Swedish version

by Randy Kadish

  The sunlight shined through the blinds. Time for me to get out of bed. I tried, sort of, but felt weighed down, as if I were a knight, fallen, encased in heavy armor. Was I defeated?

  I pulled the sheets over my head and hoped the new year, 2007, would bring sales of my book, and money so I could finally travel to faraway fishing destinations. But 2006 started with so much hope. What did it bring?

  I thought of the vision test I failed, ending my hopes of becoming a court officer. I thought of all the mistakes in the first printing of my book - the proofreader had fallen down on the job - forcing me to have the book reprinted, at my expense. Two major disappointments. Two major reversals. Was I being punished - trampled on like the knight Don Quixote - for dreaming of doing good? If only the Man of La Mancha had succeeded in making the world a fairer place, then I'd be standing victorious. Wouldn't I?

  I thought of the magazines that bought my stories but, for different reasons, didn't publish their next issues.

  I thought of my two new jobs.

  Three more disappointments, five so far for the year. More than in most novels. And I still wasn't in the final crisis.

  I thought of the GLX fly rod I lost. I thought of the woman from the army.

  Seven disappointments, not quite as many as Don Quixote, but Don wasn't real. Maybe that's why he never had trouble getting out of - or even into - bed. Real or not, I wanted to be more like the Don. Besides, the weather was unusually mild, as if I were in southern Spain. A plus. An opportunity to fish and write myself a better plot-line.

 Lighthouse Park
Lighthouse Park, by Randy Kadish  I rolled out of bed, ready to battle with striped bass. Instead of armor, I took my fly-fishing equipment and headed out the door. Less than an hour later I walked to the north end of Roosevelt Island, and into a scene as beautiful as any in La Mancha. I was in Lighthouse Park. The small park was named after a tall, narrow, stone structure that I knew was not an evil giant.

  I didn't attack.

  Roosevelt Island was about two miles long, and a hundred yards wide. It split the East River - a major migratory route for stripers - in half. North of the island, the river again split, this time around Randall's Island. Half of the river turned eastward, flowed under the Triboro Bridge - a bridge connecting three counties of New York City - and merged with the Long Island Sound. The other half of the river hooked westward, then straightened and flowed out of my view and eventually, I knew, merged with the Hudson River.

  I looked west, across the river, and saw about a half-mile of the Manhattan skyline. Most of the buildings were built in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, eras when New York architects were concerned with cost and function, so though few of the buildings were beautiful, they merged, like bodies of water, and formed a skyline whose whole was greater than its parts. A plus, in my book.

  I turned, looked east and saw an ugly Queens housing project. A minus. Unlike the different shaped and sized buildings of the Manhattan skyline, all the project's brick buildings were cross-shaped and seven-storied. I wished I could be a real Don Quixote and obliterate them. But obliterating them wouldn't be easy, especially because they suddenly looked like giant soldiers - maybe from outer space - all wearing the same uniforms and standing in perfect formation.

  Were they planning an attack, perhaps against the high-income buildings of the Manhattan skyline? Was I standing on another world's - perhaps a parallel universe's - battle line? Would the rules of the Geneva Convention apply?

  They wouldn't have to. The housing project, I remembered, was home to many people. No matter how ugly it was, I didn't want to see it go.

  I set up my fly rod and tied on a white and green deceiver. The wind, not strong but steady, blew from the west. To cut through it, I'd have cast straight back. Still, I was confident I'd again cast over a hundred feet. I faced the housing project and false cast, shooting more and more line. But my casts sagged. My loops opened wide. What was I doing wrong? Or was I, like the pirated Don Quixote, just in a bad sequel? If so, I wanted out, or at least a casting coach, a Sancho Panza so to speak, to keep my casting on the straight and narrow.

  I told myself I shouldn't have stopped practicing long-distance fly casting. After all, Don Quixote, up until his very end, didn't get burned out. Why? Because he had his impossible dream? Didn't I: to become a consistent 100-foot fly caster, and to write casting articles and help other anglers?

  I accelerated my cast, then abruptly stopped it and let go of the line. My deceiver landed only about eighty-feet away. Disappointed, I quickly retrieved. Again I false cast. Again my casts sagged. I cursed. Why, I wondered, after years of casting tribulations, after finally coming to believe I fixed my casting defects, does a new one confront me like a villain? Is this another reversal? Another obstacle? But obstacles are meant to be overcome. Just ask Don Quixote.

  I thought back to the first act of my fly-casting adventures: I tried to decipher fly-casting book after book, then I marched to a lawn and practiced casting, day after day.

  I thought back to the second act: I tried to cast farther than 80 feet. But the fly often hit me. An unexpected reversal. Why? I reread my fly-casting books and learned that I was lowering my rod hand at the end of the cast, and therefore pulling down the fly line. I returned to the lawn, and though I tried not to, I still lowered my rod hand. So four times a week, month after month, I experimented with every part of my cast--stance, trajectory, follow-through--but the fly still hit me. Darn it! Downtrodden, feeling I was at a dead-end, I trudged home, thinking of how foolish Don Quixote was for trying to change the world, and how foolish I was for thinking I could become a 100-foot fly caster.

  And so I wrote another failure into the story line of my life. A few weeks later, this new failure began to chomp away at me, at my self-worth, so I got back on my fly-casting horse and resumed practicing. Then by accident, like a contrived ending, I realized that when I cast with my elbow pointed all the way out, my rod hand moved downward and pulled down the fly line.

  Thrilled with my new discovery, I cast back and forth and watched my long loops tighten and streak like arrows.

  During the next few months I overcame other fly-casting obstacles, and finally I cast a hundred feet! I reached my impossible dream - for a while anyway, because as I fished on Roosevelt Island I realized dreams, or at least some of them, are fleeting.

Roosevelt Island, by Randy Kadish
Roosevelt Island

  Seagulls dived in the East River. Bait fish! Maybe Stripers were chasing them. I cast toward the birds. Again my line sagged. I couldn't reach my target. I cursed, then remembered I wasn't in a real-life tragedy, though, like Don Quixote, I was in publications, including my long-distance fly-casting article. Maybe it held a forgotten solution to my casting defect. And if not - well, I still had faith the new obstacle was something I could overcome. So instead of feeling defeated, I enjoyed fishing and feeling connected, like a bridge, to the beauty all around me.

  Four hours later, as soon as I got home, I started rereading my casting article. About a third of the way through, I read that if my back cast and forward cast formed an angle greater than 180 degrees I probably stopped the rod too late, after it started unloading and losing power. If I back cast parallel to the ground, therefore, I had to forward cast with the same or slightly higher trajectory.

  I rediscovered my solution! My story had a good ending.

  Grateful, I closed my eyes and wondered why casting ten or twenty feet farther was so important to me. Were my casting experiments about more than distance?

  Yes, they were also about coming to believe in an ideal casting form, as absolute as a perfect literary form, like Shakespeare's 29th or 30th sonnet, as absolute as a law of physics, like Special Relativity. But why is, why was that so, so important? Is it because even though the world is riddled by random turns of history and bloodied by wars, the world, or at least our solar system, is also unified by ideals that form a working order? If so, are ideals invisible and so hard to discover for a reason - so I can't invent them in the universe of mind? Why? Is it because what gives ideals meaning is the search for them, the attempt to become in-line with them and then be able to overcome my defects, my obstacles and to connect to the good in the world?

  Isn't that what spirituality is about? Perhaps an ideal, therefore, is a part that can never add up to a whole. And perhaps so am I. That's why when I tried to will things my way I almost always fell off my horse and cursed a world that seemed so unjust.

  But that was then. This is now, and now I'm able to deal with disappointments, one by one, and keep going, like Don Quixote, and to keep believing that there is a working order of things.

  Yes, I believe by the end of the book of my life, the good will outweigh the bad. Randy's historical novel, The Fly Caster Who Tried to Make Peace with the World, is available on Amazon.

Text and photos by Randy Kadish 2007 ©

Randy's historical novel, The Fly Caster Who Tried To Make
Peace With The World
, is available on Amazon.



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