Today, my son Ives is going fishing with his friend Brian. They have gone several times in the past and Ives seems to enjoy it enough to suffer a mild case of poison ivy with good grace, a price worth paying for doing what he likes to do.
Both boys throw the fish back, so as an outsider I am left imagining that there must be some other draw, some other hook in the activity. I don't ask what that hook might be because when someone enjoys doing something, then it is like the taste of tea ... the only way to know is to taste the tea and I sure as hell don't plan to go fishing.
But I am glad my son likes it. He has been going through uncertain times in the wake of high school graduation. What does the future hold? What should or could he be doing when he's really not sure what to do? He doesn't whine about these nibbling, nagging questions and I am sure he might speak about them in other terms, but when he says, as he did last night, "I haven't been myself lately," the issues are as bright as neon and, as a parent, I can't help wishing I could help in some way, take away the uncertainty, or give him a 'peace' injection. Naturally it can't be done, but that doesn't stop me from wishing and talking with him and listening as best I can ... it all feels ineffectual but I can't help hoping he will hear his teacher's teaching.
Fishing and the enjoyment thereof.
When I asked Brian why he liked fishing, he said tentatively, "Both my uncles like to fish. They took me out when I was little. I don't know ... it's calming. You never know...."
Fishing and the enjoyment thereof.
It's outside under a wide sky. The water neither accepts nor rejects the hopes and worries of those who drop worms and lures into the depths. Who knows what the future will bring? Maybe a fish. Maybe poison ivy. Maybe boredom. Maybe delight. Pick your maybe and the water neither agrees nor disagrees. To complain that the water "doesn't care," that the universe is oblivious and coolly impersonal ... the water doesn't mind, the sky doesn't mind ... go ahead, give it your best shot ... whine, philosophize, aggrandize, claim to be in control, wish you could 'understand,' ... the water doesn't mind, the sky doesn't mind.
It is nice that my son has found something to do that offers some opportunity to cut through his own bullshit, the bullshit that anyone might have, the sense that I am what is only to find life slapping you upside of the head. Get real! Of course you are what is ... but is that really what's important? When your friends are all around you, what in god's green earth are you doing searching for friends?
Of course fishing may offer no such enticement to my son. The teacher can teach all s/he likes, but if the student won't listen ... well, it can't be helped. It's no skin off the water's nose. But even so, even if a love of fishing does not cut through the bullshit, still the teaching is right in front of my son's nose and the quiet surroundings and necessary patience and occasional bouts of poison ivy and wetness of the water ... it's like a friend extending a hand. No one can explain. It explains itself with the 'patience' of water.
What baits the hook? What baits your hook? What enjoyment or sorrow beckons and teaches in one fell swoop? What friend extends his hand, simple as salt? What cuts through your bullshit? What is it that you can't control or out-think or weep for piteously? When all around are friends worthy of your love, why nag and natter with these one-night stands?
Relax. Have a beer. Toss your line into the passing water. Smile. Fuck the 'teachings.' Fuck the 'teacher:' Just hang a sign on the door reading, "Gone Fishing" and then, go fishing. Love what you love and find out, with time and an occasional case of poison ivy, how unexceptional and enjoyable love is.