On a recent fishing trip with Captain Bob Jones as part of the Ladies, Let's Go Fishing weekend, I had a lot of time to meditate on our way out to his fishing spot and back to port -- approximately one hour each way in the prevailing wind and sea conditions. I couldn't get over how ridiculously happy I was, my heart swelling with every passing wave on this incredibly empowering feeling that I had "arrived."
I hesitate to sound dramatic, but there's a reason why I'm into this whole fishing thing -- it's something close to my heart. Fishing out in these waters with good folk was a life-altering experience for me, or perhaps, more appropriately, a return to something I had known and loved but had neglected for way too long. This trumped everything before it and made me seriously question where I am focusing my energy in my life right now.
While the wind was buffeting my face, I didn't give a damn. My heart was open and fully present. The water, ironically, was grounding. It was only three years ago I was stuck at home overcoming agoraphobia and here I was out in the wide expanse of bay with not a shred of anxiety or fear in my body. My soul was soaring. I loved every second of it.
Remember, agoraphobia is fear of being outdoors. For a long while, I couldn't even be in a car, let alone drive one. A sea craft was out of the question. And here I was, happily, enthusiastically and eagerly embracing the outdoors.
Life flashed by in my mind, but in a good way.
I remembered the treble hook caught in my finger when fishing with a hand line under a bridge on Key Biscayne at the tender age of five. Years later, as an adult during my galley wench days, sailing on Biscayne Bay with friends. The countless fishing trips to the Glades. The first and only tarpon I ever caught in Flamingo one glorious morning at sunrise. Gliding a canoe over a 16 foot alligator in a mangrove tunnel. Fishing for sea bass in northern Spain with a blind date with whom I would never fall in love. Gratitude that my last boyfriend broke up with me, as he would have never understood and supported this lifestyle -- he religiously got manicures, can you imagine him handling a slimy fish?
And the heartbreak I felt when an old ex took another woman fishing -- of course it bothered me that he slept with her, but taking her fishing? That was the ultimate betrayal and a deal breaker for me.
And yet I am forever grateful to him. He introduced me to this world.
Our love may have not become a marriage after so many years, but the experience of a man and a woman fishing together time and time again is almost as intimate as sex and practically as sacred as tantra. You're out there, being patient with yourselves, with each other and the task at hand. You share spaces and golden silences. You don't need to talk because you both love what you're doing and you're doing it together. (The "no yelling" part of Ladies, Let's Go Fishing is so funny to me in this respect.)
Nothing out here but water and mangrove islands. Gets you thinking. It's liberating.
Maybe it's the kind of fishing I love to do -- inshore, which requires predatory stealth sometimes, an eagle eye and quiet focus. There's an inner warrior, meditative quality to this style of fishing, which I can relate to as a yogi. It's almost as if I'm on the mat, connecting my mind, body and soul in an activity that I love.
There's something about fishing in remote inshore waters that puts me in touch with a part of myself that gets easily distracted by life in urban Miami -- too much going on all the time. Not that there's anything wrong with everything that the city has to offer. But for me, fishing out in the back country brings me back to my core self, where things are simple and real. That's really what my heart desires: simple and real.
And yet there is always the mystery of what lies underwater, the primordial contact between human and beast, the wonder and excitement of what might bite, the gear, the technique and the strategy. Fishing is simple and yet never boring in that way.
Since I've experienced this great weekend with Ladies, Let's Go Fishing, some of my gal pals have asked me: "I don't get it. What the hell do you like about fishing? That's so weird to me. I'd rather be shoe shopping."
Well, I love me a pair of fancy shoes just like the next gal, but on most days, honestly, I'd rather wear flip flops. Fishing is something you either love whole-heartedly with every fiber of your being, or you don't. You can't fake it. It's too much work and effort to fake it.
Actually, just like sex and intimacy, you shouldn't be faking anything at all. When I'm fishing, I feel I'm truly authentically myself. That's why I love it, because it reels in my true heart, it brings me in contact with nature, my nature, which can be wild yet calm and yearns for this kind of grounding. There is the inner wilderness we see with our hearts and the one we see with our eyes -- trees, birds, water and fish. When you fish, it call comes together. At least for me.
There is so much more to fishing than meets the eye. And that's why I title this post Happiness Is Light Tackle ... it's about following your passion, but catching it without too much baggage, not too much heavy line, weighty hooks and sinkers. Tossing out overboard whatever no longer serves you and being authentic. It's about seeing it ahead of you and casting for it and seizing whatever aligns your personal happiness with your purpose.
For me, fishing isn't just about the fish, but a completely spiritual and yet visceral exercise.
As I prepare for an event I'm organizing called HeartCamp, it doesn't surprise me at all that I had a major heart-opening over the weekend regarding my long lost love: fishing.
Fishing is a metaphor for life here. What are you doing in your life to cast forward? Are you catching your dreams? Are you following the currents of your heart? Have you checked in with the inner wilderness, far from the distractions of daily life?