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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This was written by someone on the KayakbassFishing.com site. Thought everyone would appreciate it. Gives a little insight into the folks we help and have fun with –

No, this ISN'T addressed to the kayakfishermen who founded and participate in the "Heroes On The Water" program. Those guys have set the bar incredibly high for all of us, and have earned my utmost respect. But this isn't about them.

This letter is addressed to YOU---the fallen warrior who is out there somewhere, in a bed or a wheelchair or a Stokes frame, or trembling with effort as you try to pull yourself along those rails, or trapped inside the neverending nightmare of Traumatic Brain Injury.

I'm going to speak from experience here, little brother. My time on the line came long ago, in another unpopular war in another troubled time. Unlike you, I walked away without much damage---physically, anyway. But eight years ago last month, I got a REAL good taste of what many of you are going through now.

I got between an amped-out escaping mental patient and a little old lady, and I got (according to witnesses) just about every square inch of my head used for a soccer ball for just under three minutes. I got the helicopter ride, and the brain surgery, and two heart attacks on the table, and then my lungs gave out, and the only way they could save me was to induce a coma and warehouse me up on the ninth floor. And when I finally did come to, I was a monster and a spaz and a mutilated gimp. And the doctors told my family that I had a five-percent chance of living even a year.

But you already know about that stuff. And you probably know about all that **** they (mercifully) tell our families about comas, and that you're weren't in a tunnel of light, or a place that smelled like Mom's warm ookies, or on the happy rainbow butterfly planet.

And, if you're reading this, by now you know ALL about Pain-with-a-P. And doubt. And despair. And looking in the mirror and seeing Frankenstein staring back. Or opening your mouth and hearing only the wrong words coming out. Or about not laughing---or even smiling---for a long, long time.

And now some certifiable maniac is suggesting to your doctors that they put you into a kayak(!) with fishing rods and sharp hooks, with limbs gone or not working, or your own brain betraying you every chance it gets. Maybe you're worried that you will look odd or foolish to others (you won't), or that you will make mistakes (you will, and none of us will give a tinker's dad'gum or a second glance, because that's how WE learned).

Maybe you think you can't cut it anymore. Really? You've been through TWO Hells now, the Hell of recovery, and the one that put you there. You had the BOXCAR-sized stones to step up and take one for your country in some godforsaken dungheap---and, God love you for it, you STILL probably blush or get all flustered anytime someone refers to you as a hero.

Kayakfishing isn't Jesus. It won't sprout a new limb out of that stump, it won't make you look like Brad Pitt or dance like Fred Astaire, and it sure as hell won't make the many ungrateful low-lifes in our society even give you the time of day. I don't know what it will do for your body or your brain.

But what it WILL do is SHOW you---right down in the center of your heart, in the very core of your being---that the world is NOT all cordite and torn flesh, or needles and bandages, or the long anguish of clawing your way back, or watching others carefully avert their eyes, or going through the rest of your life feeling like an X in a world full of O's.

The world is also the dappled sunlight of a quiet cove. It's the heart-stopping awe of a great blue heron or an osprey whispering by just above your head. It's plunging your hand into the cool, clean water of an ageless river and literally feeling its tirelessly beating pulse= It's the heart-hammer of a hookup, the happy shouts of "Fish ON!" from your true brothers, the little shudder of joy that goes through your spirit when you catch-and-release, knowing that you have protected a fragile treasure for yet another generation.

DO IT, brother! GO with those guys! They're all just like you---they're crazier than Larry, Curly and Moe, they're harder to kill than Dracula, they've got absolutely NO quit in them at all, and many of them haven't got enough unscarred hide left to make a decent wallet. And they'll show you how to take a big, honkin' bite out of life and let the juice run down your chin, and laugh like a drunken monkey the whole time you're doing it.

Your brother,

Clinton S. Tyree
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