Tips for Fishing and Living # 56

Tip #56:

“The gods do not deduct from man’s allotted span the hours spent in fishing.”

                                                                                         Babylonian Proverb

Time never stops for any reason. However, when one is doing what one loves to do it’s as though time vanishes. We’ll say in amazement, “I don’t know where the time went!” Conversely, when one is not doing what one loves or when we find ourselves doing a task we deem taxing or boring or noxious, then time seems to linger on forever. It is, of course, our perception of the experience that makes the time seem as either a prolonged, agonizing ordeal, or as a brief and spectacular segment.

Like most folks, I much prefer doing things I enjoy doing – gardening, reading, being out in nature, spending time with people I love, etc. During this pandemic and with the need to hunker down I have done things I have otherwise tended to put off. Up into now I’ve justified there wasn’t time to do these things. Well that’s certainly changed. And still, as I say, I have only done some of these things. The ones I have taken on I’ve plunged into with delight and enthusiasm. Why? Because I enjoy these things.

Jerry Seinfeld says you can simply take your Bucket List and change the “B” to “F” and be done with it. That’s certainly an option. Another way to tip the scale for taking on our to-do items we are less inclined to do is to change the meaning or the story we have about these things. Let’s say we know we should eat less and only healthy foods, as well as, exercise more. We really want to, but… (You know the drill). One way is to shift out of our usually rut is by first visualizing the desired result. It is a starting with the end approach. Imagining how great we are going to look and feel when we obtain our desired weight and are fit from exercising. Then go about doing those things that will bring about this desired result, as well as, stop doing the things that prevent it or don’t assist in creating our desired result.

Talk to yourself about how good you are going to feel when you do achieve this. At first, the actions you’ll take will be more of a drudgery. It takes usually about three months of replacing old habits with newer habits until the new ones become our established way. As you go about doing these new actions they’ll become the familiar ways as the old ways start to slip away.

Each time you go on that fast walk, when you finish it make sure you also take some time to live in that moment of completion with a satisfaction of being your word. Honor yourself with some sort of, “Atta boy/girl!” or “Nice going!” Smile as you remind yourself that you are onto something grand, that you are doing important things – in this case a restoration of your health and vitality.

Whether we go for the gold in life or we merely settle to stay on the sidelines with a mundane existence is totally up to us. We have the capacity to live a reflective life – one that operates from intention and with purpose – or to exist in some sort of arrangement that is about just getting by. Regardless of which one we adopt, in the end we will die.

This may seem morbid or negative. However, I think knowing we will die is great motivation. It can be motivating for us to actually live while we are still alive. This is not a drill. This is not a dress rehearsal.

Why not then go for it? Who is stopping you? Spoiler alert: YOU ARE. Whatever going for the gold might mean to you, do it! There is an old Nike advertisement that was right on: Just Do It. There is such a qualitative difference between being a participant in life instead of merely a spectator.

“How sad to have died when never having lived at all.”

I cannot tell you where this quote came from except it has great meaning to me. It reminds me to live my life to the full. I think someone 2,000 years ago may have told us this very same thing.

I don’t always do so, but this quote is something I repeatedly remind myself of so that I may snap out of whatever funk I’m experiencing. Whenever I slip up or wander off into some pity parlor in my head, I’ve gotten much better at getting off the proverbial couch and into some decisive action. You could say I’ve become my best cheerleader. I attempt to give myself permission to do what it is that I am yearning to do. Sometimes these things don’t amount to much, or they fall flat as a stupid or lame brain idea.

But, you know what? I am still mostly pleased that I took the action and checked it out. Now I know that particular desire or yearning wasn’t such a terrific one after all. And now I don’t have to spend the rest of my life wondering. As a bonus often there is some sort of take away I learned by doing this seemingly useless action. Maybe it queues me up for doing something better next time.

I have gotten to a point in life where I am able to do mostly those things I love to do, and fewer of those that I do not. “Love what you do; do what you love.” This is a formula for a happy life. With all this Covid-19 forced hunkering down time many are getting to do a bit of reflection and contemplation. This may be a facilitated by-product of the pandemic for a number of folks. It’s an opportunity to reflect about what are my gifts and contributions, what matters the most to me, and how do I want to spend my energy in the post-pandemic world?

Your thing doesn’t have to be fishing. That has never been the point. Your thing is anything that lights up your soul. Fishing is merely one way to facilitate some quiet time. With the quiet comes a possibility for contemplation. With contemplation one may be better able to discover a clearer purpose and direction to live a more intentional life. Determine what your way may be by going with your passions.

I have always enjoyed humor and comedy and to laugh and make others laugh. On a serious note let me say once again how humor and playfulness are antidotes for lessening one’s stress. Anxiousness is often an indication one is too serious; too somber. Or I sometimes say we’re being too significant. Granted not everything in life is a lark. However we are better able to find our way through a tragedy or harrowing time when we don’t take ourselves so seriously.

Having said this, let me get back to my love for humor. I have always dabbled in comedy. Then about twenty years ago I decided to take my avocation further. I actually went into Manhattan and took a 10-week comedy course at The New School. It was led by a professional comic. At the end of the course our instructor booked us into a NYC comedy club. Granted it was the early show and we collectively packed the club primarily with family and friends. But it was a hoot. I mean it was a fabulous experience. I knew by the end of that evening I wasn’t ever going to become a professional comic. But my time up there doing my stand-up performance was, as the American Express ad says, “Priceless.”

The reason I took this plunge came because I was seeing a business coach around this time. During one of our sessions she asked me to tell her those things I really enjoyed doing. When I talked about comedy and how I used it in presentations as part of my work, she reported back to me that “I lite up and I became animated and energized.” She said I owed it to myself to explore this area of joy more, and so I did.

Whatever you have a passion for I am here to tell you: “You Go Girl! You take it on Guy!” Why not? What I learned about doing stand-up comedy was that you have to be okay with making a complete fool of yourself. You have to be alright with possibly failing. Just before I went out on stage I was standing in a small anteroom. It had black and white photos of famous comedians that had been out on this stage over the years, the very one I was just minutes from stepping out onto. And I was nervous.

Then I thought this:

‘Don, you’ve raised six kids. You’ve been humiliated by them numerous times and you’ve more than survived. So what is this audience made up of people you mostly don’t know and are never going to see again going to possibly do to you? Humiliate you? Please!’

With that thought I started to laugh and I became giddy. Just at that moment I heard my name announced as the next comic and I was welcomed to take the stage. I walked out fearlessly and began my comedy debut. It was exhilarating experience. I was amazing. It was like I making my way through my very own version of sky diving. When I landed back on planet Earth I felt transformed as someone who was filled with confidence and delight.  

And by the way: When I was on that stage, I didn’t know where the time went.