Tenkara and Gratitude: A Letter in a Slightly Different Formatby Graham Moran December 19, 2013 2 comments
What follows is a letter that I wrote to a number of different people. Some of it might get a little mushy in spots, and I will warn you, but I only ask that you read the complete letter. I am also writing this as a post so that it might be shared with the world at large and the Tenkara community in particular.
To Daniel Galhardo, Chris Hunt, Anthony Naples, my wife Elizabeth Flores, my parents, Karel Lansky, and you, my loyal readers,
We all have dreams and aspirations as we grow up, as well as those of our parents for our lives. Some of us wanted to be doctors, lawyers, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, and even massage therapists. Then there were the things that we were interested in but didn’t have the confidence to pursue or self-limited ourselves to do. Some people were very outgoing and took chances whenever they presented themselves and then some didn’t even remotely consider taking those chances.
I am here to tell you that for me personally a lot has happened recently that made me think about these things on more than a superficial basis. (Here comes mushy part one, just a warning!) Growing up I had dreams of helping people out in different ways whether physically or mentally. Ironically, I was not one of those individuals who was terribly outgoing, nor did I take to many chances or risks.
I was always a voracious reader who literally read about any and all subjects, fiction or non-fiction. The more I read the more I wanted to be a writer, yet I always discounted my abilities as a viable writer, thus I did not ever actively pursue writing. Yet there was always that little voice in the back of my head that told me to try it and see what happened if I did start writing actively. So I did start writing, in a personal diary, about my feelings and about the events that occurred around me. Being a diary, I never shared my writings with anyone else and self-edited my own feelings.
Time passed like it does for everyone, days melted into weeks that were then molded into months, which morphed into years, yet my writing didn’t nor did my fear of taking chances. And then one day everything changed because of something astounding that I found in a magazine I was flipping through.
Since many of you may have already read about this I will keep it short, and for those of you who want to know more about it, there is a link at the bottom of this post that will help you to understand what I mean.
Flipping through the magazine, I came across an ad for a company called Tenkara USA. The ad stated that a person could fly fish using a collapsible fishing rod, a fixed line, a piece of tippet, and a fly, and there were no requirements for a reel. My eyes brightened at a style of fly fishing that required so little. Excitedly, and maybe even a little impulsively, I went to the Tenkara USA website and ordered a rod after a bit of research on what to purchase. I placed my order and then waited impatiently for my equipment to arrive.
Not longer after that first order arrived, (mushiness part two) I spent a day fishing with someone who I now consider a very close friend, Mr. Karel Lansky. Karel and I went fishing on a local stream that he had been fishing using the Tenkara rod he had purchased sometime before I purchased my own.
While fishing with Karel there was a subtle shift that occurred within me which has brought me to today….
Having picked up Tenkara and getting tips from Karel as we moved along the stream I decided that maybe starting a blog on my experiences would be an interesting endeavor. Yet my confidence in my writing was still very limited so I made the decision to write for myself and make my blog my own online diary about my Tenkara experiences. With the decision made, I wracked my brains for a name for my blog. Once I had hashed out the possibilities, the TenkaraGrasshopper was born.
I started writing about my experiences as a Tenkara angler, exploring many different aspects of the practice of this ancient yet modern style of fly fishing. I wrote every post for myself and started sharing those posts with my friends in the Tenkara community. I was pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback that I got from those first few posts. Everyone that responded said that they enjoyed reading what I had to say and some even stated that the thing that most attracted them to my writings was the fact that I did not write in what many would consider a canned style of writing.
I continued writing and my readership grew each and every day, which it still does with the help of all of you. My postings have sometimes been a little emotional and even political, yet I have always come back to the true meaning of TenkaraGrasshopper. That was always my goal and will be till the end of my days.
At the beginning of last year, another person who I consider to be a great friend, as well as a fellow blogger, Mr. Chris Hunt, sent me a message letting me know that the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) was accepting bloggers as members. To become a member of this storied and powerful group, a person applying as an active member needed a sponsor and Chris offered to be my sponsor since he had been reading my blog and was apparently impressed with what I was doing. I dragged my feet and started thinking about the possibility of joining an organization of professional writers wondering if I could fill the shoes of a professional outdoor writer.
After much consideration, and a few conversations with the most beautiful Commanding Officer (CO) and wife, Elizabeth Flores, I decided to become an active member of the OWAA. And I can now say that it was probably one of the best decisions that I could have ever made. I met some great people as soon as I became a member of this group and I still do on a consistent basis.
I continued to write for my blog and always thought about writing an article for a magazine sometime in the future as my confidence in my writing improved. In a strange twist of fate, the thought of writing that article came one day with two e-mails from two individuals who I give the utmost credit to for helping me develop my writing, Mr. Daniel Galhardo, the owner of Tenkara USA, and Anthony Naples, of www.castingaround.com. The e-mails stated that Tenkara USA was considering putting out a one-of-a-kind Tenkara magazine. The e-mails also stated that submissions would be accepted yet the magazine was in the idea stage and that nothing was to be said about this potential project.
My brain started spinning as I read the e-mails and then I decided that I would at least submit a possible idea for an article. Once I sent my message, with a bit of trepidation, I waited patiently for a response from Daniel or Anthony. I have to admit I was very excited about the possibility of writing an article for a Tenkara only magazine. I checked my e-mails from my phone quite frequently until the day I got a response from Anthony letting me know that he wanted me to write the article and submit it to him. He did make it clear that there were going to be submissions that wouldn’t necessarily make it into the magazine because of space limitations, and not to be offended if it didn’t happen with my article.
I wrote the article and submitted it to Anthony and waited until the day he contacted me asking if I would mind if he did a little editing on my article. I gave him permission to do what he needed to with the article if it was up for consideration for inclusion in the magazine. Anthony did the editing and sent his revisions to me to make sure that it was what I had in mind. The magic that he performed on my article was awe inspiring to me and made me very happy.
Then time seemed to stand still to find out what was going to happen next on my odyssey with my writing. The wait has come to an end, and I can tell you that I am pleased that the editors of the first Tenkara only magazine published in English by Tenkara USA which is now available for purchase. You can find out more by following the link included below to order the magazine.
I am still reeling from looking at the writers and photographers that are included in this first edition of what I hope will be a long running project by the minds at Tenkara USA. I am greatly honored yet don’t feel worthy to be included in a publication that is not so much a magazine as a coffee table edition to be read over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in front of a fire. Seldom does an individual, who is aspiring to be an outdoor writer, find themselves in the company of such Tenkara greats as Jason Klass, Steven Schweitzer, Daniel Galhardo, TJ Ferreira, Vito “Tsurikichi” Rubino, Morgan Lyle, Paul Vertrees, and many more.
With the release of the Tenkara Magazine and my first published article, (Mushy part three, and I promise the last, at least in this post) I want to thank all the people who have a very special place in my heart when it comes to my immersion into Tenkara.
Daniel Galhardo for bringing Tenkara to the United States and opening the doors to an amazing style of fly fishing that we can all enjoy. If it had not been for you Daniel I would never have become the angler that I am today nor would I have shared my writings with others in the world.
Karel Lansky for going out Tenkara fishing with a total newbie, sharing his day and hard won knowledge with me. Thanks buddy, you are a truly amazing person and you will always remain on my list of people who have made my life so cool.
Chris Hunt, I still don’t know how to thank you for being my sponsor when I decided to join the OWAA. If it weren’t for you I would never have considered the reality of me being a writer. And, by the way, you are not to bad writer yourself.
Anthony Naples, being the consummate editor that you are, my confidence in my writing has gone through a huge metamorphosis that will remain with me the rest of my life. Knowing that there are people like yourself who share similar passions makes me glad that I discovered Tenkara in the first place.
Last but not least, and by far the most important people in my life, my family!
Elizabeth Flores, my gorgeous wife and Commanding Officer, if it were not for your endless love and patience I would never have been able to become the TenkaraGrasshopper that I am! There are few women who would be willing to deal with my goofiness and sometime one track mind. Thank you for giving me the TenkaraGrasshopper Man Cave, even though I know it is really your attempt at protecting our communal living space. I also want you to know that you are going to be an amazing mother of our child and do not ever question my love for you. Like we said in our wedding vows, “Till death do us part!” Hopefully I won’t make you angry enough to kill me, although I have been home late for dinner a few times because I have been fishing.
To Thomas Richard Graham (TRG) and Ruth Alma Patterson Graham (Honey), may you rest in peace and enjoy your five o’clock cocktails for eternity in the sun, I owe you more than I was ever able to pay back. TRG, if you had not been the grandfather that dealt with my silliness when I was a kid and took me fishing, which in twenty-twenty hind sight might have been a coping technique on your part, I would never have gained the passion for fishing that I now have. You were always the go to guy for me when it came to fishing, and each and every day I wish that you were here so that I could ask you a bunch of questions that remain unanswered. Honey, thank you for dealing with both Grandpa and I when it came to fishing up at the cottage on Fence Lake, I know it wasn’t easy but you made it look simple. You will always remain in my mind and heart till the end of my days as well.To my family, mom, dad, step-dad Phil Boyle, my sister Eileen and her family, my Aunt Linda and Uncle Mike, Mark and Amy Clem, Beth Michaels, and Michael Kloewer, the best stepson a guy could have, I owe you all a debt of gratitude and lots of hugs for being there for me through thick and thin. Your encouragement as I have followed my passion for Tenkara is unparalleled and I could not ask for anything more.
Tenkara and Tight Lines,
Aka Graham M Moran