Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip # 23:

“He fishes well who uses a golden hook.” Latin Proverb

When one fishes – or does anything – having a specific intention makes the project unfold accordingly. One’s “golden hook” could be that there is a focused outcome that then gets carried throughout the project. The opposite of this is the old notion: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.”   

Sometimes we are better at telling others how they should or could do something – what their outcomes ought to be – while we are not doing so well in our own lives. Talk is cheap.

Offering advice or instructing others on how to live, all the while being clueless in living our own life, bespeaks a lack of integrity. The inability to “walk the talk” is a hollow way to live. It has a certain arrogance in it. Also, people mostly see through it, where they “consider the source” as very suspect.

Another way to think about a “golden hook” is the idea that one gets what one pays for. And when someone buys something of low-grade quality. At first they feel pleased when they pay for it, and then displeased every time they use it. But when they buy a well-made article, they feel extravagant when paying for it, and well pleased every time they use it. There’s nothing wrong with getting the best price for the best product, or even buying lesser quality items to serve your particular purpose.

Sometimes I get a tool at Harbor Freight. I don’t expect to be doing the particular project I need this tool for again. The tool serves its purpose. Even if it’s more than a one-time fix the lesser quality tool usually suffices. There are always trade-offs. The old adage, Getting what you pay for is mostly correct. But this isn’t only about buying expensive vs. cheap stuff. The “golden hook” is about having clear intentions.

Saint Damien of Molokai went to Hawaii in the late 1800s to comfort and serve people with leprosy. Each Sunday he would preach to the leper colony people, always addressing them as “You lepers.” After many years of being with them, one Sunday he got up in the pulpit and began his sermon with, “We lepers…”

There is a certain irony in thinking we are being the teacher only to discover we are the more often than not the student. This can be humbling. It is also grace.

Each of us is called to give sermons – our sermon. The best way to do so is not by using words. It is by the example in how we live our own life that speak volumes!  I have a friend who is a Dominican Sister. They are technically called the Order of Preachers – O.P. She once told me that their life’s work is to be a living sermon. While they are called to do actual preaching, it is not necessarily by words, it’s by the way they life their life. She said she examines her life on a regular or daily basis to see if there congruency between her words and her life?

This is a wonderful question for each of us:

Is what I are prescribing for others how I am also living my life?

Yes, we are all flawed. Imperfect. With inconsistencies. These are there for us to address, and grow from. If we don’t acknowledge our Peccadilloes, we are then prone to living a certain dishonesty.

“Heal thyself, physician.”

It takes a while to clean up our various lacks, and to uproot them. Perhaps a lifetime. Integrity is something that grows and broadens into a more comprehensive quality over time and from experience. Initially we may think we have integrity when we return the extra five dollars the cashier mistakenly gave us at the grocery store checkout. We may come to realize not speaking up to a work colleague who tells a racist joke is a lack of integrity. We may come to see our lack of compassion for the homeless, or our justifications for not helping someone when we could have done so, and so on, are further areas where we still lack integrity.

Becoming an integrous person is an on-going, never ending process, laced with plenty of mistakes from which to learn and grow. They are opportunities that can lead us to living a life where we find we have always more work to do; that we are never done. Its best we think of ourselves of as being a “work in progress.” This doesn’t give us an excuse to rest on our victories. Nor does it mean we must beat ourselves up over each new realization when we fall short.

 There is no such thing as cheap grace. With an intentional life we are choosing to keep learning, growing and healing our wounds, our mistakes and/or omissions. Still, the road to heaven is heaven. Such a life is one where our clear and persistent intention is to grow into maturity, and become a person who knows how to love, and how to make a positive difference. That is quite a Golden Hook to fish with.