A few weeks ago I went fishing for the first time. It was very amateur catch and release of fish barely big enough to qualify as a catch, but it was still fishing. I learned a few things about myself on the lake that day. Mostly, I learned I have no stomach for fishing. I’m all for food-chain/evolutionary eating and I’m one of those terrible people who puts animals in a priority of life pecking order. Meaning, I know I could never shoot a deer, but I didn’t think I’d have any trouble hooking a slimy, wriggly fish.
I was wrong. Looking into the eyes of those little dudes as we tried to quickly remove hooks in time to get them back in the water was just more than I could handle. I guess I’m more of a softy for our non-mammal friends than I thought. I’ll still grill up salmon for dinner, but I’ll leave the catching to the pros.
My fishing opinions aren’t what I’m thinking about today. The other thing I learned out on that lake was how to cast a line and reel it in. At first, I was scared to cast too far away from the boat for fear of losing the line altogether. I wasn’t sure I could handle the pole and I was even more unsure of what I’d do if I actually got a fish. After a bit of avoidance, I was bored enough to find out. Sure enough, I got more and more brave with each cast. Then I even figured out how to control the line and aim toward the area that I knew fish were biting.
It was pretty interesting how surprised I was each and every time I reeled the thing back in without disaster arising. Each time I cast in the beginning, I was certain I’d do it all wrong. Then, as I saw proof of my own ability not to totally mess stuff up, I got a bit more brave.
It seems, for me, life might just be a bit like fishing. Sometimes, you have to cast your line out into the unknown, often farther away than you’re comfortable with. Then you have to trust yourself to follow-through and reel it in, just as you need to, each particular time. You have to trust the process. You have to be patient. You have to trust yourself and maybe, no, probably everything will come together.
In fishing, you can’t let your worry about making a mistake on the reel-in stop you from casting. Because if you do, then what’s left but an afternoon on a lake doing nothing but looking out at the water and wondering what if? In life, it’s pretty much the same thing. I can’t let my fear of what might happen next stop me from trying step one. Because, that day on the lake, I also learned this about myself: even if I don’t like the act of catching a fish, I dislike sitting in a boat doing nothing even more.
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