Mother Teresa and the spirit of fishing
I’m in the mood to ponder a side of fishing that doesn’t really rate a mention in a lot of media. This philosophical rant will look at what makes fishing so special. A lot of you will recall when you first picked up a rod and landed that first fish. Chances are it was tiny (and very unlucky) but at that point a seed was sown. My seed has since grown, not so much into a single, grand tree that you can visit every so often but more of a vine that creeps into in the crevices of my everyday life with great influence. Thankfully I’ve propagated something akin to a blackberry in that my passion can withstand droughts, thrive anywhere and bears sweet fruits often.
So enough with the analogies, this particular ramble is spawned from the experiences I’ve had in the last 6mths where I moved to Darwin knowing no-one. I will be leaving soon but with me I will take a bunch of great new friendships and experiences. I can thank fishing for a lot of them.
Fishing provides a purpose. It gets you out there and often it’s the non-fish related memories that you bring home. I went fishing tonight and in three hours I probably only managed 10 mins of actual activity with fish catching potential. The rest of the time I spent photographing a setting sun, watching a couple get married and discussing values with Sister Shirley, a visiting Mother Teresa devotee from Cambodia. I definitely managed my bag limit of experiences!
I learnt that Mother Teresa devotees are all about helping the poorest of the poor, regardless of religion. These ladies are committed. Yesterday they looked at a list to discover where they would be sent for their next mission. Sister Shirley is going to East Timor. I didn’t think I’d be learning this stuff when I threw my rods in the car after this arvo.
For a more personal spiritual epiphany, I only need to go back to last weekend on the East Alligator River. The ‘East’ is a special place that divides Arnhem Land and Kakadu. The ancient Indigenous culture that has its roots in its escarpments is only surpassed in age by two things, geology and crocs – both of which haven’t changed in millions of years. At night we slept on the boat as it swung gently off the anchor rope. Above our swags was a doona of stars. Escarpments bathed in moonlight were our bed posts. It’s difficult not to ponder deeply in these scenarios and it was sobering to consider that the original inhabitants would have walked these cliffs in times past.
There is a theory that ‘Ley Lines’ connect places of spiritual and geographical significance. I’m not aware of anything that proves the concept but I’d argue that places like the East have a unexplainable feel about them that makes them special. Maybe it’s just the richness of the natural environment. I’ve had the same feeling in the hinterland of Byron and on the Kinabatangan Floodplain in Malaysia. These places leave their mark on you.
Fishing is also about mates. Take this blog for example. We are four lads who share a lot of common views but fishing is the thread that binds it all together. The blog evolved from emails flying back and fourth outlining details of our latest fishing trips and plans for the ones to come. Hamish and Lee combined their nous for social media to do the rest.
Lee recently took the mates factor one step further and proposed to his fiancé next to a trout stream! There’s a great blog about it here.
My best mates in Darwin are the ones I fish with. From zoolandish merman challenges to crab crump dance moves, fishing has a lot to answer for!
So I guess what it comes down to is that even a bad days fishing is better than … well most things. Its not so much about what you bring home in the esky but what you discover along the way. I’m sure I’ll be pondering how Sister Shirley is getting along in East Timor for some time to come.
My next post will probably be a trip report from the East Alligator and will include a bit on the hazards of rockbars –nearly flipped the boat! I’m also hoping to chase sailfish on a mid-week mission back to Dundee so there will be plenty of experiences to write about.