Give A Man a Fish….

You know the saying:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

I hate fishing. Hate it with a passion.

When I was a kid, my dad took me and my older twin brothers to Alexandria, Minnesota. My great aunt Jo lived on Lake Latoka there. She owned a large pontoon boat and had a lot of old dude friends who liked to fish. She made fruit punch slushies, filled up ice cream pails with it, and sent me, my brothers, the old dudes, and my dad off to the lake.

We caught 109 fish that afternoon. I remember running from one full hook to the next, taking off fish and throwing them in the water basket. It was an exhilarating time.

The next year, my dad took the three of us to a lake in St. James, Minnesota. That is the exact opposite direction of the northern city of Alexandria, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Down there, the lakes are shallow, green, smell like toilets from hell, and give you the runs just for walking past. We had no boat and stood on the dock. There was no wind and it was 98 degrees, with high humidity.

We caught a frog and a bicycle.

On the way home, I asked my dad a very important question that would change the course of my life:

Was our success last year in Alexandria what most fishing trips are like, or is it closer to the misery of St. James?

Dad, not knowing that he was about to give a young gentleman an enormous distaste for an absolutely pointless and boring activity, answered as honestly as every fisherperson should answer:

St. James is the norm.

That was it for me. I never fished again – on purpose.

 

When a Suicidal Friend Comes Calling

“I feel like nobody loves me. My head is telling me I want to die,” she said over Facebook Messenger.

This was the fourth time in two days she said this to me. I was frustrated, because I just don’t understand suicide. I love life, no matter how shitty it is. My mind just never goes there. And it’s not the knowledge that some people can’t stop going down that mental road. Rather, it’s the fact that I can’t fix it. And I want to fix it.

“Well…you’re fucking worthless. You’re good for nothing. Nobody will miss you if you’re gone. You’ve never done one thing for me that I will tell my grandkids about. It’s as if you don’t exist,” I replied.

She became internally angry at my words and responded with a wink and a squeaked out “Thanks for that.”

The reader asks: Hey asshole! What just happened?!

I became her brain, albeit externally, saying the same shit her internal brain was yelling at her, and she reacted angrily toward my words, knowing, of course, that I was being facetious. Her internal brain then attacked the words that her internal brain was telling her, yet attacked the external brain. It wasn’t a solution to the problem, but it did give a little glimmer that there was still life to be lived. Essentially, the fact that she was angry at the external brain for telling her lies, meant that she could somehow re-channel that anger toward the incessant lies of her internal brain.

Except, that was merely the hope for that moment. There will be more lies tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. I won’t be using the same tactic (maybe), but I will still be rooting for her to live. For her success in this life. For her to maybe one day, break away from all the bad memories and thoughts that bring her to the brink, and create new memories and new thought pathways to bring more joy.