2020, it’ll go down in history as the year everyone winces or rolls their eyes at the mention of. But aside from everything out of my control, 2020 was the year for me to regain control. I found myself living by a couple statements. Living according to a couple statements. Three to be exact.
No. 1. Hope is at the end of every cast. It’s an old one. I’ve been using it for years, it’s nothing new. But this year I gained more understanding of a phrase I coined myself and used to coin countless books over the years. You can hope for a lot of things. But hoping for a fish at the end of a cast is something completely on its own. It’s what I always thought it was, but then it’s a lot more when I analyze it. It’s why we go fishing. It’s the one action that’s for no other reason than hope. Even if you pass through a stretch of water that you’ve passed a hundred times and never caught a fish, never even seen a fish, you might still make at least one cast…hoping that this time is different. Hope truly is at the end of every cast and this year I had a lot of hope. Somedays it ended in what I wanted, others it ended in more hope. Hope that the next time I’d actually catch something. Enough hope to keep me going back out. I found a lot of hope in 2020 that I’d lost a couple years ago. Turns out it was right where I’d left it.
No.2. I wasn’t born to pay bills and die. It’s something I’ve known for a long time now, but this year it became almost a battle cry for me. First thing this spring I bought a kayak. An expensive kayak. The idea of spending money on fishing gear for me is an easy idea. But actually coming up with that money and then actually spending it is a whole other thing for me. It was scary hitting the “complete purchase” button. But after the fact, after using it all year, I know it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I almost spent that money on a bed. That would’ve been a dumb decision. I’m still sleeping fine on the couch, but without buying that kayak I’d have never seen three-quarters of the water I chose to see this past year. Make wise decisions. Not smart…wise.
I have a job. I have bills. But it makes absolutely no sense to me to only work and pay bills, or to work all year and only take off a couple days over three-hundred and sixty-five of them. I’m given Vacation days. I’m given personal days. I’m given sick days. They’re my days. Mine. And I’m using them. Otherwise, what’s the point of any of it? To go to work, to pay off a house or a car, and to die? None of what we have is natural for humans. Humans created everything we think we need to live. But we didn’t need any of it before we had it. The proof? Well, we made it past that point to the point where we’re all slaves to it all now. If we actually needed all this stuff, the human race would’ve died out long before ever getting to invent it. And now… most of us wouldn’t be able to survive without it. There has to be more. And for me, more is less.
The point is not to just pay bills and die! Not my point anyway. I’ve figured out I don’t need much more than a roof over my head, a car to get me around, and a refrigerator to keep my food. Beyond that, the less I need, the less I need to work. And the more time I have to live. If I need all this fancy stuff to live then I have to work extra hours to pay for it, taking the time away from using it! I wasn’t born to pay bills and die, so if it’s going to add another bill…I don’t need it. I was born to live and die. Not pay bills and die.
And No. 3. Someone has to do the fishing. A coworker said it to me in jest before spring had even sprung, finding out that I was taking off yet another day to go fishing and knowing that I didn’t feel guilty in the least for using up more time at work to do it. As soon as he said it, it became mine. And I lived by it this year. Wore it on my sleeve for everyone to see. Proud that I was doing it, admitting it to everyone that I myself was my top priority, and not attempting to hide it. Hoping maybe others would follow suit. At Least four times this year I got messages through social media from people I’d never met telling me they were taking a day off to go fishing because of the message I was trying so hard to pass on.
My suggestion…Find something you believe in, and believe in it one-hundred and ten percent. If you don’t shape your life around it, then do you really believe in it? Or is it just a nice idea to you. A nice idea and a belief are two different things. One you sit around and think about, the other you live. I’ve chosen the latter. Which one do you choose?
Mark Usyk is the author of Reflections of a Fly Rod and Carp Are Jerks. Both are available on Amazon in both paperback and e-book, and signed copies are ready for purchase here on this site… jprossflyrods.com.
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