary of the trek in mind and body, I decided this was as good a spot as any to wade on out and cast a line.
"In the gloom, the Madison had undergone a transformation too, from a lively, inviting, play of moving light to a dark, pulsing mass - a wild, wide band of perpetual motion, at once ominous, exhiliarating and mesmerizing."
Night falls very quickly under those fabled big skies. By the time I'd settled into knee-deep water a couple of yards out and made my first cast, the sky had lost its former glow and gone almost black. In the gloom, the Madison had undergone a transformation too, from a lively, inviting play of moving light to a dark, pulsing mass, a wild, wide band of perpetual motion, at once ominous, exhilarating and mesmerizing. A bit spooked by the deepening dark, but undaunted and determined, I switched on my halogen headlamp and fished on.
The breeze shifted, coming broadside to my rod, so I made to adjust position and move a bit further from the brushy, fly-snagging bank. Misjudging depth and current in the reflected light of my headlamp, I took one step too far. Balancing thigh-deep on a bed of ankle-twisting, melon-sized stones, packed together like marbles in a jar, my legs already taxed by the struggle with the sinkhole, I felt a fear of rivers for the first time ever. The pounding, inky water fought my intrustion with fervor, and tried its best to knock me off my feet. It almost succeeded, nearly pushing me to my knees as water rose up past the belt of my waders. In a flash of self-recrimination I cursed having left my wading staff back home in Michigan. With a death-grip on my rod, I somehow caught my balance and managed to gain a wide stance, wedging my boots between boulders to remain moderately steady. I took a deep breath, said a few choice words, then leaned into the force of flow and held in place several seconds, stock-still, to unscramble my senses before carefully, slowly edging out of the current's grip.
"I imagined the speed with which my hapless body would move, my waders filling as I gulped the Madison..."
I was safe. But damage to my plan for a relaxing evening of fishing had been done; the excitement and anticipation of a potentially awesome catch had been drowned out by foreboding visions of going down completely—try as I might to banish the thoughts, I imagined the speed with which my hapless body would move, my waders filling as I gulped the Madison up in frantic efforts to take in air and stay afloat, with nary a soul on the bank to hear any cry for help I might muster. I couldn't stop thinking back to all the times before when I had tempted fate by foolhardy wading thigh- or waist-deep, often across unknown riverbeds, almost always solo.
The shivers I felt then had little to do with the cool night air or water temperature. Do all who wade turbulent waters experience a similar waking nightmare at some point, I wondered? And how ironic to use such a benign, agreeable word as "wade" when describing such endeavors! I turned back toward the haven of the riverbank, found a precarious foothold in the relatively calm shin-deep shallows, and slowly regained enough confidence, peace of mind, and control over my wobbly legs to stay the course and fish as planned. Better to untangle a few errant flies from the bushes than for someone to have to untangle my lifeless body from submerged debris, miles downriver.
Whether I caught any trout that night is irrelevant—I don't even recall if I did or didn't. I gained something more important: a new-found respect for the river's power, and for my own vulnerability and mortality. I had been healed from a nearly-terminal case of hubris, as well as a pretty hefty dose of stupidity...and been spared by the river-goddess to wade another day.
Juli Wilson is a pediatric occupational therapist by workday, and an escapist angler by weekend. A Wyoming/California native, her body currently lives in Michigan but her soul resides in Scotland, Ireland, and various points west of the Great Plains.
This is Juli's first contribution to The QE Journal and hopefully we'll enjoy many more.
I was a lucky one. I was able to escape. Somewhere along the dizzying and long train track of life I got derailed. For a man there are a dozen ways this sort of thing can happen from chasing skirts to chasing the corporate carrot, from chasing ego to chasing efficiency. I was young, the hormonal blinders were on and when I stopped after a couple of decades (and a couple of train-wrecks) to take a look around I found I was lost. I was far from the person I needed to be. The biggest trouble is – I sat derailed for a big part of my life. But, I've learned that this was part of the process.
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." ~ Henry David Thoreau
If you're really lucky you'll have a core - a solid sliver of you that you'll recognize as having always been there. For me that core has always been fly fishing in all of it's inspiring manifestations. It didn't take a lot of life re-imagining to figure it out. There has been a lot of play to personal re-invention these days and it's appealing on many levels. Many want and have good cause to start over. Empty nester's, retirees, those with chronic health issues all have a drive to drop the past and go deliberately forward. But, I'm not talking just moving the furniture around. I'm talking transformation – and utter new beginnings.
One thing I've learned though - to truly start over means one must erase 95% of your past. That's right – obliterate it, sell it, throw it out. Photos, furniture, memorials of all kinds that hold you down, and caustic people, have to go away. Sometimes it's a hard thing to do but it has to be done. Does a Monarch remember it was once a caterpillar? That last 5% will be your sliver – your seed of a new beginning – and the very best of friends, memories and values you hold dear.
Henry David Thoreau said, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation." Living in quiet desperation is not living. Begin again. – WES:::
The following is from A Deliberate Life, a fly-fishing film by SILO4, RockHouse Motion
"It's easy to lose sight of what's important – family, health, passions, pastimes – you pick your head up and suddenly you realize twenty years of your life has simply passed you by. It's easy to get swallowed up and just keep giving more and more of your blood, sweat and tears in return for less, and less happiness. The truth is, no one owes you happiness. It's up to you to find it. To be deliberate about your priorities and how you live your life. It's not easy. You've got to fight for it. But you have to fight to make a living anyhow. If you're in corporate America, if you're in the trades, self-employed, un-employed...it doesn't matter. You have to fight. So, why wouldn't you fight for what you're passionate about? - family, friends, faith, happiness – for what's really important?"