I knew an incredible cast of characters in my “growing up” years. (Not sure I am out of them yet.) Most anyone from the Grand Manan of my day would know each and every one of them. The best way that I can describe my childhood to initiated island folk is to say that I had a Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer experience. I think we were poor but I am not 100% sure. Even if we were not, there was nothing that money could have added to our lives.
Rupert was a major player in those early years. I don’t think there were many days when the sunrise didn’t find us running and sundown reminded us that we ought to check in at home just to make sure that everyone was okay. Sequential adventures and mishaps filled our days and the memories bring absolute delight to my soul.
One of my favourite pastimes was brook fishing. I learned a life lesson on the Dock Brook. I call it the “Law of Creek Fishing”.
It began with cutting an alder and wrapping about 25′ of fishing line around the top on one end. We found our way to the edge of the brook, in stealth mode, careful not to cast unnecessary shadows on the water or to make loud noises that might scare the fish. Rupert routinely laid claim to the first deep hole. I would find the next. Apart from an occasional, “Are you getting any bites”, it was relatively quiet. Then the twigs would begin snapping and the bushes rustling. Rupert was looking for some better site after about 2 minutes in the first location.
My mind began to work.
If he gets too far ahead of me, he’ll catch all the big ones. Restless …
Patience would try to advise me to stay where I was just a little longer. I was always a patient person so I would give it another 30 seconds or so. The challenge now was to sneak past Rupert so as not to interrupt his attempt to pull the big one out of that spot under the tree. I was never able to do that. At the last instant he would glance over his shoulder and note the fact that I was now upstream of him.
Barely settled in my new pool I would hear him coming less like a quiet brook fisherman and more like a spooked buck.
A few more forever seconds more in my claim.
Then it occurred to me that I could make better time walking up the brook itself than trying to navigate the heavy bush.
You know where this is going … It turned into a race up the brook and the only fish we caught were the ones that we stepped on. But it was a beautiful boyhood memory.
The lesson for me is that life is best lived right where you are and in the race to get ahead we lose something for whatever dubious gains we might make. What we give away in life is tragic by times. As a general principle, our employers get the best deal regardless of what we are paid. That is just the way it works. The minute they begin to doubt this life gets more difficult. The golden goose is introduced to performance quotas.
Somewhere along the way we forget that we are the commodity and we begin to behave as dependents on those that we serve. Once that happens, we lose, regardless of what we gain. We lose our heart and souls when life becomes little more than an exchange of labor for pay checks. We stop believing in ourselves and even more we lose sight of the fact that God has created each of us uniquely, to live … uniquely.
What are your passions? What would you do in life if money were not a factor? What are the things that you always find time for? What makes you sing or dance? What grieves you most deeply? Somewhere in the midst of these kinds of questions is the thing that your life ought to be most about. And it is always possible … rarely easy … perhaps not always something that may bring riches … but always possible.
You get to keep your soul when you pursue the things that matter. You get to enjoy loved ones when you pursue the most important things.
Lily Tomlin said, “The problem with the rat race is that if you win, you are still a rat.”
Jesus said, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul.” As Lifers, lets give ourselves to the things that matter … I think we are on that track. Be patient. Isaiah 40:31