Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip #82:

“In the lexicon of the fly-fishermen, the words ‘rise and hooked’ connote the successful and desirable climax; landing a fish is purely anticlimax.”

Vincent C. Marinaro-1950

We borrow all sorts of jargon and expressions from specialized areas, such as sports, and incorporate them into our everyday language. This includes fishing terms like the one mentioned above. Here’s another popular one – to “fish or cut bait.” This typically refers to the need to either take some action(s) involving something we keep dwelling on, or else we need to let it go. Then there’s “Being hooked,” which usually means we’re either interested in or infatuated with someone or something; or we’re constantly desiring more attention/more time from someone or something.

‘Rise and hooked’ – from the above quote has to do with notion that we find actual joy from an experience in and of itself. This may can include various steps along the way toward eventually achieving an intended goal. A similar way to say this is, “The road to heaven is heaven.”

And sometimes we say, “Getting there is half the fun?” It does seem true that once we achieve our desired goal there is usually some initial celebrating – maybe some high fiving – but what often follows is a bit of a letdown. We start out with some version of “We made it! Hurrah!” And shortly afterwards there comes “So now what?” Or a “What’s next?” questioning.

While we can readily admit to the ideal of getting there is half the fun, we also make being successful and winning paramount. These two notions seem to be contradictory and in opposition. We live is a society that puts winning as being all important. If this were not so we’d recognize how athletes that get to the World Olympics to represent his/her country IS already a winner. To represent one’s country means you are a primer athlete and thus pretty amazing. It has always astounded me how we treat these athletes who do not go home with a Gold, or a Silver, or maybe a Bronze medal, as some sort of loser. This is crazy.

This is a metaphor for life. If it‘s true that getting there (Be it the Olympics or anywhere we are striving to get) is really what life is about, then we should celebrate this reality. Our achievements are often what propel us onward and further. So it seems we are rather doomed to have but brief moments of happiness if we only celebrate the end game and not the journey itself. Our mountain top vista moments will always be fleeting.

They are tiny flashes in our over-arching scheme of day-to-day pursuits. Once we win our metaphorical Gold Medal we are soon out striving toward newer goals – if not grander and loftier, motivated toward bigger and a more audacious goals.

But we do owe it to ourselves to take in the panorama vista – or if you prefer, our moment on the Olympic awards Grandstand. So, yes, savor the moment. Go ahead, take your selfie. Post it on Facebook if you like. Why not? Then and only then move onto your next aspect of your adventure.

Perhaps this is the way we are designed, so as to continue to have us evolve and grow. Perhaps our lack of feeling ever or fully satisfied and a need to keep pursuing more is our creator’s master plan.

To summarize:

Step One: Enjoy the process of the journey. Be present to the experience of being alive and fully engaged.

Step Two: Savor the victory. Drink it in. Express gratitude to any and all who helped you succeed.

Step Three: Take all you have learned, profited from through your persistence in reaching your desire goal. Then ponder what might be next on your horizon.

This does appear to be part of our evolution, and it is therefore purposeful.

Remember: Actions you take to achieve what you have done are in themselves potentially part of the satisfaction and fun you can enjoy while achieving. By enjoying the process you can eliminate much or all of the anxiety that otherwise might bog you down.

I have one simple rule I try to follow:

Put all of my energy and focus on achieving my stated goal like it is the most important thing,

WHILE not becoming attached to the result.

I call this being two-headed. It may seem contradictory but I think it proves wise helpful.

Here’s another idea I use to guide me along my journey: See everything in life as either a test or a celebration.

As already stated it is appropriate to celebrate our achievements or milestones. We just need to realize that we cannot remain there forever or rest on our laurels. Enjoy the moment; ritualize the great accomplishment; but then move on. Also it’s important to know we can’t take our latest level of competence or mastery for granted. What do I mean?

Perhaps an example.

Napoleon suffered a huge battle and his final defeat at Waterloo. This was due to a seemingly inappropriate and premature victory. He and his army achieved a battle victory on June 18, 1815. Napoleon had brilliantly outmaneuvered Wellington’s 77,000 men, and in addition held back the more than 100,000 Prussians nearby, by getting his own soldiers in between those two enemy forces, thus keeping them from an ability to join together, which would have overpowered Napoleon and surely beaten him.

So when Napoleon’s army beat back Wellington’s men he initially pushed them into retreating and his army took over 160 British canons Wellington’s men had to leave behind. What happened next was decisive. Napoleon’s men were supposed to pound nails into the cannon’s touchhole – a small hole in early firearms through which the charge is ignited – in order to render them useless. But his men forgot to fill their pockets with nails before going into battle.

This proved fatal to Napoleon army as Wellington’s men eventually regathered, were strengthened by the Prussians, and they re-assaulted Napoleon’s men. Wellington’s army retook the still operable cannons and turned them toward Napoleon’s men to defeat them.

This defeat was all because of a presumed victory and a lack of a fistful of nails. Napoleon, a brilliant master of the particular form of warfare of his time, was beaten at Waterloo and it became his ultimate defeat.

One would argue success requires two things: (1) to see the big picture, and (2) while doing so also have the ability to pay attention to the details. With any victory or achievement we gain some new wisdom. We’ve covered before that we also gain wisdom from our defeats or our so-called losses; perhaps even more so.

How we approach various aspects of our life says a lot about who we are. Some of us are less concerned with apparent threats or with possible danger, and are more tolerant of ambiguity. These are people who tend to be more culturally and socially liberal, especially with matters such as, immigration, crime, and sexuality. These are people who also can more easily tolerate nuance, and who like to think in esoteric ways. They appreciate abstract art, even stories without clear endings, and enjoy ironic political satire.

There are also those who tend to be on alert and are more actively monitoring for possible threats. These people prefer certainty, closure, and they tend to be politically, culturally and socially more conservative. Since they are on an alertness they have a greater capacity to make decisions quickly and effectively by being guided by their intuition and emotion. These are people that like political opinions that are clear and efficient, and tend to think more linearly.

This second type of people more readily embrace order and predictability, are morally serious and have a deep and strong sense of duty and purpose. They hold a high value for tradition, loyalty and family. It’s not that the first type of people mentioned are opposed to such things, but they have a greater comfort with not knowing what may happen next, and have greater tolerance for ambiguity. They enjoy adventure and may be seen as more risk taking.

Conclusion: We need both kinds of people. We need both and we them to join together.

Most of us are not totally one way of the other, but have leanings of one direction over the other. The first group gives us exploration and art, and a way to remain open to uncertainty found in much of life. We’d not have astronauts or scientific discovery without such people. Whereas the second group offers us vigilance and safety from possible threat or harm. Their contribution is a capacity to cut down danger by thoughtful and realistic “risk assessment.” These are people who often do the important detail work for bringing dreams into reality.

Presently we are experiencing in our society a huge and dangerous polarization of these two groups of people. This division and demonization of the two types into factions is done with great intention. It is done for personal, financial and political benefit. It literally profits those who cause this fighting with each other and antagonizing one another. Those who intentionally incite the two differing peoples into becoming mortal enemies and to become alienated are making money, gaining power and building or keeping control. When we allow for the best of both thinking to flourish we all gain a much better overall result. Right now this cannot happen or is being undermined and deeply thwarted.

We therefore must take this responsibility on ourselves. We must advance our coming back together and bring about a greater appreciation for our distinct and differing voices.

No one has all of the wisdom; each of us has a piece of the wisdom. We need one another to contribute our various parts of the total to do great things.

I’ll leave this thought to ponder with this humorous point: Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.