Monday, December 13, 2010

Learn to fish

I have never been a big fan of fishing. I can say that it's because I have a tendency to get seasick. I can say it is because this city boy has no need to put my fingers in the mouth of a fish or pull its guts out. I can even say that it goes as deep and nutty as I stay away from a lazy pastime that parades itself as a sport. In reality, there's one simple reason. I don't like the passive-aggressive nature of that activity, specifically on the part of the fish. I know that the real anglers will say the fish wants to be caught but that give and take that can go on for hours is not what I'm about. I like clearly defined roles. I like things to be linear and progressive. Reel some in, let some out, reel in more, let more out. Three steps forward, two steps back. I'm a man, it's a fish. It should be an open and shut case of me reeling it in.

As you can imagine, none of what I have to say today is about fish or the act of entrapment of fish. It is clearly a metaphor for something bigger. At least I see a connection between fishing and what else is really on my mind; you may not. Let me just say that I can almost see the need for that relationship with a fish. There is no way to level with the fish and say - "Listen, you're a damn fish. We all know who is gonna win this. Let's just save some time and get you in the bucket in my boat." You can't reason with a fish or gain perspective. A fish can't say back, "I hear ya buddy, but see... I was on my way home to the wife and kids so this whole catching and eating me thing just isn't gonna work out for me. How about we part ways and just call it good?"

I suppose the complexity inherent in being a person higher on the food chain is enough to mean that our also complex communication abilities don't hold. Maybe life is zero sum after all. What I mean to say is that I, in my unrealistically idealistic and utopian mind, I think that people should always be able to communicate. To the contrary, our complex wants, desires, thoughts, internal musings and lack of communication often create a deep-rooted inability to bring things to the surface.

Let's look at my behavior for a moment. My mind is a constant game of chess. Every iteration of the game from the first movement of a pawn unfurls in my mind. I have a proclivity to determine every possible move and outcome of any situation. I, often, make no move in the first place if I can't be sure how it will all work out. Other times, I make a move and commit to its path and hope the other party makes the moves I foresaw. Rarely do either work out so I try to be adaptable to things that change and adjust accordingly; try being the operative word.

Enter the human dynamic. Not only can you not count on the actions of another to be what you expected; rarely can you count on the actions of another to be what they expected. Here is where you find your favorite, long-winded friend today. Confused and feeling a little like the rug came out from under me. Let me see if I can explain yet remain abstract.

I was heading down a road at a certain speed. All was well. Suddenly I picked up speed, but there as no resistance. To that end, I was encouraged. All was well. Now there was momentum. Suddenly, there was a wall in the way. I did not see this wall nor was I warned about this wall. All was not well. Rather than alerting me, my "travel companion" saw fit to jump from the vehicle to safety. It was then that I was told that the increased speed was problematic, but it was too late. Even slamming on the breaks did not stop me in time and inertia sent me careening headlong into the wall. When I came to from the shock and suddenness, I knew that the damage was total. I was given an estimate that shows it's reparable but there is no corroborating evidence. All is still not well.

Now I will spend time alone at the crash site trying to determine if the road is safe for passage or if this means it will fork and I will soldier on down a new road, on a new journey, on my own. If I had my way, I would have one of three things. The first would be to back up and repeat at the same rate sans wall. The second would be, downshift in time to slow down which would mean by the time the wall was reached, it would no longer be there. The last would be telltale signs of the existence of this wall early enough to make it avoidable.

I guess that's the difference between me and most people. When things change I have to adapt and this forces me to be reactive rather than proactive. I just don't see the changes coming in the near term because I'm fixated on the goal. I try to sprint a marathon and end up doing so alone. People don't want to take up that task and consequently, when I look to my sides I realize they aren't there.  I don't understand the ways of letting out some line and reeling some back in over and over.

Maybe I should find new ways of handling these situations. Maybe I should be less black and white; less pragmatic. Maybe I should just learn to fish.

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