Fish long enough and you’ll find yourself angling less for fish than for moments of grace on the water. Suddenly everything changes. You release your fish, stringing your memories together instead.
In The Compleat Angler, Izaak Walton describes such a moment – “I was for that time lifted above earth, and possess’d joys not promised in my birth.” His poetic style may be a bit rich for contemporary readers, but The Compleat Angler is one of the most reprinted books in the English language because Walton speaks to a primal human longing.
The great writer and angler Thomas McGuane tells us that The Compleat Angler has less to do with how to fish than how to live. Walton tells us “how watchfulness and awe can be taken within from the natural world,” making his book a “handbook for those who would overcome their alienation from nature.”
Our lives have become unmoored from nature. Most of us live with little sunlight, fresh air and exercise. We’ve lost sight of the natural world – our windows on daily life are screens that gaze into a digital universe. You don’t have to be a tech-hating Luddite to recognize our growing physical and spiritual alienation from nature.
McGuane again – “it is not given to every soul pinning for the natural world to be a naturalist,” most of us require a game to play whether angling, sailing, hiking or bird watching. The games we love let us recreate ourselves by experiencing moments when we are fully alive.
Sharing stories of such moments comes naturally to people who love the water. Whether in celebrated literary works or in a friend’s inspired smartphone media wizardry or around a fire on the beach…we love to relive memories of life on the water. To kick things off, here’s one of ours.
Go ahead…take a moment.
Sources for this Moment
The Compleat Angler
The Contemplative Man’s Recreation