4 LESSONS FROM 4 AM

My first exposure to sleep deprivation came as a young boy.  Whenever my dad told me we were going fishing the next day, it was game on.  I would toss and turn for hours just imagining the fish I would catch.  I couldn’t wait until my dad’s alarm clock would sound its awful screech at 4:00am.  Those nights stirred my mind far greater than Christmas Eve ever did.  To this day, I would chose nature over Santa.  Sadly, I’m about 15 years removed since I last snagged a native rainbow from a mountain stream.  Now that I’m raising kids of my own, maybe it’s a good thing that there are no trout waters within a day’s trip.  My family might wonder if I had gone missing.

Listed below are 4 of the many fishing lessons that have “stuck” with me through the years.  I think these can easily be applied to mastering the craft of your choice.

First, FISHERMEN ARE THE FISH.  Look at any tackle box, there is often more tackle than there are fish!  Put a fisherman in a bait shop and all of a sudden he discovers that he needs an assortment for every variety.  Will the red lure satisfy?  Nope, he needs the yellow, blue, silver, black, green, purple, neon, rainbow, small, medium, and large version of each.

THE CHALLENGE:  Take a step back.  Master what you have.  Can you make a masterpiece with a limited pallet?  Maybe 3 colors instead of 30?  Can you craft something with hand tools instead of power tools?  Can you use scraps, leftovers, or second hand?  Can you make a hit song with one or two instruments, or limited chords?  In other words, look at your “tackle box” and tell yourself you won’t stop until you catch a record size fish on a “rubber worm” the most basic of all lures.  After all, it can – and has been done.

Second, HOOKS DON’T JUST HOOK FISH.  My wife recently called with elevated distress in her voice.  She informed me that one of the kids had a fishing hook wedged in the knee and that she couldn’t get it out.  No problem, I thought, this guy – yours truly, has lots of experience.  My brother once buried a size 6 hook in my scalp and a short time later his friend wrapped one around my eyelid.  Whether in a tree limb above, a muddy boot below, or a puncture to the flesh, no fishing trip is ever complete without some type of snag.  Hooks are designed to hook, and they don’t discriminate.

THE CHALLENGE:  Are there some pricks in your life worth avoiding?  What about the hooks that can’t be avoided?  Can you use additional caution while handling?  Anyone who gets hooked knows that it hastily puts a halt to your plans.  When it comes to your craft, your habits, your mental and physical health, etc. identify the hooks and then stay on guard.  Remember, hooks hook, and they don’t feel good.

Third, there is a difference between an “angler” and a “fisherman.”  Anglers catch more fish because they understand – you guessed it – angles.  They use principles of geometry to cast with far less effort.  They use geometry to set the hook and fight the fish while maintaining a good hook to mouth purchase.  They also use angles that are far less geometric and much more strategic such as sight fishing, matching the hatch, weather conditions, spawning cycles, GPS and fish locaters.

THE CHALLENGE:  What angle can you more efficiently employ to master your craft?  Without a doubt, there is something in your process that is causing you to take the “long way” home.  Find the best ways to increase efficiency.  The more time you save, the more time you have to practice.    I repeat, good angles cut costs and save time – be an angler!

Finally, consider the following quote:  “Fisherman, take your cue from the great blue heron, which makes its living as a fisherman.  Do herons strut about with wings flapping?  Do they splash with Zeal as they hunt for a meal?  No, they slowly tiptoe to the streams edge, blending into the background while they carefully scan the water at their feet.  When they move to another spot, it’s invariably upstream.  Each step is cautious and deliberate, causing barely ripple.”

Heron’s don’t keep their bellies full by being anything short of deliberate.  Big fish don’t get big by being careless.  Can you catch fish while being loud and obnoxious?  Sure.  But the smartest of the bunch, the most adept at survival (and nature always produces a few) will find somewhere else to feed, especially with a species as easily spooked as trout.

THE CHALLENGE:  How can you be more deliberate like the heron?  Novelist Stephen King advises that writers put their desk in the corner of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art; it’s the other way around.  Examine the most accomplished people in the field or craft that you wish to master.  What are they doing that you don’t?  How is their focus different than yours?  Do they fish like a casual fisherman, are they an angler, or are they next level like a heron?  Forget the tackle in your box, the bait you should be focused on are the clues left behind by the masters.

BEAR-LY OVERWEIGHT

America has a favorite “F” word and it’s not the one you’re thinking. Are you ready? Brace yourself….

FAT…yeah I said it – FAT!

Does that make you uncomfortable? If so, maybe it’s because you are indeed
{F} {A} {T}

Sorry, should I tone it down a bit with some other “F” words? Perhaps you prefer the term “frumpy” or “fluffy” or that you only have a “few” extra pounds to lose. Whatever word you prefer that starts with the “ffff” sound, please don’t get o”ffff”ended.  Don’t stomp away. – I’m here to help!

First of all, fat isn’t all that bad. In some countries fat is a direct reflection of your wealth.  In other circumstances, you may need it to stay alive. Check out the amazing books Disturbed in Their Nests or 438 Days to feel what I’m talking about. A careful read of these titles might make you want an extra inch to pinch.

But let’s be real here, your mind is made up and you’ve decided (i.e. brainwashed) that fat is the enemy. You want it gone, and that’s why you are still reading. Well, you’ve come to the right spot. I have an answer for you, if not THE answer – the best part is, it won’t cost you a dime!

I offer you something else to read, MOTHER NATURE. What do bears do in the spring and summer? They eat their fill. Every day is a Thanksgiving feast. No holding back. Always room for seconds. Always on the prowl for that next batch of honey, patch of berries, or migrating salmon. Fat is followed by feasting.

brown bear shallow focus photography
Photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels.com

Now, what do bears do in the winter? They knock out. They sleep, and sleep, and sleep some more…for a very long time. No alarm clocks and no midnight snacks. When they finally wake up and stumble out of slumber they do so with a new look. If they were human they would be ready to pop on a bikini, tie on some heals, and pucker up with some lipstick ready to strut the fashion runway.

The bear didn’t have to take dieting pills. Nor did it have to experiment with the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Vegan Diet, Ketogenic Diet, Paleo Diet, Zone Diet, Dukan Diet, 5:2 Diet or any other diet.  A bear doesn’t wear a fitness tracker to study analytics. A bear doesn’t read the latest trends in the newsstands. A bear doesn’t have a vision board or a Pinterest board of all the other “sexy bears.”

A bear eats a lot and a bear eats a little. Feast and famine. One yields one result while the other yields the opposite.

THE CHALLENGE: If you want to be “unfat” just follow the laws of nature.  I’m not suggesting you starve yourself, but there are lessons to be learned from observing the mighty bear. Eat less! Stop making it complex! “Oh, but if I eat less my metabolism will slow down and then I’ll blow up like a balloon.” Cool, keep being fat. But for the rest of us, remain diligent. Don’t overthink it. Nature’s laws work the same whether on the Serengeti or in the depths of the ocean. Those same laws work in my kitchen and belly just as they will work in yours.  The law of the harvest always wins.

WINGS N’ THINGS

Long before the internet, there was this place called the library. If you wanted to gather information in a systematic fashion what would you use?  Google?  Nope!  Enter the prehistoric search engine, the Dewey Decimal System (Thank you Melvil, but I digress, a lot).

Going to the library was a must for me. I recall maxing out the 10 book limit on a regular basis.  My stack of books always came out of the “nature” genre, usually insects.

I was fascinated with bugs.  If I wasn’t reading about them, I was collecting specimens.  If I wasn’t collecting them, I was “conquering” them…usually with the bottom of my foot…or a magnifying glass (and a few other creative ways not worth mentioning – don’t judge – I was a boy).  Maybe that’s why my answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” (An entomologist) never came to fruition.  (But I digress, again)

Have you ever noticed that ants take to the air for an opportunity to mate every time a summer heat wave strikes? After the “magic” happens, what next?  The male dies and the female abandons her wings.  What?!  What is wrong with Mother Nature?  Shouldn’t a new momma ant make herself as mobile as possible?  You know, explore the town, find the best neighborhood, maybe do a little shopping and perhaps raid a picnic?  Instead, she’s 100% committed.  She picks her nesting site and goes to work, never stopping until she dies.

THE CHALLENGE: Stop flying around.  You know what you want to be when you “grow up” right?  So do it.  Chew your wings off!  Dig in!  Do your thing!  Get to work and don’t stop.  The formula is that simple.  I already know that 99.9% of you reading this are going to look your wings in the mirror and tell yourself how you can’t live without them, and that you can’t lose them, at least not yet.  It’s a lie.  Don’t listen.

How to Break Bread

A bird landed in my backyard and started to peck at a stale chunk of bread. Can’t blame him – he was hungry. Then, out of nowhere another bird swooped in and snatched the morsel from its beak and flew away.

bird

I often hear the term “break bread” as it refers to social interaction. “Hey, let’s go break some bread.” In other words, it’s time for us to hang out. Hanging out with people takes precious time – herein lies the lesson.

Spending time with friends is great. But how often do we get “spammed“? How many social interactions do you engage in that are a mile wide, yet paper thin?  How often do you let others take you hostage with shallow conversations?

In an attempt to leave work on time today I got stopped by several individuals, one after the other, in sequence. I lost almost an hour of my day. Nothing that was said was truly relevant. Nothing was urgent and all of it could have waited for tomorrow. I allowed them to steal my bread and fly away.

THE CHALLENGE: When someone spams you – when they approach you like a pop-up ad – remember, you have the option to hit the “skip advertisement” button. Guard your bread!

Photo by Tom Lee