I’m not a fisherman. It wasn’t anything we did as a family or that I did growing up. I lived next to a river, however, and every now and then I would see a fisherman or two with their cane poles or fancy rod and reel, maybe with a packed lunch and a blanket to sit on. One or two might stand and cast. Others might be content to sit on the bank and catch a nap as well as a fish or two.
I remember back in high school about a hundred years ago reading two stories that I remember vividly. Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway is a story about a battle of wills and skills. Santiago went 84 days without catching anything, but on the 85th day, he sets out and catches a marlin. The guy struggles for two days and two nights to land the fish. On the third day, exhausted, worn out and near delirium, he harpoons the fish, straps it to his boat and heads home. Unfortunately for him, sharks feed on it and by the time he got to shore, it was a mere skeleton. Talk about a bummer! In Moby Dick by Melville, Captain Ahab wants to kill the white whale that in a previous encounter ruined his boat and bit off his leg. Ahab wants to exact revenge, but it costs him his life and that of his crew. Yup, another bummer!
I think the two stories are similar in that the central characters struggle continuously and don’t give in and don’t give up. It costs them dearly: physically and emotionally. There is something to be said about keeping up the good fight, to keep trying, to not quitting. But at some point, a realization needs to set in and cause questions to be asked, “Is it worth it?” and perhaps “At what cost . . .?”
There are marlins in our own lives, white whales that we chase. Sometimes for the pursuit of it, sometimes out of revenge. They are personal. We can rationalize about them and find some sort of justification for them. They are near and dear to us. We pursue them vigorously. Yet in the end, they are as elusive as the marlin or as the white whale. Perhaps, just as destructive. At some point, it might be necessary to cut bait and move on. Our lives, our health might be better for it. The lives or health of those around us might be better for it. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!