As I drove up to the lake the other day a thought popped into my head: “You know what self, I believe the world has gone crazy!” Whoa! I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way.
However, I also joyfully considered that I would be fishing soon, giving me a chance to reset mentally in the solitude while regaining perspective on life. Cosmic! Moments later I came around a final curve and suddenly was confronted by a jammed parking lot! It was buzzing with a sea of people, all anxiously trying to relax – together. No! Ever take a cold bath …!
The ramp was full of boaters trying to launch or take out their boats, all at the same time. Finally a space opened and I made a dash for it, backing my boat down quickly to waters edge. I tried not to hyperventilate as I undid the straps, telling myself to relax and that it’ll be all right. Was I really doing this? The word idiot came to mind.
On the other side of the dock another boat was unloading about eight people, mostly young adults along with a couple of parents. Within moments it was obvious that just about every person in the crowd would do something funny after getting out of the boat. Each would take a few steps onto the dock, freeze, then go into a zombie-like state! At this point I had about six people standing where I needed to go and who would just grunt and move a few inches before staring back down at the little slim devices that had each one’s full attention.
They looked like a crowd of statues with bent heads and narrowed eyes, oblivious to anything around them, right in the middle of a dock with boats all looking for a space. This went on for 10 minutes, and I worked my way through the static group five or six times. A little while later, when they finally regained consciousness, I watched as each one pried their eyes loose from their cellphone. They looked around like they were lost. I figured it was an extreme group case of postpartum cell phone syndrome! I wonder if they knew they were at a lake, beyond the selfies they posted. In their world, 200 likes were what counted!
In a matter of 15 minutes I saw two boats pull out of the water dragging their engine skegs along the cement. It was a circus, and the clowns were running the show! I helped one guy who was directing (loudly) his diminutive wife to center a huge 24-foot pontoon on a difficult trailer as he pulled up. Poor gal was near tears. I pushed the heavy unit into place and he finally smiled! Husbands can be so darn obtuse. (I resemble that remark!)
Making the run up the lake, I thought about my experiences at the ramp. What was it all about? Why do we act like we do? My take on this is that life and the near-daily craziness we are experiencing have ratcheted up, making folks more anxious and disconnected than ever. For some reason, fishing, boating, water and the outdoors just seem to be where many folks unconsciously gravitate to decompress from stressful lives. I found in professional sports that it can be hard to unwind and relax, allowing yourself to perform at your best. Relaxed focus is tough to achieve.
My point is that I believe we enjoy some real advantages from our sport that we may take for granted, especially in our current toxic society. Yes, many tell me they would love to fish more because they know how important and fun it is. So why don’t they do it, I often ask. Funny, they tell me they’re too stressed out to take the time.
I think we have an effective antidote, one that works. You’ve only got one life. Relax – and never give up!
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at email@example.com,