It’s been said in many ways, studied in more forms than one can care to recall, but if you think you understand crazy or insanity, well then, you never truly lived it. The ones that have, will tell you, you don’t live it, you survive it, you learn to grow away, or out of it.
Now for my part I’ve never been clinically diagnosed with it, a severe mental illness that is, but in the spring, for the past three springs, I fish with a guy that is living the nightmare, in the insane side of the aisle. Those are his words, (Larry’s) not mine.
The first time I met him (Larry) he was standing on a dock, he had just finished his cigarette, and from his left hand, which was covered with a thick warm chopper, his rod fell, bounced off the dock and dropped into Lake Superior. But he didn’t move, he just stood there, like nothing happened. Stood, staring, like a statue.
Now watching from further down the shore, I could tell this was not a normal fishing scène, I could tell, something was amiss. Suddenly the guy with him, moved into action, led him like a blind man back to the van, buckled him into his seat, closed the van door, and started to drive off.
I moved up from the beach and intercepted his departure. I said hang on a second, and I went and recovered the rod, the young man driving the van, thanked me and drove away.
Today, the unmarked van parks, he gets out of the back seat, a new young man is his counselor, and sez briskly, “don’t get too far away” (Larry) is warned, so he stops.
After he grabs his rod, he is told to wait by his counselor, both wearing outdoor clothes much like my own and from all outward appearances, if I hadn’t met him three years ago, I would have thought, he’s just got a fishing chauffer.
I explain, I know the guy (Larry), we have fished a few times before, and the counselor gives me a look like, are you sure you know what you’re doing. (Larry) catches it all, and smiles at me, asks me if I had any luck yet today, and we go into just a regular fishing chat.
As we fish the counselor gives us a bit of room because we need to cast, (Larry) tells me, as he tosses his looper bobber out into lake superior, that he could tell others what it’s like to wake, from what in his opinion, is a recurring type of Alzheimer’s.
How one second everything is fine, and he’s aware and is completely relaxed, totally in the fishing moment, then in the blink of an eye, he wakes to find he’s been physically restrained, with no memory of what caused his human caged or contained condition. Then he has to take a verbal skills test, chow down his meds, to be released. He assures me, it’s all extremely embarrassing. The trout whisperer