The Struggles of Modern Day Explorers
Humans didn't transition out of the stone age until about 5,000 years ago and we likely have changed more in the last 100 years than the rest of that time combined. Especially in places like the United States, more specifically the lower 48. Not only have we changed ourselves, we have changed our environment around us to such a degree, we largely no longer have to struggle to survive in the traditional sense. Life is no longer about hunting and reproducing, despite the fact many Men would love to think it still is. Society as a whole is much more civilized, being emotionally connected to those around you is actually necessary to survive in most cases. One can no longer deal with a disdain for his fellow man by disappearing into the wilds to live the "Mountain Man" life any longer, despite the fact some TV shows would like to lead you to believe otherwise.
As humans, we are hard-wired to seek out adventure, in both a biological and genetic sense. Some have this "sense of adventure" much more so than others and recent studies have shown this thrill-seeking desire can play itself out in many ways. What was once an attribute to make some people more apt to surviving the daily struggles to feed themselves or reproduce in the times of the hunter gatherer lifestyle has now become a monkey on our backs in modern day society. Some become adrenaline junkies, hucking themselves out of airplanes facing near death experiences to feed their brains pleasure center with dopamine, adrenaline and endorphins. Some sadly become actual junkies using drugs or alcohol as a means to fuel this overzealous part of our brains and many more use a combination of such activities. The latter can range widely and many people will grow out of this phase as they age and their busy minds calm down, allowing them to settle into modern day life and spend the rest of their days content with the rather lame existence humans are expected to live in this so called civilized 1st World existence many look at as an accomplishment of our species.
I have spent a lot of time in my life travelling around this country fueling this over-active pleasure center of mine, without a doubt the greatest thrill I have ever known is exploring new places, encountering new lands and staying on the move. In the angling community this would be known as "next-bend" syndrome and when we combine this with the possibility of connecting ourselves to another living being from an underwater World, our pleasure center tells us we need more as it takes in the rush of goodness our brain creates during these experiences. All things considered, spending time in the outdoors, especially fly fishing in wild and free places could be one of the most idealistic forms of treatment we have to fuel these pleasure centers and losing these places could be considered a public health epidemic.
When you really think about it, few things in life cater to our most basic and complicated needs we as humans could ever have as fly fishing does. Everything from our desire to explore, seek adventure, understand the natural World around us. All the while immersing ourselves in it along with keeping our mind, body and soul fed with the very things it needs to keep us healthy. Eye-hand coordination is common place in fly fishing, have you ever thought about how much exercise our brain gets from wading or floating down a rocky stream or gliding across a salt flat all the while taking into account wind, water-flow and the multitude of other things necessary to properly present a fly to a non-stationary target? I honestly cannot think of anything in life that would utilize so many different aspects of our abilities as a species than fly fishing and it's likely why many of us "busy-minded" people adore this sport as we do. Deep down we know it's not only enjoyable, it's good for us too.
So, while we may not have the ability to disappear into the vast amounts of wilderness we once could, we still have wilderness and we still have the ability to personally see things for the first time as the explorers of the past once did. This leaves the true struggle of modern-day explorers not to explore per say, but to protect, enhance and increase the number of wild places we have at our disposal and to help our fellow man experience these things. If for nothing else to ensure we as explorers have help in protecting these places for ourselves and generations to come. As I see it, fly fishing guides just might be at the fore-front of this struggle accompanied by sportsman, environmentalists and thrill seekers Worldwide. What we must all get past is the us versus them mentality that hinders us from seeing these things through exactly as we are, a common group of humans fighting to prevent this public health crisis from poisoning us all. To all of you, I encourage you to embrace one another and keep up the fight as in the end, we are all we have, and all these wild places have as well...