Returning home from another relatively unsuccessful day on the hard water yesterday evening, I stopped by the grocery store and bumped into an old friend I met and shared great times with back in University. As is the case with many friends now, meetings are fleeting and conversation is innocently frivolous. Don’t get me wrong, this person is a good friend whom I hold dearly. It’s just that I couldn’t help but notice something hasty about her mannerisms; like something was amiss (or afire). She was friendly, but her mind seemed elsewhere, not in the moment, as though this interaction was idle time in a never ending race to nowhere.
She has two beautiful kids now and both looked like the grocery store was the last place they wanted to be. I suppose that is perfectly understandable. After all a grocery store is probably the most frustrating place to be for a child. All that great junk food and cool stuff so close, yet so far away. As they tugged aways at mom’s sleeves, pleading as kids typically plead in grocery stores, they gained very little interest other than a generic and slightly exasperated “no dear” or “not now honey” every now and then. We caught up on the usual trivial stuff until came that point you feel it’s probably best to keep things brisk. We politely parted ways but not before she asked if I still “fished all the time”, to which I awkwardly and somewhat embarrassingly answered, huh yeah, kind of, not without feeling a certain sense of…inadequacy.
That night as I lay in bed I thought about a lot of things. I pictured friends married, with kids and thought about my own situation, not married, no kids, fishing “all the time”. I thought about her question a lot for some reason and part of me wished I had answered differently. It dawned on me that to some, fishing can perhaps be misinterpreted as a way to avoid responsibility, even as a little antisocial maybe. And I wish I had taken the time to explain to her that this wasn’t the case, that fishing is so much more than just about catching fish, and that maybe I’m just not in a hurry to have my arms tugged at at the grocery store. So why do we fish? As it turns out it probably would have been a long answer given the situation.
We fish because it keeps us healthy and young at heart. Fishing lets us explore not only lakes, rivers and streams, but also our own minds and personalities in a very intimate way. We fish to get away from the mundane and the ordinary, to dream, to feel and to imagine. We fish not to make sense of it all, but to make sense of a few precious moments when everyday problems vanish. We fish because squabbles over spots are enjoyable in nature compared to real life contentions. Fishing brings us joy and exposes our most honest and true personalities. It allows us to show our true colours and bond with family and friends in a way that few other activities can. It has the power to trivialize arguments, and bring us closer together. At times we fish to forget, at others to remember that life shouldn’t always be taken so seriously.
Fishing provides emotion, sometimes elation, other times despair. We fish because we have a bit of spare time after a hard day’s work or perhaps conversely, to procrastinate. Fishing brings us back to our roots, it reminds us that we are providers, that we can be successful, that we can achieve. Fishing does at times however, also teach our blind exuberance and overconfidence a seemingly cruel, yet in the grand scheme of things, necessary lesson.
At times we fish to put things in perspective, to take time aside to understand a loved one’s point of view. At others we seek the bigger picture with nothing specific in mind a day on the water seems to often unpretentiously and graciously provide. Sometimes we fish simply to kill time, but often also to attempt to slow its pace. A day on the water can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment when something has you feeling down. Fishing can create confidence yet also has the uncanny ability to keep you grounded and profoundly humble. We fish to feel a deep sense of interconnection with nature, to feel like we a part of something bigger. We fish to watch the sunrise and sunset on the longest day of the year.
We fish to get to know ourselves, to compete with, poke fun at, and get to know one another. In doing so, we create lasting friendships and get to know people at their very best. Fishing is a challenge. It allows us to seize the day, to battle the elements but more importantly to learn that when we want, we can if we put in a little effort. We fish to allow a picture-perfect morning to live up to its potential in a most natural way, to learn to let things unfold as they may. We fish to have stories to tell.
In seeking the next bite, sure we look to catch a fish, but in our quest we gain much more than just a meal, or the excitement of that moment. What we truly gain is wisdom, respect and humility. Each time we hit the water we learn something, we become better versions of ourselves and grow as human beings. The gift we receive in exchange is to have the privilege to share this knowledge with our sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends and anyone else we hold close to our hearts. This is why we fish.
Most important of all however, we fish to be free.
Until next time, Stay Outside!