I think all the most desperate fishermen, even those who don't flick flies, have somewhat sorted lives. If not presently, they have sorted pasts. It's not a matter of pride that I include myself squarely within the fold of these desperate men and women. It may be pain; maybe there are wounds cut by some easily remembered moment, wounds that have yet to heal into scars; perhaps, though, its something more diffuse like a life that just doesn't work like it should. In any case, the desperation is real; the most devoted fly fishermen I know all have a distinctive furrow cutting down their brow, and eyes that reflect their favorite stream without exception.
One cannot help but to draw a few rough conclusions about the people who, as I've said before, do not go to the water but come to it. It can probably be safely said that every human being who has lived even a sliver of life has suffered some damage from it, and no different for those who live it intermittently on the water. The difference between the desperate whole of man and desperate fishers is that I continually perceive when one of those desperate flymen is sending his fly out, he becomes, for a defined moment, not desperate.
I find it no coincidence, yet without explanation, that tippet looks strikingly like suture thread; no more so that the hook on the end of that tippet bears limitless resemblance to a needle. And so, when that yet-unscarred wound pulls further open and reminds the man that he is yet desperate and in dire need of attending to that wound, that same man who is irreparably tied to the stream flees to his hook and suture for relief, for recovery.
With each cast, one more loop and knot is made (quite literally sometimes!) and the desperation from a life that is so often battled with or beaten by is made...less desperate. All the excitement, the thrills, the peace and rest that we find on the water, it all seems to me to be less a distraction and ever more as surgery. Beyond that, I can not offer, propose, or provide understanding. It is simply: life-giving.