Fishing is an activity I have never particularly enjoyed, despite repeated attempts. Aside from some experiences as an elementary school student using a small net to catch fish in the Gifted class’ fish tank, which were not greatly encouraged, I have never managed to catch more than seaweed or the occasional tire with rod and reel. Worse, not only has my own fishing been ineffectual but my presence has tended to actively hinder the search for fish of those around me. In trying to figure out why fishing was such a difficult experience to me, I have come to some fairly broad conclusions.
It was highly ironic, then, that yesterday I had an amusing conversation with a fellow who enjoyed fishing and whose father was nearly exactly opposite in temperament to me. My own thoughts are that it is my extreme difficulties with getting my mind to turn off (it tends to race along nearly constantly) and stay still (as I tend to be a rather figdety person by nature) that hinder my enjoyment of fishing. Apparently, there are types of fishing (like fly fishing) that might be better suited to my state of mind, but even these would require subtle muscle development that may be a challenge. For some people fishing helps them in peaceful contemplation, wheras for me fishing is an activity that I find deeply unsatisfying (for the same reason I find the stillness and prolonged focus of hunting to be a challenge).
How does one find stillness of heart? As people, we tend to need a balance between rest and activity, lest we wear ourselves out, and we all need to find those areas where we can let our minds rest and find some sort of oasis of peace. Throughout human history and culture there have been a lot of different ways for people with different personalities to find some sort of contentment. Some people can find it in the quiet reflection on the beauties of creation, some people find it in prayer and meditation, and others find it a variety of other ways. Speaking for myself, I tend to find contentment most in peaceful activities that involve, for lack of a better word, intimacy. Since this is a rather complicated subject, it deserves to be explored at least a little, lest it be misunderstood.
One activity I would like to do a lot more often but have not had the chance is riding horses. I enjoy seeing creation, and for some reason I have found in those rare occasions I have gotten to ride horses that I appreciate the bond between a horse and a person, given that horses are often rather sensitive animals themselves. I have seen a few efforts to use horses in animal therapy with people (especially children) who have suffered great trauma, and I would think that these efforts would bear fruit especially for those who would find in horses gentle and safe affection to help overcome old wounds. And not only with horses, but generally I have found a great deal of contentment in cuddly and affectionate animals in general, though I have often been deeply pessimistic about my own abilities to take care of animals, not having grown up taking care of pets. Similarly, I enjoy the intellectual intimacy of a friendly and spirited conversation among a trusted group of people, and I tend to feel greatly inspired by such matters, although in most of my life I have tended to feel rather lonely after such experiences, as my enjoyment of hours spent in deep and loud conversation would be followed by a return to my somewhat cloistered life.
Likewise, I have also found a great deal of peace and stillness of heart in cuddling and hugging and other related affection, but being very shy and awkward (and often spectacularly unsuccessful) when it comes to such matters, it is a pleasure I have not often known, and the search for that aspect of personal contentment has been an extremely anxious and stressful one. I suppose my own personal touch hunger must have been evident from my very earliest life, as I have been told stories (and I believe them) that as a small and fussy and colicky child that being held was about the only thing that calmed down my rather fierce digestive system. This particular vulnerability has led to a great deal of personal suffering for me, and no doubt others who share this difficulty can relate as well from their own lives. But, if God is merciful at the right time and place and situation, it may also end up being an occasion for great healing and peace as well.
I think there are many ways for people to find contentment and peace because we have many different ways of working as human beings. Some people find peace in solitude, others in company. Some people choose peace in reflection and contemplation, others in action or in an escape from thought. We live in a world that is not at peace in any way. Often we ourselves have been shaped by conflicts and other horrors and finding some level of contentment and enjoyment of life, and peace with ourselves and others, can be a bit of a challenge. Would that we all knew ourselves well enough to know what brought us peace, and to seek those opportunities to find stillness of heart in those godly and proper activities that allowed us to recover our spirits and our sense of peace while we faced a world that is often all too stressful.