Unless you know me well, you might not know that in 2007 I placed second in a fishing derby. I had not fished prior to this contest and was definitely naive in my approach, from simply casting and tying knots to even knowing when or where to fish. I was even overly optimistic to think that if you hooked a fish that you would be guaranteed to bring it in/catch the said fish. (To set the record straight, this is not true. Hooking a fish ≠ always catching the fish. )
Still, once I got my first nibble, I was hooked. Each time a fish bit my line, I experienced a child-like sense of excitement. Sometimes I’d even scream, “A fish!! A fish!! OMG I have a fish on the line!” This was accompanied by a mile-wide grin on my face. And once I’d actually caught a fish… I danced around for 15 minutes with pure unabashed joy and a feeling of accomplishment.
Don’t get me wrong, fishing has its ups and downs and frustrations. You can be diligent and prepared. You think that you have the right bait, lure, spot, time etc., but still you don’t catch a thing. I myself experienced 11 days straight where the only thing I caught was a 4″ stripper (legal length is 32″).
Fishing the derby brought unexpected moments of joy and an appreciation of the simple things around me.
Dusk brought breathtaking sunsets fill with lines and sprinkles of grey and purple to brilliant oranges and pinks. And did you know, that same brilliance and awe-inspiring view is also evident in a sunrise? Before the derby I couldn’t recall ever seeing a sunrise from beginning to end. The world truly wakes up before your eyes. It’s hard to accurately describe and something you just have to see and experience for yourself.
I also found that there was joy in simply seeing the fish break the water while feeding. There are ripples, mini white caps and fish that jump out of the water. From the False Albacore (Albie) with its slick, shiny brown skin that looked like a football when it jumped in an arc, to the kerplop and gulping sounds the large Stripped Bass made twice a day. Even the violent feeding frenzy and turbulent frothy waters of fish parts the Bluefish caused when chasing and eating Bunker (bait fish) was a thrill to see. Sometimes just these visual experiences and even the thrill of the hunt to catch and weigh in a fish were fulfilling enough.
It was as if I was almost transported back to a simpler time on the shore and on the water. Sights and sounds that brought me peace and the appreciation of the beauty of nature. I experienced a different perspective of the world around me, and it didn’t include any electronic bells or whistles. I simply could find pleasure by casting my line and watching nature play itself out.
The derby gave me success, validation and a feeling of accomplishment, but it also taught me to pause and try to see more than just the troubles that I may have or to constantly rush from place to place or meeting to meeting. It forced me to disconnect and taught me to pause and appreciate the nature around me.
Have you ever taken the time to disconnect from modern technology and view the world around you? Have you ever truly stopped to smell the roses that line the sidewalk where you live or appreciate the silence or occasional rustle of leaves and/or twigs on a forest path? Why not try it today.
And if you haven’t seen a sunrise – I guarantee it is worth getting up for, especially those one in late summer or early fall.