Its only been a few weeks since I re-discovered my love for the water. I should have understood this fact from the beginning as I’ve lived near the water at the highest points in my life. However, life often blinds us to the simple things that enrich our lives.
I have spent so much time on my friend’s boat this summer, that I can feel the gentle rocking of the river even when I am lying still on my couch. It’s an exhilarating experience when you first step onto the boat, feeling how small you are compared to the might of the James river. You can feel the boat responding subtly to your movement as you shift from port to starboard. And the smell of the water overwhelms your mind with a melange of fragrances, carried on gentle breezes in heat and in cold.
I do love the excitement of fishing, especially for catfish. It has nothing at all to do with the need to forage for food. It is much more than that. When you are pulling in the fish, you have to be the fish for that span of time between hooking and landing. For that short time, you have to be one with the fish, understanding how you would try to escape what you feel to be an inevitable end your existence. You can sense the primal fear that is coursing through its veins as you try to coax it to the surface. But, the fish is not wise enough to know who I am, or understand that I simply wish to catch it and release it back — and create an adventure for another day.
Friday, I was fishing and I landed a four pound catfish — miniscule compared the river monsters that lurk in the depths of the channel I fish. That fish found me with the vigor or any human — rolling over, thrashing, trying to wrap my line around a pier. It breached the surface three times in my twenty-minute struggle — that deep blue and white indicative of the species — teasing me with each laborious moment. And, when I finally landed it, we saw eye to eye. The fish acquiesced to the fact that I had bested it. However, what was absent in its vacant black eyes was the understanding that I merely meant for us to compete. I wasn’t interested in keeping it — though I do love the taste of catfish — I can’t bear to take life. It does not seem fair for me to decide such things — as with many aspects of my life. I cannot be the judge or executioner because I do not have all the data that explains the full breadth of my action.
Fish are a lot like people. They live, they breed, they feed and the die. It is the fundamental aspect of being an organic creature in our wonderful but strange world. What I like about the catfish is that they are extremely intelligent, and engaging them in a fight is truly satisfying, like playing chess with an unknown opponent. But make no mistake on the level if their intelligence. They will outwit you in a heart beat if you are not careful.
We often catch people in our lines. You toss out your line into the water or into the world, and you do no know what will come up. That’s the beauty of our world in all aspects. I have often found that we are constantly casting our lines out into the world — to find friends, lovers or like-minded individuals. It is all done blindly because we cannot know what our line will catch. It may be what we are looking for, but it may be something completely different. What’s more, is it may be something more amazing than what we had originally intended to catch or do battle with.
I throw my line out with no expectations of what I will or will not catch. I’ve learned that the moment I try to target something specific, it seldom yields the I wanted. Now, I’ve learned that the universe will give you what you need, when you need it. It is the learning to listen that becomes the challenge.
I spent my weekend with amazing people, living in each individual moment, trying to improve who I am. Everyone in your life — the ones that contribute something positive (not necessarily intellectually) — brings something useful and enriching to your existence. You many not immediately understand the connection, or even the purpose, but if you look at the serendipity of those you have met, you will find that you are being guided. This is not so say its someone controlling you. This is to say that your impact on the universe is recognized, and you just have to learn to listen to those prompts.
After 43 years, I am only beginning to understand the music of our universe. But, I will say that I have learned when to listen and when not to listen, because there is a fair amount of noise.
I wrote this post from a partially selfish perspective. I wanted to record this weekend, for future reference, but I also wanted to impart to you — my friends — that life can truly be magnificent. We simply need to see it for what it is — moment to moment.