Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip #35:

“An angler is a man who spends rainy days sitting around on the muddy banks of rivers doing nothing because his wife won’t let him do it at home.” 

                                                              Author Unknown

For many people, living within the numerous societal conventions is often overly difficult and taxing. Doing so is also a bit overrated, meaning there is a high cost that comes with this. We can end up diverting our own dreams and aspirations in order to fit in and be accepted. I’m not advocating becoming an anarchist. However, too many people get caught up and fixated on what others might think of them. They expend lots of energy attempting to always looking good. Sheer silliness, and often undermining the greater goal of following one’s bliss.

A friend once told me didn’t join a gym for fear of being stared at by the other people at the gym. He felt he’d be judged for his poor physical condition. I told him the basic rationale for joining a gym is precisely about getting one’s out of shape body into shape. Also, I pointed out his faulty thinking– becoming fit and trim BEFORE joining a gym is illogical, and highly unlikely to happen. His gym joining fear became laughable. Once he took this in I also concluded that he could take solace in the realization that most gym members were primarily interested in looking at themselves, and therefore they’d be busy staring at themselves!

When encountering this kind of faulty thinking I often joke “all I ever want in life is to be powerful, relevant and dynamic!”  More often than not this reminds me how foolish (insert: also vain) we mortals can be. Such ridiculous and self- defeating, not to mention, impossible standards, conjure up a road to certain defeat. We are setting ourselves up for failure by hugely faulty thinking. Another friend loves to quote his favorite AA slogan: “There is a God, and I am not him/her.”

If you’ve been following these weekly blog postings at all you’ve likely concluded many have to do with a basic proposal: there are potential benefits from fishing. But you need to also realize it’s not about the fish! It’s about time spent while fishing. You’d would be out there in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of our otherwise busy and unreflective lives.

We’d be out in a wordless silence, listening to other sounds: rivers and streams flowing, the breeze and trees rustling, birds and other sights and sound of nature. And also we’d be with our own inner thoughts. Hopefully we’d start to be filled with gratitude. There’s even the likelihood we’d gain an expanding openness to the glorious wonders of life – our life.

To better spell it out: The idea behind fishing is more about creating an atmosphere for the possibility for a deepening surrender, and of letting go of what we otherwise carry around, which prevents us from surrender.

In the Little Prince, the Prince discovers an inner power when the tamed fox shares a secret with these evocative words:

“One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eye.”

When we consider fishing as a spiritual practice we can begin to recognize how we need to learn to look – to see – with a different pair of eyes. Thomas Merton called this kind of looking as a looking beyond “the shadow and the disguise” of things, until we are able to come to know all things in connectedness and wholeness.

Again, this fishing business is, if I haven’t it made it clear enough, a metaphor for developing rituals and practices that facilitate our learning how to think non-dualistically or with a mystical mind. Such a mind will foster truly loving on a deeper level. This includes loving all that appears as limited and ordinary to be much more. Such love helps us see beyond the so-called ordinariness of life, and to glimpse the infinite and seemingly invisible things within the ordinary. I have referred to this as a spirituality of the sacred in the ordinary.

And you’re now asking, ‘one can get all of this from fishing?’ The short answer is “yes, at least potentially.” But it is not automatic. And it isn’t the only way to get there. It is merely one possible vehicle.

No matter how we choose to get there, know it first requires our willingness to surrender. We tend to be such know-it-alls making this difficult. Only by surrendering to the Greater Soul – or whatever you wish to call your maker – can we make this mystical experience possible.

Maybe It’s one’s wife/husband/partner that makes it difficult for you or that locks you up from moving into a mindful state. More likely it’s your own doing, your own inner thoughts that derail you. But whoever is preventing you from doing what you love to do, you need to fire them. Get rid of that gatekeeper. Instead, hire on a Wal-Mart greeter to stand excitedly by your doorway; get someone whose there smiling brightly, asking if there is anything she can do for you, while you go about enjoying your amazing journey.  Your journey can only become clearer as you continue to surrender via regular reflection and meditation.

Finally: Transformation has little to do with intelligence, willpower, or perfection, but has everything to do with honest humility, willingness, and have I already mentioned, surrender? If you’re not into fishing, that’s fine. There are any number of other constructive possibilities, such as: self-growth programs, bible study, church attendance, yoga, journaling, or a ton of other ways to foster surrendering and learning to open the door for creating on-going breakthroughs. Also there are the 12-Step programs. AA and the other 12-Step programs are a movement from self-centeredness to god-centeredness. And remember, they are for a very good reason called steps. There are no quick fixes available. It is a process. Process takes time.

Any of the ways available can be excellent instruments for getting one to surrender, even if it takes 12 Steps to get there. AA people are famous for saying one has to “work the program for the program to work.”

Life is too short to not be doing everything that one desires to be doing. We get no extra points at the end for being stingy and/or miserable from a life not fully lived.

I’d like to think the guy in the above fishing quote could do all of this at home, even with his wife there; and that his wife could do so, as well.