Tips for Fishing and Living # 99

Tip # 99:

“Three-fourths of the Earth’s surface is water, and one-fourth is land.  It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn.” 

Chuck Clark

Some would also argue, and do so fervently, that because we have two ears and only one mouth we ought to be listening twice as much as we talk. That being the case one could also suggest we preach more powerfully by our actions than we do with any of our words. 

Getting back to the water notion, we humans are also made mostly of water. Our bodies contain up to 78% water. That’s a lot of water. These days we make much about being sufficiently hydrated. We can live much longer without food than we can without water. Today NASA’s Perseverance is probing Mars looking for signs of water to tell us if life is or was on this distant planet. Water is essential for life.

While I am always leery of those who know exactly what the good Lord intends for us to do, if I were to venture on this topic I’d say, “Perhaps the good Lord intends for us to be happy.” Overall, I think the point with this Fishing Tip is that we are to “Seize the day” by doing the stuff we deem important. It’s up to us to figure out what this looks like and what we think is important. It likely has a lot to do with going after what we really desire, and not allowing fear to keep us from actualizing our desires.

Two old films that relate to this theme:

First one is Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep as the two main characters. In it each dies and goes to a Disneyworld-like holding Station to be assessed as to whether or not they lived their lives out fully. The basic question each must answer: “Did you do all you wanted to do in your life, or did you allow your fear to keep from doing so?” I think it is pretty clear Chuck Clark (author of the above fishing quote) is chiding us to spend our limited time here on this planet doing exactly what we enjoy doing. This does require us giving up the myriad of shoulds we carry about, as well as, our numerous fears and apprehensions. It requires us to jettison everything that doesn’t float our boat (water related metaphor intended!), as well, and to go after whatever it is we desire.

Second film is Shirley Valentine. This old film is about a middle-aged woman from Great Britain, a wife and mother, who is unhappy with her life and decides to take a vacation to Greece with two women friends. When it’s time to return home she decides to stay. During her time in this small shoreline town she re-discovers Shirley Valentine – the person that got lost and buried over in the roles she’d been living. As she gains more confidence in her re-discovery of herself regarding her own desires and what makes her happy she remembers that version of herself. She starts to embrace this Shirley Valentine and begins to feel alive.

There are lots of other choices besides choosing between going fishing or doing lawn care. Perfectly manicured lawns are highly over-rated. Around our neighborhood more lawns have been converted into vegetable gardens and perennial gardens. Throughout the pandemic and with our need to isolate, gardening has become a renewed joy that had gotten mostly lost in many people’s frenetic pace in our so-called modern world. More and more formerly front lawns and back yards have been transformed into creative expressions of one’s self. We see things such as: container gardens on fences, and on porches, and upper deck planters, and new gathering places complete with fire pits, and more.

Whatever your “it” happens to be, if you find joy and satisfaction doing it, then go for it. I have an old Nike placard that reads: Just Do It. I would argue that many of us create ingenious ways of stopping ourselves from doing those things we claim we want to do. We tell ourselves limiting thoughts. It can start as an inner dialogue about how impractical our ideas seem. We go about inventing reasons to not do it. This is called being reasonable. If that is so, then why not be unreasonable?

A life of bliss is more obtainable than we imagine. Yes, it most likely requires some serious hard effort on our part. It likely requires letting go of some older and ineffective behaviors. We have a friend that never completed her college education. She thought she was now too old. She calculated it would take her five years to finish by working full time and going to school part time. She said how old she’d be by the end of the five years. I asked her, “So how old will you be in five years if you don’t do this?” She got started and loved every minute of it. Since then this achievement landed her a whole new career path and opened up many new and exciting horizons.

This last year we witnessed our youngest grandchild learning to walk. Initially she got herself up by standing against a chair or some furniture. Then she’d let go and quickly fall; When this happened she’d get back up again. Essentially she kept doing this until she mastered standing on her own. Then came stepping and falling. Then came walking a few steps. Now she runs about very sure footed, with only an occasional fall. She was undeterred.

She didn’t know there is some reasonable limitation as to how many times she should or could fall before she was supposed to give up trying. Nobody gave her the memo about that. So she just kept doing these things until now she rarely falls and gleefully walks and runs about.

She was unreasonable. What a great role model for all of us! It helped that her parents kept watchful eye on her without being over-protective or by projecting their own fears and anxieties. All of us provided lots of smiles and expressions of encouragement – something we all can give too one another.

According to Wikipedia, “water is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth’s hydrosphere and the fluids of all known living organisms. It is vital for all known forms of life, even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients.”

When you think about it water’s pretty amazing. Some scientists claim that water is older than our sun. All of us know that water can be liquid, solid (ice), and vapor (steam).

I’m closing in on the final remaining Tips for Fishing and Living (going for 101), and so I have just a few opportunities left to push fishing as a metaphor for living a reflective and contemplative lifestyle. If there is any silver lining with this terrible pandemic it is that many of us have been forced to slow our lives down. With this we have had opportunities to become reflective about our lives and our world. More people have come to realize we ought to not go back to business as usual. The pre-pandemic society had much dysfunction; it did not facilitate us becoming our best selves.

Before I go get myself a thirst quenching drink of water I leave you with this New Serenity Prayer published by America Media. I think it is fitting and useful. It is all about letting go of trying to change others and to instead focus on our own growth, evolution and the amazing journey we are all on:

“God, grant me the serenity

To accept the people I cannot change,

Which is pretty much everyone,

Since I’m clearly not you, God.

At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God,

Please give me the courage

To change what I need to change about myself,

Which is frankly a lot, since, once again,

I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.

It’s better for me to focus on changing myself

Than to worry about changing other people,

Who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,

I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up

Whenever I think I’m clearly smarter

Than everyone else in the room,

That no one knows what they’re talking about

Except me,

Or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God,                                                                                                                                  

Grant me the wisdom

To remember that I’m not you.

All Together Now: “AMEN.”