Going Fishing

When I’m alone I often think about going fishing. Fishing gives you the excuse and opportunity to be purposely alone. Idly sitting, watching the water move and the float bob, or hoping it will bob at some point, fishing is such a perfect contemplative space. You are with your thoughts, a finite piece of time in which to ponder the greater meaning of life, or daydream shapes in the clouds, or drink a beer during the day without guilt. If you fish with a buddy conversation is not encouraged. It scares the fish. In fact, you want your buddy a far bit away so that you have your own “spot”. So there you are, alone and it’s okay, and acceptable.

This is very unlike being alone in the city. Dining alone, walking alone, shopping alone, cooking alone, sometimes I feel that no one even sees me, like I’m a wisp of fog against a sky of clouds. It’s an odd feeling to be in a city of millions and yet feel like you are the only one on the planet. People practice not noticing each other, avoiding eye contact and you don’t talk to strangers, you don’t even know your neighbors.

When fishing, you’re not really alone; you have the sky and the sun and the water. Every cast is an act of optimism, the hope to hook something, an effort to connect. It’s a lot like dating, eyeing the waters, and hoping you don’t end up empty handed. You might catch the big one, or have to throw back your catch or perhaps not catch anything at all. It’s implied that whether or not it was productive it was a noble effort and not just time slacking off or frittered away. You won’t hear the cringe-inducing questions, “What did you do all weekend by yourself?”, or “Table for just one?”

Fishing for companionship in the city is for many a futile effort. The maxim “there are many fish in the sea” doesn’t seem to hold true. Many people never find their catch amidst the concrete rivers here. Being solitary is such a stigma and yet what is one to do about it? You get accused of making poor choices or being picky or maybe just being a failure. “Oh, you aren’t seeing anyone?” Cringe. Or maybe, like fishing, there was the one that got away, and the wish for companionship becomes a tale told with a wistful look in the eye.

I’ve been lonely for what feels so long now that even though I notice it keenly it doesn’t have the stabbing ache it once did, and I wonder if I am just becoming accustomed to this new state of being, like getting used to a broken toe. I have dear, loving friends, but at the end of the day I come home and there are only one pair of shoes under the bed. The warm body next to me at night is my old snoring cat so I hug a pillow and roll over and watch the zebra shadows on the wall and wish I were fishing.

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5 responses to “Going Fishing

  1. If my daddy were to have read this, he would have said ‘That was some beautiful writing. But…fishing takes a lot of patience and you don’t come home with something everytime.’

    Sometimes we are invisible because we choose to be. I have that superpower and I had to actively turn it off so that I might be seen.

    Thank goddess I did it in time. for you and our other friends are mighty blessings upon my humble head.

    So…fish. But at the end of the day, if you don’t get any fish, its okay. Cause there is always tomorrow.

    Also, move to Oakland. This is a friendly town!!

  2. I think the ‘trick’ is to learn to be alone but not lonely. Maybe it is my solitary, almost anti-social nature, but now I find myself alone after 25+ years and it is not bad. I don’t feel lonely when I am home alone, I relish it. After a year I am finally getting an urge to go out and see/meet people again. Of course that is scary because for many years I didn’t do that. I was ‘cosy’ in my relationship and didn’t need anything or anyone else, and I may have lost friends because of it. (What a mistake!) I am hoping to find my way back to friends and society, not because I NEED it, but because I want it.
    I agree with Luna, “if you don’t get any fish, its okay. Cause there is always tomorrow.”

  3. I crave alone time but only because my life is so FULL of people wanting a bit of me for this that and the other. I have the opposite of you, there are too many warm bodies and shoes everywhere. Some nights I just have to say no more people moms ears are closed, I can’t take anymore!!

  4. mUm in the Mountains

    Your thoughts provoke so much thinking about the times I have been alone and how I felt about that. I will be alone again, but I know that I can always reach out if I feel the need for company. I think the biggest challenge is being around quality people. I really look forward to them and regret when our time together is over. Lots to think about.

  5. That is a gorgeous post. I love the analogy that you use, and I feel for where you are with the one person at the end of the day. I’ve been there and done that. And at the end of the day – I’m glad I had those nights rather than spending them with the wrong person. I can always make myself happy. The wrong person can’t.

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