A Fish Tale:
a true philosopher is a fighter not a fencer. A fencer has to put on armor and pick up a weapon. A fighter just has to close their fist. - Marcus Aurelius
We need to be so on top of our work—and the knowledge required—that everything we need is right there, already in our hands and in our heads. If you’re rushing, you’re already too late. If you’re looking for your weapons, you’re already beaten.
My life as of late has felt a bit hectic. There are a lot of balls in the air, and my conscience is nagging at me that I'm not preparing well enough, taking time to properly study my philosophy, etc. That has let a tenseness take root in my mind, likely a result of guilt from feeling like I'm not living up to self-imposed ideals, not getting enough done, etc. Also broke my Lenten fast from mobile social media a few times and been carrying around some guilt from that. My wife routinely chastises me for carrying around this Irish catholic guilt. Ultimately it just seems a funk fueled by the feeling that I wasn't being my best is weighing me down. Then I yelled at my girls the other morning and that guilt hung around my neck hard.
So I decided to hit the water and go fishing. The plan was crafted for 4 hours on the water, with a specific location on Sandy River Reservoir in mind. I had a plan and a technique ready to deploy. But per usual lately, I was rushing to get ready and out the door.
The lake was high and muddy, but I was determined to execute and have a good time. The cormorants were out in full force, perched in the trees as I paddled silently past. The wind which had been blowing a little died down just as I slid into my spot. I started casting, hitting the marks I wanted to hit. And Boom! Seventh cast was a big bite! My heart started racing! It was only my second time on the water this year and I'd scored a spring pig for sure!
As I reeled her in I could tell right away that this was a stout fish. I got her in the net and gave the familiar fist pump that comes with executing your plan to perfection. I snapped a couple pics with the GoPro and was reveling in the moment of catching my 3rd best largemouth....and that's when the wheels started to come off the bus.
While switching positions of the GoPro, I dropped it into the lake in eight foot of water. I tried to net it but couldn't come up with it. In a scrambling moment of trying to get my phone out ( of a new PFD), and preserve a memory, the phone bounced across the deck of my kayak and PLUNKED into the lake!
I secured the fish to some fish grips in the water, off the side and jumped into Sandy River. I was up to my neck in frigid water slopping through muck trying to "feel" the phone or the GoPro. Side Note: my phone also had Drivers License, credit cards, etc attached to it. After 5 mins of frantic searching I spied the fat belly bass looking at me. I laughed to think that all this to-do was a result of catching a pregnant pre-spawn fish. It was time to let her go with out a camera to capture her beauty. What a funny pursuit we chase.
I released her back into the murky water and continued to search the muck for another 20 mins or so. Knowing that I had to get off the water and pick up my girls from school, I headed back to the launch with a bruised ego.
As I contemplated my predicament, the realization came: I needed to steady my mind. We make mistakes when we don't take care to nurture our ideals and earnestly strive to meet them. It seems a funny lesson to glean from such a recreational pursuit, but I'm apt to find meaning in these moments. Like all facets of life, a fishing mission is more successful when you are properly prepared. I launched this day in a paddle-craft that I'd only been on once before. I didn't set it up properly as I rushed to get on the water and in position. The PFD I was wearing was new and different from my normal one. And so when the time came to boat and document the big bass, my body had the unease that comes from lack of preparation and unfamiliar tools. Mayhem ensued.
But equally important was the lesson derived from constantly driving to document everything. The freedom of being without my phone, and my wallet left me to focus on what I had left. In that time I picked up my girls from school and then called my wife from a land line.
All of them said the same thing; "We are glad you are ok and safe."
My family is the most important thing to me, and I'm the most important thing to them. I was in a remote section of the lake, alone, and jumped in (with a drysuit) to chest deep water to try and locate my lost GoPro and phone. I spent around 30 mins submerged in cold water, in a remote area.
I need a VHF radio.
On a philosophical level, my family is the most important thing to me. I should spend less time being distracted by work, etc and all the trappings of technology and more time being present with them. Also, I need to cultivate deeper, less distracted thought towards my other pursuits and activities. We only get one spin around on this ride of life. My objective is to push harder in that pursuit to live it more intentionally and with stricter accordance to the ideals I strive towards. Because what I've learned is that when I do not, when I get distracted, mayhem tends to ensue. That lesson pertains to life on the water and off.
So the other day I lost my phone, my wallet, and a GoPro, but I caught a big bass, and more importantly a renewed sense of life's mission.
“Not to feel exasperated, or defeated, or despondent because your days aren’t packed with wise and moral actions. But to get back up when you fail, to celebrate behaving like a human—however imperfectly—and fully embrace the pursuit that you’ve embarked on.”- Marcus Aurelius