I’m going to take a chance and share with you some observations I’ve re-examined in light of my heart attack. It’s amazing what facing your own mortality can do to your perspective on life, especially when you’re forging ahead at full speed thinking your future is in front of you and you’re feeling bulletproof.
One of the first things that floated through my mind (after my family) was the weird thought that I might not be going fishing again – ever. (Didn’t even think about the office.) A couple of hours earlier, I had just planned to do a workout and go home to eat dinner. Whoa! Now, I was wondering if I had already gone on my last trip. It was something I had never confronted in this fashion. What was so important that it came to mind at this point? Funny what you think of in a crisis, but it provides the kind of startling clarity to life that you don’t get most of the time. Here’s my take on it all.
Sitting in the hospital, you have time to think about the key things in which you’ve invested your life – and I realized that fishing means far more to me than just catching fish; it means freedom. The freedom to get away from the hectic world driving us each day and to reach a place that represents some sanity and peace.
Yeah, I could see that most of the things I was fretting about and that were affecting my attitude, were really not of any consequence. My time on the water was a time of healing and the chance to focus on the best things of life – like being with good friends or family – no matter what we caught.
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I can only tell you that my big hope and new dream was to find out how soon the doctor would let me go fishing again. That would be a significant milestone, for sure. It had become clearer to me that the times I had spent on the water with my best buddies and family had been very special and they were the times I cherished now more than ever. I also had the epiphany that if I hadn’t made it, these experiences would be the very ones they would probably remember me by. “Yeah, we had some great trips out catching some monsters together,” they would say.
They wouldn’t be talking about my career or how much time I spent at the office. What actually counted and why was crystal clear.
My first trip back fishing was with a great friend. I was excited to just get on the water with someone who I could again share my time and joy with – I didn’t care if we caught a fish or not. Connecting with someone in a special way is what makes life bearable and exciting. I saw my time on the water in a new light: As moments I was privileged to spend with someone who also cherished the pursuit and fellowship.
My motivation has changed. Each trip is now more special and I don’t take any for granted. Seeing what this time means to me and most other anglers has given me a new perspective on its importance. We all need to understand its true impact.
Evaluating what has really been important in my life till now was a sobering thought that has helped me reset priorities. I can see that my time fishing has been nothing but a blessing. It’s allowed me to meet many incredible people, get to know them and their families, and them mine. Fishing has had a positive impact on their lives and built lasting friendships.
What do you regret not doing? Are you too busy to do what your heart is telling you to do? At the end of the day, all that’s left are your family, friends and memories. Are you investing in what really matters, or are you stuck in a future “someday” fantasy? Life is now; there is no redo.
Never give up!