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Fishing is not about fishing, and other paradoxes

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

I was taught how to fish by an aging uncle when I was very young. It was the mid-seventies. I’d been given a cane rod, and bubble float tackle to catch fish. We caught only eels that day, but it sold the hobby to me, and whilst fishing less, I still try.

The sport changed for me as I got older. In 2001, I wrote the poem “Lymm Dam”, the second stanza of which, began by expressing the sentiment, “I’m soon by the lake alone, but not viewed as lonely.” This implied that when we are physically alone and inactive, outsiders may think we look a bit like loners. I was a loner at the time. I hated my job. I had no friends, and it was solace to be peacefully by the lake.

I did catch a few small fish back then, but increasingly, I just wanted to be quiet and with nature; perhaps to feel part of nature; because I saw it as fair, reasonable, non-premeditating, scheming, or exploitative. Nature offered what was not in my world. In fact, many activities reach levels beyond what the surface appearances might suggest.

Juggling isn’t just about catching balls. Tai Chi is not a sequence of utterly pointless moves, it offers health improvements. Forrest Gump banged home this notion in inverse, having run for many months, with great outside interests, he suddenly stopped in the middle of nowhere, and turned to speak. Expecting the most utterly profound words, people silenced to intently listen to him. He said the classic and hilarious movie line, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”

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