I’m always measuring time by things done, tasks accomplished and goals achieved—or I’m beating myself up over the lack thereof. But last night, I went fishing, and it was freedom. Sitting there in my $10 lawn chair with the same little fishing pole my grandma used to use was a glimmering instant in which time ceased to exist. It was a nice substitute for the quiet moment I used to have when I’d sit on my balcony in the evening to smoke a cigarette, the moment that I must tell myself I’m going to have. Otherwise, I am too entangled in time’s chattel to experience anything remotely close to that floating contentment of your spirit in some in-between realm of nothing and everything.
I am by no means some epically busy person; I work a day job and spend time with friends and family, and try to write in between. But I let my obsession with time consume me—it has so much control over me that as I was sitting there, staring up at the sky, in which I could swear I saw the milk swirls of our galaxy in that deep dark, I realized the lightness that had overcome my mind. A sigh, a relaxation. And it was because I had found that pocket in time, freedom from everything but that singular moment of just existing out there in nature. Not to sound like a hippie or anything (seeing as how there is no adequate synonym for nature), but you truly reap all the benefits from nature without needing to give anything in return, unlike the scheduled aspects of our life, where we must consistently put in to receive.
I won’t bore you with the details of the music the waves played on the shore, or the tinkle of the bells on the line when something bites, or the lingering scent of anchovies on your fingers and hot coffee from a thermos, or the visceral goo of the fish and wriggle of the worm as you put it on the hook, or the stars shining a hundred times brighter than they do back in town with the silhouette of the mountains even blacker than that vast space of sky—I won’t bore you with extravagant explanations of those, but they were all part of it. 🙂
Sometimes you have to let yourself get away from goal-setting and your identity as a writer and the self-worth measured in words composed and tasks completed. You need this as much as you need to write and read. Not only to be a better writer but to soothe your soul, give it a shout out to acknowledge that you know it’s still there amid all of the mad rushing of this clock-driven (or cellphone-driven) existence.
Sometimes you just have to get back to the basics, even if that involves standing there somewhat ignorantly for a while as you try to recall what you had learned as a child—how to tie a hook onto your line, how to bait your hook, how to cast your line—to get back into the swing of just being, reacquainting yourself with living life rather than measuring it—just you and the universe. Not worrying about deadlines, or word counts, or household tasks, or how you’re going to deal with a problem tomorrow, but just getting your line out there and taking it all in—or letting it all out. However you want to look at it.