One of my dear friends wrote this for me – and I am at a loss for words at this crazy time in my life – so I share her words with you. She once wrote an article called a Matter of Miles – I always wanted to use that title. So, when I land in India I will borrow steal that title from her. I have never asked her if this is okay – but I know she won’t mind – she always forgives my indiscretions. She takes me as I am and she is one of the many reasons I am finding it very hard to get out the door. But in the meantime, we are busy getting busy to get out the door. I will write again soon – hopefully with good news of cats and luggage. Until then, I am going fishing…..
My son really wants to go fishing. My husband, who is not a fisherman, agrees to take him. It is one of those fatherly duties. All week long, they prepare for the early morning outing.
“What should we pack?” asks my son, curious and excited.
“Um…two fishing poles, fishing line, and bait,” my husband answers, in a rather uncertain manner.
“Just two poles. I think we should take ten.”
“Ten is way too many. I don’t know much about fishing, but I think it is better to catch one or two great fish then to catch a school of scrawny fish. We should go for quality, not quantity.”
“But more is better, right?”
More is not always better when it comes to many things that happen in life. For the most important things that happen to us, more is almost never the best option. This is never more true than with friendships. At different points in our lives, we “fish” with different goals and different results.
In preschool, it takes great bravery to even put out one line, and we hold our breath to see if anyone will bite. When a tiny counterpart takes the bite, she is our friend for life. (“Let’s hold hands all the time.”)
In elementary school, our pond grows. We may throw out three or four lines and get good fish with each attempt. (“Let’s have a sleepover this weekend.”)
In high school, we go for the scrawny fish. It is the more the merrier, quantity over quality. We put out as many lines as we can and reel in all that bite. (“Let’s have a party this weekend. We are so popular!”)
In college, we take many of those lines from high school out of the water. It is more about finding out, and fishing for, those who work best with us. Selection is the key here. If you catch something that doesn’t work, you throw it back in the water. Something about living on your own makes you want to find those you will support you and help nurture your spirit. (“Will you help me study for the test? I’ll meet you at the library.”)
In adulthood, in the real world, many things interfere with our ability to fish at all. Old lines that we may have kept in the water since high school start to weaken and may eventually break. Time to launch new lines is hard to find. Sometimes we take stock; we look at the lines that remain, those that have withstood the tumultuous weather or the dangers in the sea that have tried to severe them. We see what we have left, what has never left us, and what hangs on in good times and in bad times. Those fish were meant to be lifelong, and one thing is always true of these fish: they are never many. They are always few. These fish are as strong as the lines that hold them.
One of my fish heads for India this week. She is taking the daring swim across the ocean for the adventure of her life. I need to give her lots of line so that she can reach her destination. Her line has been a constant for me. It is the most dependable line I have, so I am not worried about it breaking. Watch out Atlantic Ocean. This line’s made of steel.