It’s surprising to me when I realize I’ve taken something for granted that others consider amazing. It happened the other day, while fishing with a guest who’s an executive in a high-powered company, and it made me stop and rethink our sport.
It wasn’t a particularly good bite, but we had caught a few nice fish as the afternoon wind ramped up. I was doing my usual dance of driving the boat while running back and forth to the downriggers to make sure they were set correctly when I noticed that my guy was just sitting there, staring into space, seemingly totally bored! I was concerned that the trip wasn’t meeting his expectations and I decided to test the waters. “Jim, how are you doing?” I asked. That’s when I learned an old lesson!
He quietly replied, “I’m so relaxed, I can’t believe it, I needed this very badly! I’m having the time of my life out here. What could be better?” Wow, had I misread that situation! Obviously I had forgotten how special it can be just to be on the water. Yes, catching fish was key to him, but his response was a reminder of the stressful reality most face daily. They’re looking for some way to unload their burdens, even if for just a short time.
To watch a man unwind as the day went on gave new perspective on what fishing and being out on the water means to many. He wasn’t just interested in a big fish, he was really looking for … peace. That’s the precious intangible I was providing and didn’t even know it. I was too close to it all the time.
As I pondered this, it came to me that this is why I love fishing. It’s where I’m totally myself. On the water, I’m not worried about what others may think, if I’m measuring up or what gut-wrenching political issues have developed that day, or dealing with any other unnecessary drama! It’s where I shed everyday issues that bog down my mind and it gives me a fresh start. We all need an escape hatch!
I forget that my world is a foreign place to 95 percent of the planet and I tend to take it for granted that enjoying the incredible world of water, birds, wildlife, fish and clouds are how others live, too! Not! So what would cause a grown man to seek out solace from a fast-paced, pressure-filled life?
I believe most of us are so tied into instantaneous social media, news, information, entertainment and sports that it’s almost like being there as it all unfolds. We no longer have a time buffer between when things happen and when we experience them, creating an environment where we tend to overreact to the unedited input. How can you digest it all emotionally or mentally that fast! I don’t believe we’re made to handle that much immediate raw sewage without some serious respite to clear our minds. I believe this is what many of my guests are trying to unload.
When I’m fishing, I feel focused and on purpose. Nothing is impinging on my mind and this lets me be my best me. I watched the guy slowly become quiet and content. It seems the “pure” quality of time on the water lets us come back to neutral. I’ve watched it work many times.
I’m blessed to be able to fish regularly; it helps me keep my sanity! It’s where I’m totally in the moment and me. My guest experienced the rest and calm he had hoped to find, and he didn’t need drugs or alcohol to have it.
Yes, many anglers are intense, focused, fanatical types who just want to know how to catch more and bigger fish: I IS one! But after all is said and done, what have you accomplished if you haven’t experienced the peace and pure joy our sport can provide? Never take it for granted how special our sport is in a crazy world. Peace! Never give up!