Category: Don’s Blog

Tips for Fishing and Living # 6

Tip # 6

“Listen to the sound of the river and you will get a trout.” Irish proverb

A certain women’s college basketball coach has tried to explain that she does more than take gifted and extremely talented athletes into her program. This coach gets these gifted and extremely talented players to play ball with the certainty that must ultimately come from within. When one is able to do so, such a player brings the level of their play up into legionary states, not only for themselves, but also for each and every member of the team. When the scouts go about recruiting players they look for this capacity; this something extra; let’s call it a confidence and vision within the prospective player. You cannot teach this; but great coaches can cultivate it. The truth is all people have this capacity in some aspects. It’s just too often ignored or shunted. Some might think of this confidence and vision as conceitedness or about being boastful. This way of thinking is part of the problem. It helps to foster a general “holding back” of greatness. Actually it is a form of modest. Michael Jordan knew he was a great basketball player. It would have been false modesty for him to suggest he was just “so-so.”

So much of living a life is utilizing a combination of both skill and art. Mastery comes when one initially is willing to put in the long, hard work to develop certain skills to a high level. Staying with this basketball metaphor we all know of some of the truly great ones of various teams, and of how these master players were the ones that came early to practices, and then stayed late, to improve a jump shot, or bring up his or her foul line shooting. These players demanded nothing but the very best from themselves. Once they had a discipline for building and improving their skill set, then the art of playing came about. When this student of basketball or whatever career or life endeavor that one is pursuing, learns the basics really well, and even has a method to keep on top of them, they must also learn to put all that technique he or she has learned behind, and then at game time, let er’ rip!

Perhaps it all boils down to trusting one’s inner voice, or to listen to our core instincts and intuition. Most of us fail miserably at this. Instead we shunt it out. We close ourselves off from that part of us that truly “knows” what course of action to take. Instead we give full rein to all the voices that tear us down or talk us out of our dreams. I call these inner voices vultures that soar and bombard us with all the negativity and fear-based notions. Usually we hear of these thoughts as being reasonable or logical.  Listening to the river is more than about catching trout. It is all about having a most amazing life. We are called to be unreasonable. Living an extraordinary life is what were created for. The life that everyone is entitled to is available, if only they shut off the noise screaming inside, and listen to “the river.”

Tips for Fishing and Living # 5

Tip # 5:

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.” 

Henry David Thoreau

When one engages in that which one loves, time stands still, or you can say “life is timeless.” Finding one’s purpose in life is essential to becoming  a joyful, as well as, fulfilled person. Each person was born for a purpose – a vocation – a calling. Generally speaking this purpose is aligned with becoming happy. When one discovers this calling, life ceases to be burdensome. For the most part, life turns into bliss, regardless of whatever obstacles or trials, or so-called difficulties one encounters. But here’s the real secret: This purpose – this calling – is whatever we say it is. There is no cosmic slate that has written on it your particular purpose. And so we don’t have to flounder or struggle all of our life searching, wondering and fretting as to what it exactly is we are supposed to be doing. There are clues. These clues are all over the place. They can and do lead us to the right place. We have to be open to seeing these clues. To start, we can ask ourselves, What is it that brings me joy? to reflect on, and then see where this line of thinking takes you. We are each born into a life, into a family, and a setting of both history and location, that sets us up with all sorts of obstacles, as well as, avenues. The avenues are sweet; but so can the obstacles be sweet – although most of the time we don’t see them that way. Not that we would ask for them, but the obstacles, and avenues, can provide us with potentially a clear direction. Consider a person born into a family where a sibling has mental retardation or some significant disability. It isn’t at all surprising to find this person, years later, in special education  with a deep passion for helping people with special needs. We see countless cases of people getting their direction – their purpose – from circumstances of their earlier life. There is wisdom in the notion about finding what you love, and finding a way to get paid for this. “Love what you do; do what you live.”


Tips for Fishing and Living #4

“A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.”

Arnold Gingrich

Years ago, I started a morning ritual where when I first wake up, and before I get out of bed, and prior to putting my feet on the floor, I remain in bed and place a shit-eating grin on my face. I beam a full-faced smile as I think about how gifted I am to have made it through the night and to have awakened into a brand new day! I am alive. I am here. I have this new day in which to live. I am a live and this is a miracle! It’s not a fake smile either. It is a heart-felt smile; one that has the physiological effect on my entire body that ripples into a wonderful and positive sensation. Not a bad way to start the day.

Too often we live day-to-day in a ho-hum existence. Even when something good occurs we take it as a “oh well, another miracle,” without really taking it in as the powerful force it truly is. It’s as if only we haven’t the vision to see it. The truth is, miracle abound. Beauty abounds often while remaining hidden from most do not know this is so, or if they do, how to look for it.  It is pretty easy to be miserable. This is simple. One can get on a bandwagon to let events of our day flood our head with one misery after another. But to be happy takes some discipline. It also takes a bit of skill. One sometimes needs to have the skills detective – to become a sleuth who is ever vigilant for the clues that our universe is an ever-occurring creation.  If you know what you are looking for you have a much great chance of finding it. Awareness has magic. As your awareness grows it brings about greater energy. That is a beautiful thing.


Tips for Fishing and Living #3

Tip # 3:

“Fly-fishers are usually brain-workers in society. Along the banks of purling streams, beneath the shadows of umbrageous trees, or in the secluded nooks of charming lakes, they have ever been found, drinking deep of the invigorating forces of nature – giving rest and tone to over-taxed brains and wearied nerves – while gracefully wielding the supple rod, the invisible leader, and the fairy-like fly.” James A. Hensall, MD, 1855

In our present times of the information society where we live lives of an ever-increasingly rushed, unreflective and over-frantic pace it is only those that have the discipline to literally pull out of their self-imposed importance, and if necessary even flee into seclusion, that are able to preserve and maintain a life worth living. Solitude and quiet reflection is the necessary disciple that our souls require. It is not a luxury, but a requirement for a sustainable life. Otherwise we can spend our entire lives merely thinking thoughts but never thinking about our thinking. At first this may not seem significant, or even important. But where else do we get to have “down-time” in order to think about our otherwise unquestioned assumptions or un-reflected ideas?

One of the problems we humans have is that we think we are our thoughts. We certainly have thoughts – and lots of them – and so it is easy to assume these thoughts are us – as though we and our thoughts are one in the same. A much enlightened way to consider that we merely have thoughts – some good and some not-so-good – but we are NOT our thoughts. For starters, we are much more than our thoughts. Equally true is that we are not our feelings; we simply have feelings. Thoughts and feelings are fleeting and change all the time. It may be easy to accept our feelings as transient and that they come and go. But so too is it with our thoughts. While less transient than our feelings, we certainly we can realize we’ve had particular thoughts in the past we no longer hold, and in fact, we may even presently hold an opposite thought from a prior time.

The point is we aren’t our thoughts either; we simply have thoughts. But by living in a mostly unreflective realm it is easy to become addicted to seeing our thoughts as us.

Sometimes a particular thought ends up bumming us out. And the irony is we’re bummed out all the while not realizing we were the one who created the thought to begin with. So, we miss the realization that we always have the option of changing our thoughts. Why not create newer, more enlivening thoughts? Why not create thoughts that move, touch and delight us? Well, it’s just a thought.


Fly-fishing is the most fun you can have standing up.”

Arnold Gingrich”, 1969

Have you have noticed how committed fly fishermen are to the sport? Perhaps this is the reason why they enjoy it so much. Commitment literally frees one up to pursue whatever enterprise he or she is up to. Ask any successful CEO; ask any truly successful married couple. In fact, if you investigate into what anyone who is doing well in their pursuits you will discover that these people have an uncommon and passionate commitment to it. No only are they passionately committed, they find joy and satisfaction in the pursuit. They don’t even seeing it as “working at it” rather, or if they do, they call it a “labor of love.” 

 Love for what one does and for one’s vocation is the best assurance that he/she will become good at it. For such individuals they do not consider their work to be work. They get to play in the midst of their enterprise they are endeavoring to do. They love the challenge; the test; the pursuit of excellence. For such individuals, life is seen as a series of challenges and test, with complimentary celebrations. For the times they do not fully succeed, they get to ponder and then to come back the next day – of week or month or even year – to play again, only this time with renewed vitality and a sharper grasp of the realities of the challenges that lie ahead.