I am currently in Ontario, Canada. Apparently, I am in a small town. It is certainly small, and although it took some time to identify the town, I have in fact determined that there is a town here. I don’t want to discount anyone’s hometown (which is part of why I haven’t mentioned specifically where I am). I just thought I knew what a small town was, and this is smaller.
In addition, the cabin isn’t actually in this town; it is about a mile outside of it. There is one road that runs by the cabin, one two-lane highway. There are trail-less woods that I could hike through, but they are apparently having a tick problem at the moment. We have a small TV in our cabin that has a curved screen, not a flat screen. The Internet works sometimes but no one seems very concerned. I am trying to also seem not concerned. I am also trying to be not concerned. All this is just 1) setting the stage of where I am and 2) subtle or not so subtle clues that I don’t often find myself in rural fishing towns.
As you might have inferred by this point, I am not an avid fisherman. I have been here fishing for several days and have yet to touch a fish. This is not to be confused with the fact that I have gone fishing, caught fish and ate fish. I just haven’t touched one yet, nor baited my hook.
As I have attempted to fish for the last few days, and at times actually done this successfully, I have started to think a little about this whole experience. I might not have chosen the trip, but its existence has taught me a bit about mine.
- I need more quiet time. One of my favorite times of day here is heading out on the boat to wherever we are fishing for the day. The loud hum of the motor, the rush of the wind, the soft (or sometimes not so soft) rock of the boat. You can’t hear anything or anyone except the motor (unless you shout). You can feel only the wind (and occasionally a little pain in your bum from sitting on a boat). For me it is the ultimate place of meditation – almost a place of meditation for newbies – like being in a sensory deprivation chamber but less scary sounding and on water in the middle of a vast lake full of islands, greenery, and wildlife. Between the movement of the boat, the wind in my face, and the hum in my ears, I just have to close my eyes to completely tune out from the world. Although I might not be able to be on a boat everyday, I know that I do need more of this in my life.
- I really love people and cities. Although I love nature in doses, I am not sure it’s my place. I love interacting, meeting new people, talking about new ideas, and just being around humans. As much as I love my motor meditations and have had some fabulous ideas during them that I will bring back with me, it just isn’t a place I want to be for an extended period of time. One day we went up to a larger city about an hour away and it felt like I had escaped to a place I could be myself. For some people, that place is to go to the middle of nowhere. For me, I feel at home in the middle of somewhere. In the middle of a city full of beating human hearts.
- The circle of life. My first day out, I wondered whether I would be able to eat the fish. It is weird to see something living and imagine it dead. The fish being gross has nothing to do with why I won’t touch them. Everyone seems to think that me not wanting to touch the fish or the minnows has to do with the fact that they are slimy or gross. That isn’t why. I can’t touch the minnows because I would feel bad putting the hook into them. I can’t touch the fish because I feel bad that I put the hook in them. The whole fishing thing has just been so strange to experience. On the boat, I am totally jumpy. I don’t like seeing the bait. I hate the idea that I am using it to catch another fish. I feel immediately bad and scared at the same time when I catch a fish. But, fishing is darn fun in some ways: the random rewards schedule, the friendly competition of catching the biggest fish, the group motivation to get enough fish to eat for the day, the communal nature of everyone helping everyone else net the fish and bait the hooks, the uncertainty of being out in the middle of a huge lake, and I am sure many more things. Moreover, I know it makes everyone happy when the rookie catches a fish, so I want to! In the end, I didn’t choose fishing, I chose the people I am fishing with. So, the circle of life, I kind of realized – it is life. The other day on the boat I asked the universe to only let me catch fish that are ready to be caught. Is that what I am catching? Who knows. Do I believe it? I kind of have to.
So, why the heck am I talking all about this? Although fishing isn’t about to become my new hobby, I still learned some important things about life and myself.
I love the meditative qualities of getting away.
I also love the city and that’s ok.
I feel empathy for the fish.
I also believe in the circle of life and that’s ok.
Long story short, I was reminded of the all-important lesson that trusting my gut is ok. I am allowed to feel bad for the fish and to catch them. I am allowed to take the parts of nature and middle-of-nowhere-ness that I love and leave the rest. I am allowed to love cities and being surrounded by people and the things they have created. I am allowed to miss interacting with strangers – even just a comedic barista. I am allowed to miss checking Instagram and Internet fast enough to load peoples’ Instagram stories. I am allowed to want to feel connected to the world. I don’t have to feel any particular way about anything or any place. Most importantly, I should never feel bad for feeling what I feel.