Tips for Fishing and Living # 29

Tip #29:

“The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.”

                                                            A.K. Best

Can you distinguish the difference between having a great day and having a productive day? Some days a whole lot doesn’t get done, yet it can still be viewed as an excellent day. Most of us, men and women, tend to see our days in terms of what we accomplished, how much was finished, how much money was made, what we can scratch off our “to-do’ lists, etc. One could argue that we often act more as human doings than as human beings.

A truly effective way to live one’s life, however, is by being open to experiencing the richness of each and every present moment. There are many ways to say this. We’ve covered this concept a bit in other Tips before. How about: “The Road to Heaven is Heaven.”

This means we ought to focus on enjoying the journey, not just the destination. We ought to enjoy each and every aspect of what we are up to. This sounds idealistic, but it is a worthy pursuit. New England, for example has been bursting with its spectacular autumn foliage. We recently returned from a New York State weekend getaway. The beautiful scenic two-hour plus drive to a lovely Bed and Breakfast we stayed at, was in itself, worth the trip.

In my present stage of life – let’s just say I’m on the back half  – I have made a pact – a promise – to myself that I will do mostly those things I love to do, while doing less of what I don’t love to do. This means I will even include attempting to find a good way to do some of those things I need to do but might otherwise wish to skip.

With other things, maybe I look to see what I can learn by doing this unexciting, but still necessary task. Also I can do a particular task in such a way that would be more enjoyable – perhaps even fun. For instance, I generally do not like to return phone calls. So they often build up as I procrastinate.  I can decide to return these calls while sitting in our backyard hot tub. One time when I did this I found I went through my complete list of calls very quickly, and so I started to make additional calls.

There are lots of ways to enjoy the journey. With people I might not wish to be spending time with but am required to spend a certain amount of interacting with, I have found that if I first focus on this person’s goodness, or something likable I am able to recognize in them prior to seeing them, I discover the time together goes much smoother. When I do meet up with him or her, I’m able to bring compassion and, occasionally, even an open heart to our actual meeting.   

Another way to enjoy our life journey is to let go of the need to do every single thing perfectly. Some people won’t start anything until they have every component worked out ahead of time (see #28). This tendency can derail ever taking action. Others can go the other way and are more impulsive. These folks jump in with both feet without having thought through the various potential obstacles or ramifications.

There is probably some good middle ground. There is evidence that “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” However, sometimes “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” G.K. Chesterton was a proponent for the latter. He argued that whereas the professional must strive for excellence, but the amateur need to engage in their passion without any over-riding concern of doing particularly well.

In other words, there is a place for most of us amateurs to simply go paint, or write poems, or grow a backyard garden, or pretty much do whatever delights us without needing to be so darn professional. There is a definite place for professionals. But there is also plenty of room for amateurs. Amateurs can and do contribute. More to the point is that we will enjoy our own journey if it is undertaken primarily with passion, humility and courage, plus lower expectations.

Having Intentionality seems to be also be a key. The WHY of whatever we may choose to do is essential. What do you intend? Figure this out first. What is it you really want? Do you want a productive day? Or a great day? Then with this kind of clarity you can go from there. What will you need to do, or have, or get, in order to bring about either, a productive day? Or your great day? You may want to define what each of these two terms mean for you.

Old adage:

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.” Some would say it this way: “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll likely end up somewhere else.”

 Either way, I am convinced that happiness remains an inside job. We each have a great deal to say regarding what unfolds in our life. We don’t get to determine the various circumstances of our life. Who are your parents? When were you born? Where were you born? And so on. However – and this is hugely important – we do get to determine how we respond to these various circumstances of our life. And to this extent, we have a powerful say in how our life will unfold.

 Final Thought:

I try to operate in sort of a two-headed approach regarding my life and my life’s journey. On one hand I operate: (A) totally committed to creating the particular result/outcome I am after, while also being: (B) totally unattached to the final result/outcome.

 Have you ever had the experience of going to see a movie that your friends or the film critics have built up as some really great film, only to go see it and come away thinking, ‘aye, it wasn’t so great’? Or, perhaps just the opposite, you go see a movie on a whim having heard little, if anything, about it prior to going, and you walk out of the theatre thinking ‘What a great film this was’?

 Expectations can play havoc to our outcomes. I propose you to that by taking on being both fully committed while also unattached, is a wonderful way around the difficulty from being distracted from the joy of the journey each of us is on.

 Suzuki, the famous philosopher who taught children to play music, said, “expect nothing and all is yours.” He was against any preconceived ideas that some children are “talented” while some are “talentless.” He saw how a supportive environment, right thinking, and discipline make a huge difference. Suzuki would be pleased if you become conscious of your own environment. Create your own a delightful setting. Then go make your own wonderful music.

 You might catch some fish; you might not. Either way it will be okay.