Something I like doing is sitting in my room at the end of a long day, staring at the ceiling tile, Apocalypse Now style, and think hard on the different things that I experience in my life. Living with Aspergers Syndrome, I do this a lot, and sometimes I over think and over analyze things. Some of you may notice that my post seem weirdly worded or I wonder and ask weird questions or even stutter and seem nervous about things when normal people shouldn't. It is because I suffer from an autistic spectrum disorder called Apergers. I don't feel the same things as others emotionally, I cannot read people's moods thru their voice or words, I get nervous in big social situations, and I find it hard to express my emotions. This has caused me lots of grief over my life, but, I don't let it stop me from being me.
Something that I have seen over my time in the world of kayak fishing is just how....accepting we are as anglers. I say anglers instead of fisherman because I believe the two are different. Fisherman are happy to fill the cooler with fish, they want to hurry and get to the fish, they focus more on the quantity than the quality of fish that they boat. Anglers are happy just to be on the water, slowly maneuver around taking in their environment, and care about the fish that they boat. Anglers handle their catch with kid gloves, treating every fish brought in with the respect of a prize fighter for his opponent. We keep a few and release a lot more. We don't have disdain for the one that got away, only a respect that that fish was better than us and outsmarted or outwitted us.
I have met anglers from every walk of life. From the bearded, beer drinking welder who can only afford a pirogue to pole around in, to the IT specialist smelling of aftershave drinking nothing but water who peddles around in a new model Hobie. From the college kid who hopes to one day work for the biggest oil compay he can to the pro staff maniacs who give us the tips tricks and suggestions that get us more lunkers. I see people who don't judge people for their gender, sexual orientation, race, knowledge, or anything. Coming from past of all kinds, we are all equal on the water; kayak anglers. The newbies and pros are all the same when they are on the water; all with the same advantage, all with the same goal. Perhaps fishing is just the great equalizer of people? Perhaps the world needs more anglers to kill the bigotry and hatred that plagues this world?
In our sport, we are all different, yet the same. In my personal life, I have taken physical and mental abuse because of my stature, my clothing and music style, even because of my awkwardness with other people. But yet, I have yet to be bullied or made fun of by the great folks I have met in this awesome sport. So many great people have helped me, and I try to help everyone that I can. Complete strangers have helped me load my boat onto my truck, and I have helped strangers drag their boats across roads and marsh. And it has made me a much better person, teaching me that no matter who we are at our 9-5, we are all brothers when we are out doing what we love.