This past year, as some of you may know, I have taken up fishing. What I mean by this, is that every once in a while, I wade around in some water with my fishing pole. I tangle and untangle my line. I watch the light on the water. I snag lures on branches and rocks. I imagine that somewhere in that vastness of water is a fish who will find my tiny little line with its randomly-chosen lure and will bite. So I fish. But I have not actually caught a fish. Up until recently, I didn’t really care. I was in the “labor and relinquish the fruits of your labors” school of fishing. I was Process Oriented. See, fishing itself is pretty nice, regardless of the results. I spent summer afternoons with my feet in a cool creek and my dog on the shore, and an exhilarating, rainy hour this fall fishing Pinks in the Snoqualmie — the water churning with the power of the fish, and my line out there among them! These have been days of surging unity and rightness with the world, though I went home fishless, and often lureless, having excelled mostly at catching rocks.
But you know what I realized recently? I WANT TO CATCH A FISH.
It comes down to this: fishing, like most activities in life, is unavoidably metaphorical. And I have been living the same way I fish. Querying agents without any true internal expectation they would pick up my book. Loving people without expecting they would love me and meet me and choose me as fully as I truly need. ENOUGH! I WANT SOME RESULTS! Sure, there have been some blissy days and good adventures and moments — more than moments — of growth and epiphany. The process is good, and if I only focused on specific results it could have ruined a lot of nice days. However, I actually do want to publish Good Like the Sea, and I do want live love in a real, growing partnership. I also, quite literally, want to catch a fish.
To catch a fish, I need to do a few things:
1. Go fishing with someone who knows what they are doing. (Anyone, anyone?)
2. Learn more about where fish are, what they bite, etc.
3. Go fishing places there are actually fish.
4. Buy some more lures, since the only one I have left is this weird pink one I found on the river bar.
This last one is big. I struggle sometimes to imagine that in all that expanse of water, a fish will really bite my hook. My friend Charlie says you have to imagine that your hook is enormous and unavoidable. It helps, too I think, to believe in the existence of fish.
Then there’s the question of what would I do if I actually caught one? If I really, truly caught a fish. I’d have to reel it in without losing it. I’d have to figure out if it was a kind I was allowed to keep. If it was, I’d have to somehow kill it, and the only methods of killing animals I have tried (slapping, stomping, trapping, hitting with a car) work fine for mosquitoes, snails, rats, and possums, but don’t seem quite right for fish. I guess I’d use a knife or a rock, or worst just let it drown in the air, like 90% of the rest of us adults. It’s an exhilarating terror of possibility, but I want it. Anyhow, I do know to clean a fish and yes David James Duncan, I promise I would cook it in butter.