Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You can teach some men to fish, and they will still starve

I've often felt some hobbies are best kept to one self. Having been a writer and radio host for many years, many aspects of my life are shared willingly, but you might be surprised to know much of my personal life is like an iceberg...people only see the very tip. I suppose from time to time I share a glimpse of something new, but often in code to protect and maintain some element of privacy for others in my life. Take for instance fishing. It's not something I've much written about before. Fishing has always been of those sacred activities reserved for the closest of friendships. About twenty years ago I had a boss who loved to fish more than anything. It was where he did all his deep thinking, relaxing, or just to let off some steam. I always admired his passion for fishing and on many occasions found myself on the boat in the wee hours of the morning to hurry up and wait.
I learned that fishing was a great sport to learn about life. Patience, friendship, and instinct were all lessons learned early on the boat. Interestingly I acquired my early angling skills along with virtues of catch and release, from my grandmother. She wasn't a great fisher-woman but enjoyed taking me fishing. I never did learn for certain whether or not fish could see in color, but years later I learned to appreciate fly-tying from my step dad. That was one hobby I never understood. Just the loss of eye sight alone seemed insane to me, but it was his private passion. Anyway, this famed Chinese Proverb would seem to sum it up best: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." The problem I've found is that you can't always teach every man to fish. Some just don't want to learn or listen, so they starve.

Back to my old boss from twenty years ago. He used to tell me about a guy he fished with who would insist he knew the best places to fish; refusing to rely on charts, current-reports, weather factors or other oft used fishing tips. My boss would be upset about the money spent on boat fuel, not to mention a long boring day with no action. He would end up being furious at his friend, holding-in blame and anger. Finally my former boss told his friend he was on his own, that he didn't want to have him on his fishing boat anymore. It ruined their friendship, and they never spoke again. My old boss started charting his own course to decide where to cast his line. He caught the same amount of fish...no more, no less. The difference was he had become his own man and no longer blamed his former fishing buddy for what he thought were bad decisions. My old boss taught me that in fishing, there are no losers. He felt that even on a bad day fishing, life goes on whether you catch a single fish, or nothing at all. All those afternoons on the boat taught me about patience, self-reliance, personal accountability, building short term goals, and the Chinese philosophy for taking a long term perspective on life. So while you might not ever know me as a fisherman, now you know about one of the more formative sports that influenced my adult life, and continues to do so even today.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

love this rick!

smiles, bee

Jean said...

Great story!
It's amazing how much control we have over our destiny. Big hugs!

KathyA said...

Thanks for sharing, Rick. Your attitude about finishing is a wonderful one. Sort of like mine about golf -- more of a commitment to be outside...

Mags said...

Thank you for sharing this-it makes me smile to think of you fishing.

lime said...

i've done very little fishing in life but those are all good lessons to learn. thanks for sharing this little glimpse and some good things to consider.


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