Fishing is a Life Metaphor

“[A]ngling or float fishing I can only compare to a stick and a string, with a worm at one end and a fool at the other.”

― Samuel Johnson

I use to fish. Quite often as a child and as a young man, but it’s been more than forty years since. There are many reasons why I stopped. I got married, worked, raised children, yard work around the house –  all those things that cause a degree of stress that many find relief from by going fishing, but I found to be just another thing that put another demand on my limited free time. And since retirement, I just haven’t had the desire to do it again. Not that I won’t, who knows?

I first learned at my father’s hands, at a lake high in the mountains of southwestern Virginia where my and our extended family – aunts and uncles and cousins – all rented cabins next to each other every summer, year after year. He taught me to use a spinning reel from the rowboat in deep water and to fly-fish along the shallow shoreline, and how to slowly row the boat with our lines just below the surface for fish in between, and how to keep changing the type of lure to find which best attracted the fish at the moment. And to never trust the advice of others (if they were particularly lucky somewhere, they’ve likely caught all that were there). Using our system we always caught at least a few, one way or the other, every day.

The secret to our success was knowing that, while there were fish to be caught there, exactly how and where changes from hour to hour and day to day, the time of year and the current weather, and that if you limit yourself to only one style of fishing, you’re liable to come home with an empty creel.

And therein lies the metaphor.

Whatever you are seeking in life, you’re unlikely to find it if you limit yourself. Don’t just trust the advice of others who will tell you where to go and what’s best, don’t rely on what worked last time, don’t keep going to back to where you were successful once, expecting the same results.

Be flexable in life. Things change, forget your expectations and adapt, and learn to use more than just one tool.

Just sitting there, always using only “a stick and a string, with a worm” and expecting it to always work, is foolish.

– Bill


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