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Fishing For Mental Health

by: Lloyd Tackitt 8/6/2014

I drive 3 hours every day, and while I am best described as the type of libertarian that believes in the philosophy of if you leave me alone I'll leave you alone, I listen to NPR most of the time.  I do sometimes shake my head at their bias, but mostly I like intelligent talk radio with very few commercials and that station fits the bill pretty well.  They are doing a series right now on play and its benefits.  Which I will relate to fishing in a moment.

They talked about how children need unstructured play with other children in order to learn the skills of negotiation, socialization etc.  Scientists are re-discovering what our grandparents, and even parents for people of my age, knew already.  Then they moved on to the need for play for adults.  It fulfills a different need from brain development.  But the aspect they talk about are for people that live in crowded cities.  At least so far.  They say that adults need to play with other adults in order to regenerate a love for life.

I live far from the crowds, so that sort of play doesn't apply to me.  It didn't apply to me when I did live in the city either.  There are I think more people that don't want to be in a crowd than there are that do want to be in a crowd.  Otherwise every park would be shoulder to shoulder people all the time.  And they aren't. 

I think most people are like me.  Family, a few close friends, a handful of work acquaintances, are enough for me.  But I do need to play, and I need to do it often.  And that is where fishing comes in.  Fishing is my play. 

The cool thing about fishing that I don't think applies to very many other play activities is that fishing lends itself equally well to being a solitary activity and a social activity.  I love to fish alone and equally love to fish with others - those others being a fairly limited number of people because I need only a fairly limited number of people in my life.  I am always very hesitant to fish with a total stranger, but never hesitate to fish with someone I already know and like.

They are completely different experiences even though they revolve around the exact same activity.  When I fish alone I am never lonely, solitude is a blessing in and of itself.  When I fish with someone else I'd rather see them catch a fish than to catch one myself.  I get more pleasure out of watching the pleasure a friend has than the pleasure I get from a catch.  It's kind of a paradox, but there it is.  I suspect it is like that for most people.  When I fish with friends I feel no competition or need to out-do the other at all.  Just the opposite in fact.

And both are still equally rewarding.  Both are play, relaxing, just plain fun.  Fun (looks like a Chinese word, doesn't it?) is what I think is at the root of happiness in life.  When life stops being fun, and there are definitely times when that happens to all of us, life turns into pain instead.  I am allergic to pain.  I don't like it in any shape form or fashion.  Fishing is fun.  Fishing alone is fun, fishing with friends if fun.

And sometimes it can be a really wonderfully guilty kind of fun.  Sometimes, not often but sometimes, I'll call in sick or take an unscheduled day of vacation when I really need to be at work getting some project under control, and I'll go fishing instead.  Like my Dad used to say - "A stolen watermelon is twice as sweet as an honest one." 

Dad had fun in his life.  It's a good thing to emulate.  And I do it pretty damn well myself. 

Blog content © Lloyd Tackitt
Member comments
oley, CO   8/6/2014 8:17:47 PM
I've got to hand it to you Lloyd. If you and I were ever able to fish, I wonder if anyone would ever fish, When I go fishing with someone else, it allows me to relax and observe the other person fishing. That gives me the kind of satisfaction that fishing alone only gives me. Similar to you like you say. Always waiting on the other person to wet a line might be interesting - like a duel between two guys in white hats. Yet I could never steal a day at work. Always thought about the other folks and the increased pressure it would put on them. Everybody's got to have some fault(s) with them and that was one of mine...
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), TX   8/6/2014 9:00:17 PM
Well Oley, I've never stolen a watermelon in spite of my Dad's advice. But I have stolen off from work a few times. I do this mental exercise where I imagine I'm in an airplane at 30,000 feet and the engines shut down, I have 3 minutes to live and I know it. The exercise is to figure out what I would regret about my life. I can tell you for a fact that I would not regret having spent too little time at work. rather I would regret having spent too much time at it and not enough time fishing or with my loved ones. So...I try to make sure that I won't have any more regrets that I absolutely have to in those last minutes whenever it is that they really do come. I may regret never having stolen a watermelon though...
oley, CO   8/7/2014 5:33:51 PM
I have 'borrowed' a watermelon or two as a kid growing up in southern Georgia. And it was sweeeeetttt. A little warmer than I like 'em but tasty nonetheless. The key to three minutes to live is to regret nothing because at that point, it's kind of hard to regret anything. It's time to reflect on the positive things in life and what I/we accomplished and smile a little. Life will go on after we go just as it has before we came. Regret nothing as it is water under the bridge already and the key to letting go with a smile on your face.
Dave Mauldin, TX   8/7/2014 9:54:13 PM
..having grown up in west Texas, I stole a few watermelons in my life...not proud of it, and would no t do it again, but don't feel too bad about it...don't remember how they tasted. ...totally agree with you regarding your attitude on fishing alone or with someone else.. Thanks for this Lloyd, Dave
Lloyd Tackitt
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