By means of a sequence of occasions as unlikely as discovering a pearl in a brook trout’s mouth, I spent 13 years in college administration—eight as a division chair and 5 as a dean.

“We’ve too many rattling directors,” one in every of my colleagues informed me again then, seemingly oblivious to the title “Dean of Engineering” subsequent to my title on the door he’d simply walked via.

“What number of ought to we’ve got?” I requested.

“I don’t know, however I can let you know the way to discover out.”

“How’s that?”

“Begin firing them one by one and see what number of it takes till somebody notices they’re gone.”

Like Aristotle, Ptolemy, and William of Ockham earlier than him, the great professor was merely restating—in albeit draconian phrases—a contemporary model of the dogmatic perception: It’s useless to do with extra what may be accomplished with fewer.

Then again, the late Neil Peart of Rush fame pounded on a drum package with greater than thirty items, and I’ve by no means heard anybody say he may have accomplished extra with much less. However for each Neil Peart, there are a dozen shitty photographers with backpacks stuffed with thousand-dollar lenses and numerous convention rooms filled with twenty-person committees vividly demonstrating that “No one in every of us is as dumb as all of us.”

Disposophobia—also referred to as hoarding dysfunction or Collyer brothers syndrome—is, merely put, the concern of eliminating stuff. Benign examples embody George Costanza and his leather-based bifold pockets overstuffed with assorted arduous candies, emergency condoms, free guitar lesson tabs, and ten years of receipts from Monk’s Café. However the illness may be extreme, too. Right here within the Higher Peninsula, a sixty-seven-year-old lady from Manistique lately spent sixty-two days in jail after authorities discovered roughly sixty-five cats and kittens in her house. Roughly? And the Collyer brothers themselves had been discovered lifeless of their Harlem brownstone surrounded by mountainous stacks of previous newspapers, stitching machines, umbrellas, rakes, cellphone books, horse bones, child carriages, an X-ray machine, Steinway piano, dilapidated wine press, and effectively, you get the thought. Homer died from hunger and coronary heart illness, whereas Langley stopped respiratory after being crushed underneath a collapsed pile of suitcases, newspaper bundles, and metallic bread packing containers. With these backstories in thoughts, I lately held an intervention with myself to confront what I concern has turn out to be an out-of-control accumulation of fly-fishing accoutrements.

For essentially the most half, I haven’t utterly misplaced my thoughts. I don’t but personal a mix wading workers/fish finder, nor do I put on a pair of waders with built-in temperature management, GPS, a hundred-megabit wifi hotspot, and Bluetooth connectivity. I did have a pair of sun shades with a built-in sonar bug finder on my Christmas want checklist, however my spouse mentioned I ought to wait till they incorporate array-based Doppler processing with CDMA pulse compression. First-generation adopters are rubes, she says.

As a result of I’m the kind of man who likes to put on each a belt and suspenders, I connect practically each gadget and gizmo I keep on the river with a major and secondary tether. Nevertheless, I did as soon as lose my anchor on the Missouri River by considering a type of carabiners with the spring-loaded launch made attaching and detaching the twenty-five-pound pyramid simpler than utilizing one with a screw lock. As a better oarsman would have recognized, the rocks on the underside of the Mighty Mo additionally discover it simple to detach your anchor when it’s hooked up in such a careless means, so now I take advantage of two side-by-side carabiners with the openings dealing with in reverse instructions, each with screw locks, after all, secured in place by two wraps of duct tape, simply to be protected. Expertise, they are saying, is that factor you get simply after you want it.

I’ve a field within the basement that serves as a type of accent limbo. I’ve crammed it with boring nippers, scratched studying glasses, tippet spools, tippet holders, previous fly strains, hemostats, half-empty bottles of liquid and powder floatants, zingers, chief straighteners, amadou patches, Gink caddies, chief wallets, nail-knot instruments, Thingamabobbers, stick-on indicators, clip-on flashlights, hook sharpeners, plastic pucks crammed with retired flies, retractable tape measures, bug sprays, sunscreens, and an assortment of pastes and glues that would preserve a kindergarten class busy for every week. Blended among the many relics are some lifeless houseflies, ladybugs, and several other specks of rodent excrement resembling chia seeds. Every little thing within the field deserves a correct burial, however disposophobia attracts its energy from the seductive query, “What if?”

And taking that field to the switch station gained’t deal with the purpose of my self-to-self intervention. I’m extra involved with the packing containers and packs I haul round in my truck and the gear and equipment I schlep to the river. If I’m carrying sufficient gear to make a fight marine say, “Rattling it, man, that’s a number of crap,” it’s in all probability time to chop again. However the place do I begin?

I as soon as labored with a man who had ten youngsters. He informed me folks generally requested why he had so many youngsters, and once they did, he at all times responded with a query: Are you able to inform me which one we shouldn’t have had? He mentioned he’d reply the identical if he had 9 youngsters or eleven. “Regardless of what number of you might have,” he informed me, “they’re all particular, and you’ll’t think about life with none of them.” That’s how I really feel about my fly rods, so I’m not reducing again there. Each rod wants a reel; each reel wants a line, so these aren’t on the chopping block both. Once more, I ask, the place do I begin?

From someplace round mid-April till December, the again of my Suburban seems to be like good previous Homer and Langley Collyer stocked it themselves. I’ve two high-tech coolers—one hard-bodied and one gentle—a hard-shelled storage field, two soft-shelled ones, a single-burner range, two pairs of wading boots, two pairs of waders, two waxed-canvas packer hats, two rain jackets, a reel case crammed with reels, three touchdown nets, and two gear packs—one for cricks and one for rivers. The variety of rods modifications just like the climate, however there are at all times a minimum of three again there.

On the river, my tippet system is spartan—a metallic contraption holding spools of 3X, 4X, 5X, and 6X hooked up to my submersible lumbar pack by the plastic clip that comes with it, plus a backup locking carabiner, simply in case. As a result of tippet is crucial for fly fishing, I can’t in the reduction of there, and since the tippet caddy is linked to the lumbar pack, I can’t lower the pack from my gear both. And since I’ll proceed hauling the pack, I would as effectively preserve the backup tippet spools which are already in it. Are you able to think about what it could be wish to face down an empty tippet spool with out a backup in the course of a brown drake hatch? I can’t both, and I don’t intend to seek out out.

By now, you possibly can in all probability guess the place that is going. I’m not reducing the amadou patch or its backup. The Dry-Shake and Gink aren’t going anyplace, nor are their reserves within the pack. Who goes out on the river with out nippers, forceps, further leaders, sunscreen, bug dope, and a line-cleaning system? However the fact is, none of these items are my drawback. My drawback begins and ends with the legions of flies crammed into the raft of plastic packing containers that fill my storage crates and equipment packs. In highschool, I made a show with lifeless moths, beetles, strolling sticks, cicadas, butterflies, grasshoppers, crickets, bees, and different bugs I can’t recall. However I can recall swearing on a stack of the college library’s editions of the Life Nature Library: The Bugs that I might by no means carry round that many bugs—lifeless, alive, and even manikins—in a field once more. I additionally thought I’d drink nothing however Cherry Coke for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as soon as I may make essential choices like that for myself. With age, although, we alter in methods our adolescent minds can’t fathom.

So, right here’s the place I’ll begin. I’ll decide one fly field, transfer its most dependable inhabitants to the others, after which throw what’s left of the field and its flies into the container within the basement. If I don’t discover it’s passed by the second week in June, I’ll decide one other and do the identical. I’ll do my greatest, however I do know the place this can doubtless finish. For me, reducing again on fly fishing impedimenta is like reducing again on cigars was for Mark Twain: It’s the best factor to do, and I should know. I’ve accomplished it a thousand instances.

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