Fishing: A Perpetual Series of Occasions for Hope


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The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.
John Buchan

Early this morning, at the crack of dawn, two brothers borrowed our kayak and paddled offshore to place their net below the shallow waters of Lake Cocibolca. Within five minutes, they hauled up a huge fish, similar to a Sea Bass. It is the chicken of the sweet sea, a type of Guapote, with enough meat to feed a large family.

Fishing on Lake Cocibolca is not a sport: fishing sustains life here. Julio and Jose are among the many young men on the island in pursuit of what is elusive, but attainable. Fishing is hope…hope that they can feed their families…hope that they can haul in a big catch…hope that they can make life a little better for their families.

Fishing gives them daily opportunities to pursue what is attainable, because there are many things that are out of reach for the poor in Nicaragua…a college education…a secure job…quality health care..comfortable housing….to name a few.

Yet, because their needs are simple, they have no hopes and dreams for the unattainable. They happily fish through life with a sense of realism that astounds me. They are satisfied with what they have,and live without expectations for the unreachable. Therefore, they have few disappointments in life. A great day is one big, fat Guapote, or a net full of smaller, bony fish.

I wonder about this simple philosophy of life. Is it better to have a perpetual series of occasions for hope, than hope for that which is unlikely to occur? I think of the times I bought lottery tickets hoping that I would win the Powerball. Even winning a dollar on a lottery ticket was a disappointment to me. I was hoping for the unattainable.Now, it seems like such a waste of energy and worry.

What I have learned from watching Jose and Julio fish in the calm waters of our sweet sea, is that hope and reality are brothers in life. It’s like taking baby steps…one little step at a time…leading to the big catch. It involves taking a realistic view of one’s life, pursuing those elusive, but attainable Guapote, and having a perpetual series of occasions for hope.