My sons’ recent fishing exploits in our farm pond and in nearby Lake Lanier have taught them a number of lessons about patience, luck, and persistence. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I’ve seen them experience in a number of ways is that of realizing that the fish don’t just magically attach themselves to your lure, even if you feel you have done everything right.
The hardest part about fishing is not catching anything. Such days, especially when there aren’t any bites either, challenge even the most dedicated fisherman’s enthusiasm. And dampened enthusiasm can easily lead to a lack of appreciation, if care is not taken to preserve the sense of wonder which should rightly attend any activity in life.
At any rate, my sons’ realizations (which are occasionally fueled by relatively long periods without a catch) have got me thinking about the fact that life is not a stocked pond. Whether one is born with a silver or a plastic spoon in one’s mouth, life must be carefully navigated. Even the richest man’s life can end in mental, emotional, or spiritual poverty if he does not handle his choices with great care, which begins incidentally with the constant maintenance of a spirit of appreciation, no matter what one is facing at any given time.
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden