Mike is a buddy from the Bay Area who is an avid striper fisherman. We usually talk on a weekly basis sharing our ideas, insights and conclusions about our trips. But earlier this year Mike found out that he had a small, slow-growing tumor on his pancreas. His doctor told him he needed a massive operation to fix it but that it wasn’t life-threatening – yet.
Our talks turned from sharing striper stories to discussing Mike’s surgery, his future and his life.
I realized that Mike needed hope and normalcy, so I began calling him before and after each fishing trip. He was vicariously living the trip along with me. I found that this was more important than any other thing I could do for my buddy. He told me that our talks brought normalcy, peace and hope to him in a time of fear, anxiety and depression.
I was driving home one night when Mike said, “All I want is to be able to take care of my family, get my health back and be able to somehow fish again.”
His concerns caused me to take a new inventory of my life and what was really important. And it brought a question: What is it about fishing that would cause someone to cherish it so much he would count it as a key goal in a potentially life-threatening situation?
Maybe it’s because it represents what’s best, pure, true, good and honest about who we are inside. It hit me that fishing seems to somehow represents our best self in many ways. Yes, when I’m on the water I’m pretty close to feeling and being the person I would like to be all the time. Mike’s journey and our deep talks were helping me, too!
The five-hour surgery was successful, and one of the first things Mike said after he woke up was that he was ready to get going on rehab, get back to normal, and get back to fishing!
He has had several serious setbacks, but he’s always determined to get past it all and back to a life he loved. He is doing very well, recovering each day. We talk about the first day he’s going out fishing – I’m taking him.
My lesson: Life is short, keep the basics the basics, love your family, be humble and faithful, keep your hope and dreams alive and never give up!