January 25, 2009

What I Learned Fishing With Dad

In Cook Inlet, where my father and I used to fish, the difference between high and low tide is often in excess of 40 feet and when the ocean is in full flow, it collides through narrow channels like bath water roiled by a stumbling giant. In large inlets, the tide rushes in from opposite directions and leaves a distinct line of ripples, whirlpools and drift wood referred to as the flood line. The flood line isn’t dangerous, but it’s an eerie place where the ocean spits and slurps and is filled with floating debris and tiny lives trapped by the circular motion of currents and waves.

Like the flood line, life is a focal point where countless indomitable forces meet and, as participants in its tireless motion, we find ourselves mated to a confusing mix of debris. But without it—without the flood line's confusion, eerie motion and birthing sounds—we couldn’t appreciate the beauty of Snug Harbor (Earth’s most peaceful place) where mountains stretch to heaven and flocks of white birds dive to the sea like milk pouring from a carton. So you might say opposition is necessary in order to provide a contrast.

Yet, contrast constitutes a small part of its purpose. Just as there are several things we must do to travel straight and safely through the flood line, there is much we must accomplish in life. And it’s not an accident that accomplishment requires improvement and that improvement can only occur in less than ideal worlds. On some distant day, when our mortal eyes blink their last, shall we feel sad to leave this imperfect place? Perhaps, because we will have recognized this home as the perfect place to gain wisdom and appreciate what is noble in ourselves.

No comments: