I went fishing with my husband yesterday. Sorry, let me be more precise. By “I went fishing with my husband,” I mean I sat on a park bench behind him and read while he fished. It was a balmy 70° day and as much as I hate being outside, it is criminal not to savor a mid-November treat like that.
We went to a local park with a small pond, he picked a spot and fished for a while. I read a book my sister-in-law gave me by Whitney Johnson called, Dare Dream Do because it’s a good book and because watching fishing is slightly less entertaining than watching golf. So I wasn’t really paying attention. I figured that I’d hear something when he caught a fish. The excitement is all in the catch.
I’m an avid people watcher so I glanced up on occasion to observed the many strollers by. About twenty minutes in, two young people with an adorable little dog passed us and set to fishing about thirty feet away.
They were fishing for about ten minutes when I heard splashes. The young man pulled in a little fish and released it. Five minutes later he caught another. Ten minutes later another.
That was when I started paying attention to my husband. Cast after cast after cast, he caught nothing. That’s not exactly true. He caught an awful lot of old fishing line. He caught someone else’s old lure (and then he lost three of his own). But he didn’t catch one fish. Not one. And that young man just a few yards away caught fish after fish after fish.
I didn’t ask him about it then – something about salt and open wounds – but I was intrigued to see how he would deal with failure in the face of someone else’s success. He was calm and measured (if a bit dismayed) and he just kept casting.
That kind of thing would eat away at me. All of the negative self-defeating questions would seep into my head:
What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? Why am I not being successful? Am I just a failure? Why do I even bother?
Maybe I should just give up.
But he didn’t give up. He doesn’t give up. Some days he makes great catches and some days he catches nothing, and he never knows which kind of day it will be before he takes out his rods, but he still goes. Why? Because he doesn’t just love catching fish. He loves fishing. He loves the lures and the casting and the technique. He does love catching fish, but that is not what draws him back again and again and again. What draws him back is the recognition that he will never catch a fish unless his line is in the water and the knowledge that everything can change on the next cast. But he knows by now that some days the fish just don’t bite.
Some days the fish just don’t bite. But that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you, or that you are doing something wrong, or that you are a failure. Some days the fish just don’t bite. So whatever it is you are fishing for in your life, keep casting your line into the water. It’s the only way you will ever catch a fish. Don’t sell your poles or donate them to Goodwill over a few bad fishing trips. Your luck could change on the next cast.
Light The Darkness,