Monday, October 18, 2010

Lake Report: Paradox and Random Events

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I went back to the lake last week for a second day in a row, and the lake was just as it has always been, and completely changed.
It's a paradox: two truths, equally true, yet seemingly contradictory. Some people believe in fairies; I believe in paradox, and I mean belief in its root meaning: "letting be." I used to drive myself crazy trying to reconcile paradoxes until I learned to simply accept them.
Fishing--or, more precisely, the fish--teach you that pretty quickly. You simply can't catch fish at will. What works one day doesn't work the very next day. You accept that, or you take up golf.
But the human race in general has never been good with paradox. Somehow we must make things be the way we want them to be rather than accept them the way they are. So we damn the unpredictable and uncontrollable, and thereby dam rivers.
We invented time to cast control over the paradoxical universe, to explain rationally the changes we see around us and so claim control of them. Thus the changes I saw in the lake in the space of twenty-four hours were due to the passage of time. So, too, the changes I see between the lake in Spring and the lake in Fall.
But the concept of time is based on linearity, and there is nothing linear about the lake or the universe we live in. Chaos theory gets closer to the truth of things: change simply pops up here, there, and everywhere, seemingly random and unconnected events, which yet form a pattern, that--pattern within countless patterns--forms the whole of what is. Change doesn't flow like a river; it bubbles up like springs, creating the new in the midst of the old. The natural world, like the universe, isn't going somewhere; it's expanding, building on itself, becoming what it always was, and is, and will be.
And it's happening right under my canoe. For example:
The wind was blowing hard from the south, so I went to the south end where I haven't been in awhile, and where, on windy days, there is some shelter.
I cast the Bomber into the riffles. It had worked great the day before, but not this day. It swam back to me each time rejected and forlorn. So I tied on the CDC caddis and hooked one little trout.
More fish were rising farther back in the south end just where the riffles gave way to calmer water, so I paddled over.
There were some good fish there, rising lazily and confidently. As I stripped in the CDC caddis for another cast this Brown took it. I was glad I had remembered the net.
I stayed with the caddis and caught a few more small fish.
And then this beauty.
It was getting cooler and the quick slide to darkness had begun when I hooked another Brown. I believe it was the fish of the day, but as I reached for the net I noticed it was gone. It must have slipped off my lap into the water as I was trying to handle that big Rainbow. I often wondered if it would float.
No.
When I attempted to lift the Brown into the canoe the fly came out and he was gone. But not forgotten.
So here's the quiz:
     1. How many random events can you find in the above account?
        (Answer: All of them.)
     2. How would you describe the whole formed by the totality of these random events?
        (Answer: A great time on the water.)

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