by jess westbrook
“i am rooted, but i flow” - woolf
It has been said that fly fishing has healing properties. Literally, as you read this article, a group of scientists led by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols are studying/proving the healing properties of water and believe one day doctors will prescribe water therapy for both physical and mental illness.
Personally, I have experienced healing through fly fishing first hand dealing with my own anxiety and have friends where fly fishing truly saved their lives. One friend, in particular, is proof that fly fishing heals: I'm not sure exactly how much one person can mentally and physically endure, but life has thrown some big punches to my friend – a disabled veteran, medical issues, loss of close loved ones at a young age, severe depression, living 500 miles from family, etc. (the first 29 years have been tough).
A weekend fishing together usually fills our Instagram feeds with pictures of big fish, big flies, and big laughs. These pictures are in no way staged, we are having that much fun and the fish are actually that big!!! However, off the water there is another side that Instagram does not capture – taking off waders can take 10 minutes because it generates so much pain (most of the time causing physical sickness), a drive down a three-mile gravel road is excruciating because vibrations cause pain, post-fishing involves wrapping up in lidocaine patches and going straight to bed. The second morning is always tough - walking without a cane is not an option now, removing the lidocaine patches and replacing them even though it’s against doctor’s orders to have patches on for more than 12 hours. The morning conversation always starts with “How are you feeling this morning?” and the answer is always the same “Great!!”
As we all sit down for breakfast we discuss our fishing plans – “What do you feel like doing today?” The answer is predictable – looking across the table with a cup of strong coffee and a smile – “throw big streamers” (the most taxing way to fly fish). Every time I try to talk my friend out of it and every time the answer is the same: “Jess, I am going to be in pain no matter what so I might as well be doing something I love” – and the argument always stops there. Once we are on the water the healing starts – fears and anxiety disappear – there are no thoughts about what the future holds, the unknown of what tomorrow brings, doctors’ visits, finances, we are only focused on one thing – fly fishing.
nativ was formed through the realization that wherever one may roam the place of your roots is with you always. The place that’s home is more than a location but also a spirit that is a part of who you are and how you see the world.
Jessica Callihan’s nativ is the river – it doesn’t matter where the river is located, whether it’s cold or warm water, whether she is catching fish or not, the river is where she belongs, where her soul thrives and where its rejuvenated. The river provides comfort, the river stays the same even though its constantly changing, the river is always there for her.
The river provides fly fishing and fly fishing provides healing.