Tips for Fishing and Living # 10

Tip #10:

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” Doug Larsen

Years ago I used to have regular, daily to-do lists. I would make them up all the time and constantly try to work off of them. I’d draw a line through any one of the various items completed. Sometimes if I did something significant but not on my list I’d write on my to-do list only to then draw a line through it, so as to get credit for this particular item, as if this mattered. Each day I’d typically get some of the top items on my list handled. Let’s say I’d get 25% of them done; maybe on a very good day 1/3 of the top of the list done. This meant I’d carry over to the next day all those various things not yet addressed. Included on my to-do list would always be some items one could call self-care – some ways I wanted to take better care of myself – along with all the other things I planned on addressing. These self-care items would usually be down on the bottom of my to-do list. What this meant, of course, is I rarely ever got to these things. In other words where I placed me on the list didn’t make me a priority. Almost everyone and everything else came before I did. This habit went on for quite a while, until finally I saw the folly of such an approach. It was then that I decided I would do something about this. I would, from now on, place myself on the very top of my daily to-do list. I would start off with some self-care activity or activities, and then see where to go from there. Usually this included me doing a daily journaling practice of at least three pages hand written in my notebook, followed by a fast walk in our neighborhood park for 3 to 4 miles, and on many mornings a coffee with some guy friends. I am semi-retired so I have the freedom and flexibility to do these things more regularly now than ever before.

 This shift in my thinking came by way of a new insight I got one day. I realized that in order for me to be a more effective individual, and especially if I was going to be committed to being great with people, caring and compassionate of others, someone who loves the people in his life, I needed to first and foremost also love myself. I decided that from then on I was going to love myself at least as much as I try to love others. This shift came from my taking on the Great Commandment: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”, and by turning it around to now be “Love yourself as I love your neighbor.” I would commit myself to treat me at least as well as I try to treat other people. Not better, but no longer less. The Commandment is valid going either way. It’s also similar to the idea that when one is on an airplane and the cabin oxygen is lost, and the masks come down, and all abled passengers are instructed to “first place a mask on yourself, and then help others get one on, as well.” It’s just common sense. You cannot do be helping others around you – at least not for very long – if you haven’t any oxygen yourself. Instead you’ll pass out, making you good for no one.

When I started making this shift in my daily practice I soon discovered a number of interesting things. First of all, I found I had more energy to accomplish more of those things I was interested in doing. I found I also had greater fortitude and more reserve in the efforts I made to be available to whatever and whoever I was engaging with.  I was more present. I was calmer. I dare say, centered. With Don taken care of, I was more available in a greater capacity than ever.

 Perhaps this shift came because I am in the 2nd half of life. I am just as busy and active, but I’m able to draw upon some of the wisdom gained by being alive for this long. For a very long time I have been engaged in being a human doing. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to get things done. I like to fix stuff, repair and take care of things, and even help people. But I can now let go of some of these old conditioned habits, or at least see them as less significant. I am presently attempting to become a human being. I’m not 100% always there, but by this re-focusing I am better able to recognize what I truly deem as important. Some of what was once so critical and vital has begun to be not so very important. It appears I have greater perspective. Some of those things I now see as conjecture or happenstance; not ultimately important in the greater schema of life. Instead it turns out that those often tiny, almost unnoticed occurrences, things that can easily go by the wayside, are what really matter: a baby’s smile, a flower blooming through a pavement crack, a graduation ceremony, an evening walk with one’s mate, a loving embrace, comforting words from a stranger spoken by chance, the lingering glance of a loved one.

 One thing is for sure, real fly casters – fisherpersons – waste a lot of time, and it’s what makes these folks semi-mystics. Maybe they’re onto something the rest of us could tap into. Just a thought.