“Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
~Henry David Thoreau
Belief, for some, is an abstract concept. Belief, for me, takes the form of a fish. One summer, eighteen years ago, my father took me to the Modesto River outside of Fresno, where we were living, to fish for the very first time. As a child, fishing was a vague concept and I did not know what to expect. Would the fish be large? Would it be slimy? Would it bite off my finger? My father reassured me that fishing would be fun and catching a fish even better. Later, I remember catching my first fish. I remember wheezing. I remember screaming. I remember jumping and maybe even wetting myself a bit. But from that moment on, I believed. Looking back, it wasn’t about the fish or even the fishing experience. It was the trust, adoration, and belief in my father that pushed me to try fishing. Believing was putting my faith in the unknown simply because of my unshakeable trust in the known. Because I believed in my father, I came to believe in fishing. Belief, for me, came to take the form of a fish.
Through the years, my belief in fishing has grown even as I have grown. It may be odd for a young woman to enjoy fishing but it doesn’t matter what others believe, as long as I believe. To escape the dreariness of school, I sometimes sit and daydream of the stillness of a gray lake, the open sky reflected in shimmery detail upon its surface. In its depths, I dream that a monster largemouth bass sleeps. Its giant jaws awaiting my magical spinner bait. Exhausted at night, I sometimes dream of some backwoods creek, twinkling through the hills. There I stand in my waders (youth size of course, adult size has always been too large), water up to my hips, crystal pool before me. In that pool, swims a brook trout the size of a log, its silver side sparkling, begging for my fly. In the summers, I am often found down some overgrown riverside path with rod in hand. By the riverside, I am set free from responsibilities and my rod is my key to possibility. However, it never matters to me whether I catch anything. What matters is the thrill of the chase for that unknown possibility. It is the chance to snatch that illusive monster fish, the embodiment of possibility, that keeps me drawn to the water’s edge. I’ve never seen that monster fish, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Somewhere, somehow, someway, if I just keep fishing, that fish will surface. This I believe. Belief for me, takes the form of a fish.
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