It’s Sunday. It’s warm. I have both dogs sitting next to me in the garden. Upstairs, Mili is sound asleep where she will probably remain until midday and Andrew is in bed sending me ridiculous photos via whatsapp. Mornings like this are a rare treat at the moment and as such are treasured without measure.
I’m still not certain of Archie’s future with us. Until we are fully settled, financially especially, there is still this shadow looming over our heads that at some point, very soon, we may have to let another family share the absolute joy he brings to life.
Sunday’s are fantastic aren’t they? A day of doing nothing yet actually living. We spend so much time worrying, working, fixing and repairing that we forget to take time to appreciate the small things that really matter. Life is so noisy yet we often fail to really hear things. This morning there are children playing in gardens, birds chirping, occasional bursts of traffic rolling up from the forest road. Today I choose to ignore the sound of the gate squeaking in the wind. It’s not my gate, for a start, but it is a job Andy will need to address. Not today though. Today is about forgetting everything, enjoying each other. Taking stock of what you have, not what you lack. I don’t have everything I want, I probably don’t have everything I need, but I do have a set of things many other people are wishing for.
There is a book a friend of mine gave me after a short spell in prison – him not me – It is called The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. It’s a great book. There is a lot of focus on taking time to mediate, clearing your mind of the monkey madness. When your mind is at peace, that is when wisdom rises. If, like me, you don’t fancy crossing your legs and humming to meditate there are other ways of achieving this mindful peace.
For Andrew, and his Dad, it is fishing. My evenings and weekends are spent learning how to enjoy fishing on the TV. From Wicked Tuna and Deadliest Catch to a thousand other programs that increase my knowledge of how to catch the biggest carp whilst slowly decreasing my will to actually live.
I decided on Friday to nip down to the lake and see what all the fuss was about.
Fishing seems to be a good way to stop, sit still, free your mind of buzz whilst supplying you with a sense of anticipation and, potentially a great sense of achievement.
There is a saying, “Give a man a fish and he’ll feed himself for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” I would like to start by saying this is a very misleading quote. I have spent literally weeks on my own whilst Andy goes fishing. In that time I am only aware of 5 fish that he has actually caught. And of those five, guess how many came home for supper? None.
That is a concept I find hard to qualify. You spend three days at a lake. Catch one. Weigh it. Measure it. Take a selfie with it. Kiss it. Release it.
Still, I’m willing to give it a try. So, I head to the lake armed with food – I know how to keep these boys happy – and set off on a man hunt. I expect to find Father and Son huddled together under a tent, rods on show, laughing and chatting. A lovely relaxed buzz around them.
Instead I find two tents, not facing each other, in one is a sleeping father, in the other my boyfriend on his phone. I chose to invade the tent of my potential father in law (I am yet to be invited by Andy to claim his Dad, Stuart, as my Father in law. I’ve just got so comfortable that I’ve invited myself into this position) I enquire on the fish count. “None” he replies. It’s 2pm. They arrived here at 7am. Fishing doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of productivity.
Andrew pops in to our tent. Probably because it is so completely boring over in his. We start to discuss the plan for catching a fish instead of just staring at a lake.
I suggest we soak their balls in goo. An innocent comment and one I am certain makes sense to all of those who fish. Bait balls are a drama. There are a million different kinds. They all look the same to me. But they do not smell the same. Next to Stu is a jar of rather delicious looking nuts, you know the kind that come from posh health food shops? Only they are not to be nibbled on. They are another of the million types of bait used to lure in the fish.
A man next to us gets excited so Andy springs to action with some kind of landing net. It’s essentially a massive boring green version of those fabulously coloured things we used to use on a family beach holiday whilst paddling around in our jellies. There is much excitement, followed by a massive sigh. Our neighbour has caught an eel. This is like some kind of fishing faux pas and Andy comes back to our little fishing hide with a smug look on his face. The boys have, what can only be described as a bitch, about this mans failure to catch a carp. At least he’s caught something, I quietly think to myself. We go back to discussing the best way to soak your balls.
Andrew pops off for a walk around the lake, to get some local knowledge. I sit with Stuart discussing Andy’s week day ‘Angry Eyes’ He’s like Mr Potato head. You never question his moods because they are so well displayed through his eyes. It’s at this moment, as we quietly sit enjoying the sun, I start to realise why we are here. It is a meditation. Quiet, calm and still. The noisiest thing around us is the wildlife. Well, and now me. It is a bliss, where your mind empties and you begin to think that maybe, things aren’t that bad after all.
Andrew reappears and almost immediately one of the rod alarms goes off. Fish on. Oh I hope it’s not an eel. We all stand up. Stuart stumbles over a tent peg nearly falling straight into the lake. Andy pops in his Angry Eyes. There is this mix of tension and excitement and mild sort of panic as Stuart wrestles something that appears to have the strength of a small cow. I am sent away to get the carp mat, I don’t know what that is but I return with something that smells so offensive it must be useful. The struggle appears to last for hours and then, from the depths of this mighty lake appears the biggest fish I have ever seen in my life. Although bear in mind the biggest fish I have ever seen is probably a mackerel.
It’s actually quite majestic.
We subject this fish to a few selfies before plopping him back into the lake. I feel slightly disgruntled.
On the surface its all kind of pointless. There is no big feast to enjoy. Nothing dies (If that is your thing) but the boys look at each other full of excitement and fulfillment. Andy pops his Angry Eyes back in his hatch. It’s time for me to leave.
On Thursday, fishing to me was just a boring waste of a few days, with weeks of enduring a constant stream of bait arriving at the house and no less than three hours watching Andy play with his rod. Today I feel like I understand it a bit more. It is like a meditation. A moment of calm, getting back to the basics of life. Father and Son quietly enjoying the peace away from girlfriend and wife. An opportunity to let the wisdom rise.
With the world the way it is today, falling apart at the seams, I think we all need to make a little more time to indulge in our own boring hobbies, don’t you?
It’s not Sunday anymore. It’s Monday. Or as I like to call it. Utter ball ache.