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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Used to Catch Fish

Something’s off… I feel unbalanced and my energy feels as if I have a slow leak somewhere. It’s an uneasy feeling as if something out of my control is draining me. And as I stopped to think of this I realized my attitude was reflected in how I was treating my spouse. And so I listened to my inner voice which told me that today was a day to move in a new direction.
My impression of a neighbor
I turned off my computer, disconnected my phone, grabbed mosquito repeller, a bottle of water and a large brimmed straw hat and headed out doors. I found myself in my special quiet place by the water that has a front row seat on our dock. As I sat looking out on the sparkling water dappled in sunlight I realized I was drawn here and did not know why. I am slowly learning not to question this and just follow my heart. I closed my eyes and began a meditation and offered a prayer asking for protection and help in connecting with all creatures that live in the water out our back door. My head was bowed and when I opened my eyes two beautiful fish were peering up at me. I was astonished as they seemed to have swam to me waiting for me to notice them. I said a silent hello telling them how pretty they were and watched them slowly swim in and out of the pilings below in what seemed like a ballet. They were each graceful and I studied the effects of the light as it glittered on their scales of teal and pearl gray. A school of tiny green striped fish nipped at the insects on the surface and I smiled thinking how I have never seen fish in what felt like my own home, swimming so carefree in their own environment. As I was allowing myself to float along with them I was startled by what appeared next. A sleek black long necked bird surfaced and then dove under again leaving large circular ripples on the water. It happened so quickly I thought to myself “did I just imagine that?” Up it surfaced again a few feet away as if to reply. It began dunking its head under and flapping its wings and it was cleaning itself much like the tiny birds do in puddles after it rains. How amazing I thought as it stretched its neck glancing over to me and then flew away close along the surface tap tapping the top of the water in its farewell flight. Is this my communication with the creatures of the water in my back yard I thought? Tiny rings of water appeared close by as if droplets were falling from the sky. As I looked closely I could see the iridescent noses of the needlefish that were dining on passing tiny insects that stopped for a drink. This pecking created unusual patterns on the water and I viewed this not as a picnic but more like a work of art.
Mangroves sipping from their own straws
I sat back and thought about what I was watching. The serenity of my little encounter with the nature around me was beginning to help me feel more balanced. The two larger fish that had greeted me previously appeared again and seemed to stop and look up at me. “Teach me something, I said, I want to learn and I know you can show me something new.” I watched as they moved gracefully into the shadows of the mangrove trees that sip with curled roots along the banks nearby. The thought came to me… Is this my back yard or is it theirs? Am I sitting in my world gazing at them as they are looking at me in mine? Or do we share it together and there is no back yard…only one world…one big yard? We are one, came the thought, and we need to understand that we are all equally important.
The swimming fish did not reappear and I was reminded of a time in my past when I was in search of them. Years ago I used to enjoy a day of catching fish. I would sit in a boat as the hours slipped past sharing these outings with my father. I cherished this time together. The wind on my face, the sun on my back, the smell of salt water and the sound of our laughter echoing off the water is a loving memory for me. I really delighted in those lazy fishing days. Looking back now I can see it was for all of the other things, not necessarily the act of catching fish. The time spent with my dad and the peace and knowledge we could enjoy through nature. Artists and photographers have tried to copy it and some have written books about it but nothing can replace the experience of it. No television or movie screen can begin to capture the essence of it. This is what I was really after, not the fish.
I looked down below the surface at the leaves and plant life being slowly tossed by the current. I thought about being there in the stillness of the day alone with all of this tranquility. I was taught several lessons from my perch on this sun-bleached deck today…how can I share this with my children I thought?  And slowly the answer came to me. For years I have put my trust in man to protect and preserve the nature we enjoy. But it’s not for our enjoyment or pleasure like a movie or a good book. It’s a life-force that shares our existence and we blindly allow others to destroy it all in the name of progress. Progress at what cost, and how is it defined if it devastates our environment? So what can I do…I am only one person?
By taking a few moments out to meditate on my dock trying to restore my energy I have realized a truth that I have ignored for many years. The companies that have the most money and power do not care about the planet. To them it’s someone else’s back yard. But for me I will stop relying on others who tell me that protective measures are in place. I need to start asking who placed these environmental laws in place and who oversees them? Many people worry about their own community and themselves- the cause and effect of their own lifetimes. If we continue on this path then we will continue making the same mistakes, which are truly destroying the world around us. We need to start thinking for ourselves and investigate all of the research and we need to do this not thinking only of ourselves but for all life forms and for the generations to come.
The wing of the dragonfly becomes my arrow
And so as I began to feel the sweat rolling down my back I closed my eyes and lifted my head to catch the breeze that was passing through the palms dancing above me. As I opened my eyes a dragonfly drifted into view and I followed its path up and into the branches overhead. I grinned as it reminded me to look up and a chirping tiny bird sitting on a branch rewarded me with its song. As it hopped from limb to limb I admired its bright yellow throat. You are so beautiful I have seen you before in this tree I thought and it quickly darted out of sight.
I gathered up my belongings and said goodbye to all of the inhabitants of what will forever be known as “our” backyard. And as I approached my house I thought of the lessons that were brought to me by two beautiful fish…the ones I used to try and catch…the ones that have now caught my attention reminding me that we are all sharing a journey together. Today was a good day… it was a lazy sittin’ on a dock day…
and a whole new way of goin’ fishing.
If you would like to learn how to begin meditation please see Lesson 1 Meditation