Tips for Fishing and Living # 38

Tip #38:

“Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend.” 

                                                                                                  Zenna Schaffer

At first glance the above quote seems rather funny; nothing very deep or profound about it, just silly. But let’s consider it for a moment and see if we can glean anything from it.

For starters, it does have to do with teaching another person how to do something for themselves. Whenever we get an opportunity to gain some new skill we are often pleased and can become quite satisfied. The newly acquired skill increases our capacity to now be more independent. We no longer must rely on others to provide something we’re now able to do on our own. With increased independence comes a certain joy and, I dare say, even delight. Doing things for ourselves often is far better than getting some handout or some charity. Few, if given a choice, prefer charity, no matter how dire one’s circumstance have become. The receiver can feel beholden to the giver, and usually hopes this handout is only a one-time event. What’s preferable is this freedom we gain from new mastery, which gives us an expanded repertoire of available options, resulting from the new mastery.

I consider myself a lifelong learner. I love learning new things. Often I read and study all sorts of desperate and diverse subjects that either cross my path or I am drawn toward. With social media such as YouTube and other resources, I’ve taught myself things like how to fix a clothes dryer, improve a garden, and cook some new recipe.

When I first began writing short stories I wanted to understand how people really talk to each other. I wanted accurate dialogues for my story characters. To do so I sat in diners eavesdropping on strangers to steal (insert: learn) some of their catchphrases, interesting expressions, and their informal language structures. All of it was different from, say, essay or more formal writing. And it was a great and fun way to learn this.

Also I loved (and still do) to sit at a busy airport or train station observing the various people coming and going. I didn’t engage with them. Rather I watched and made up stories about them: who they were, where they were going or returning to, what their life circumstances were, etc. I could never prove, or disprove, my made-up stories, but it was, never the less, a great study and quite fun.

If you have been following these blog postings even a little, you likely realize I am advocating that all of us need to slow our lives down. And the best way to do so is to incorporate regular reflection time into our life. I contend it will manifest a healthier and more powerful life. I make no claim that fishermen (and women) readily do this, nor that fishing is a requirement for fostering reflection into one’s life.

There are plenty of healthy ways to do so. It’s just that when one is there along the riverbed, or out by a trout stream, one can imagine the possibility to slow down is richly enhanced. With this slowing down potentially comes greater openness for reflection. I’ll spell it out again: fishing is a metaphor .for a contemplative life

So, if someone no longer gives you a fish, but instead teaches you how to fish, we can also look at what the metaphor might mean for giving you a fish. It seems apparent that we do tend to appreciate the things we work to achieve more than the things we’re given. Things we receive without our own efforts involved don’t necessarily light us up. I’m not saying we don’t enjoy a gift now and then, but sometimes the receiver lacks true gratitude, and sometimes may have a reason to even feel upset or offended.

It is well documented that many lottery winners waste, quickly spend their winnings, or generally lose their new fortune within one year’s time. This happens way too often to be a fluke or odd happenstance. Is it that many simply do not cope well with their increased wealth due to some pre-set belief that they don’t deserve it? Many people, I’m convinced, have such an inner conviction.

I’ve heard people say things like “I don’t deserve to have a happy life.” There’s a self-sabotage mechanism that kicks in with this belief. With it they’re off and running with our relentless, negative inner voice now running the show. From there we’ll go about busily shedding whatever possibilities for a greater life we may have initially desired.

Teaching one to fish has a lot to do with breaking through this deceptive thinking – this great big LIE – the one too many carry around believing as the truth. Churches even promote this idea, directly or indirectly, how we don’t or should not think we deserve happiness or success.

“Lord I am not worthy…” I get it; It’s a call to not be boastful, prideful or arrogant. But too often with such a prayer we fail to also hear the second part, “Only say the word and my soul shall be healed” In other words, we completely miss that God isn’t interested in our self-loathing. God overlooks this way we see ourselves. God, instead, sees us as quite lovable, and as precious. God only wants us to be happy.

I contend Our Creator isn’t thrilled or delighted at all by our humility or self-effacing with thoughts such as “I am just a worm” or any similar kinds of incantations. Our Maker sees us as Her creation, and therefore, sees us as wonderful. “We’re made in the image and likeness of God!” Right! We are the Creator’s expressed creativity, and as such, we are therefore quite fabulous.

We are amazing!

However, this seems to be what we work hard to avoid. We seem to have difficulty taking this belief of our goodness in. If we could wrap our heads around how much we are loved and lovable, we, of course, would live radically different lives. We would have to. We’d love ourselves and we’d also love everyone else. Even those people who don’t see themselves as lovable and/or operate in ways that aren’t loving, we’d love them regardless, because we’d know who we are, and who they truly are, too.

Nelson Mandela, when sworn in as president of South Africa, used a poem by Marianne Williamson in his address. I offer it now as a way to conclude – and to, who knows, maybe take the time to reflect? E

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking

So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,

As children do.

We were born to make manifest

The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;

It’s in everyone.