Patience

When I was a kid - I don’t know, ten or something - I was family bound to a cottage in Northern Ontario for a day. The cottage was on a lake and I was apparently into fishing at the time. I sat myself down on a rock on the shoreline and began fishing. The memory is hazy. I don’t quite remember if I’d been told about an elusive pike just off shore or if by process of sitting there and getting strike upon strike on my line I’d created the mythology myself. There was, however, this pike prowling the waters off shore with whom I became locked in a mortal battle. I’d snagged and lost him a dozen times. He’d claimed at least two of my lures - the tree branches above my head had claimed a third. Each time he struck, he escaped. And each time he struck, I got better at reacting to his attacks, drawing him in. I sat there all day. Alone. I sat there through a rain storm. Fish on, fish off for hours. Night was coming. My family was fixing to leave when I finally reeled him in, landed him… Didn’t have a clue what to do with him.

His face was bruised. I don’t know if fish bruise but I swear his face was bruised from where I’d dragged him over the rocks over and over again. I held him up so that someone could take a picture of us. They told me to wait while they killed and cleaned him so that I could take the fillets with me. Kill him? This worthy adversary? In my daylong battle this ultimate outcome had never even occurred to me. Nor even that there would inevitably be an outcome one way or the other.

We let him go. I let him go.

Patience is a funny thing. I’m a big believer in the notion that a every day you wish away is a day closer to your death. So I don’t wish away my days. On the other hand, I am patient. And patience, by definition, dissolves away time. Finding harmony in both philosophies is a careful balancing act.

I let a big fish go this week in order to pursue another. A big fish that’s put up a good fight and that I’ve never quite landed. With enough patience and yet without wishing away those days in between, maybe someday I’ll find myself back on that shore, back on that rock, pursuing that worthy adversary once more.

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