I made a mistake last night that I’m not proud of. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking, but after a fun and successful afternoon fishing trip, I turned on the news while I ate supper.
Talk about a buzz kill.
My mood quickly transformed. I promptly went from a place of childhood happinessâfilled with raw palms, fish-scented hands and still-damp sweat stains on my t-shirtâto a place inundated with uncertainty and anger. I had a knot in my stomach, a lump in my throat and a crease in my brow.
With no appetite left, I put my uneaten food into the refrigerator, turned off the TV and sat in silence while my sore hands tinkered with an old spinnerbait I found on the coffee table. Essentially, the news was a vampire and my soul was its blood. I was emotionally spentâit sucked the life right out of me.
By no means am I a brilliant mindâjust a simple, country fisherman with ordinary thoughtsâand I’m sure as heck not arrogant enough to believe my words will have a substantial impact on anyone in society. But maybe, just maybe, you can relate and realize that you’re not alone in this jacked up, self-serving world. There are a lot more good people than bad people on Planet Earth. Good news doesn’t drive ratings, however, so instead we’re fed this toxic mixture of fear, lies and manipulation every day of our lives.
I challenge you to tell me the last positive segment you’ve seen on the news. Sure, the talking heads might endulge in a quick, 30-second segment about some puppy riding a skateboard or some other trivial bit, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
When’s the last time you saw something that made you feel like the world was getting better? When has the news put a smile on your face?
It simply doesn’t cover the day-to-day lives of normal, hard working outdoorsmen who work our hind ends raw to provide a better life for ourselves and our families. It doesn’t cover the polite smiles we give other patronsâregardless of their skin color or religious beliefsâas we hold the door for them at the local corner store on our way to the lake or woods. We don’t see all the times our brothers and sisters hold the door open for folks, help them load groceries, give the less fortunate a case of bottled water or pay for a stranger’s lunch.
It happens millions of times each and every day, but we’ll never see it. But we should refuse to allow this constant, spoon-fed pessimism dissuade us from living happy, fulfilling lives doing what we love most.
We’re fishermen, dangit. We’re in touch with our innermost thoughts because this passion gifts us with time alone; a beautiful rarity in today’s world. We can turn our phones off, get in a boat or hike down a backwoods bank and be content with ourselves.
We don’t go fishing to simply catch fish. We fish because, as I’ve written before, our boats and shorelines transform into our front porch in Mayberry for just a few hours. For this window of time, however small it may be, we’re able to pretend there’s no evil in the world.
Knowing our collective goodness and our hearts for one another, I often find myself saddened when I open Facebook or any other social media platform. Johnny likes Candidate X and Jimmy likes Candidate Y; they’ll never change the other’s mind, but by gosh, they’ll spend hours bickering and name calling to get their point across.
Our biggest bondâthe most obvious common denominator we shareâis completely wasted because so many of us are too entrenched in the news. Instead of helping each other catch more fish or keeping up with each other’s outdoor adventures, we’re being complete jerks to one another for no reason. Never once has a Facebook argument changed someone’s mind and I have a sneaking suspicion that it never will.
I’ve been guilty of all of this as well, so I’m not hiding in my glass house while throwing rocks. I simply want us all to calm the heck down, get back to square one and focus on what we love; not what, or who, we hate.
Let’s turn off the news more often and go fishing. This sport is out there for all of us to enjoy, regardless of our background, color or opinions. We get one at-bat when it comes to life and it’s up to us to make it worthwhile.
Are you in?