there are so many memories i have with my father. for the longest time, the bad ones were the ones that stuck out the most – how he would yell when we overcooked the rice, how he’d never be satisfied with the way i’d dress or the way i looked, how we were always waiting on him and trying our best to please him – but now that i’m getting to know the softer side of him, i’m remembering a man who worked and struggled his hardest to make it in a world that was new to him, a man who only wanted the best for us.
one of my fondest memories with my father was the times he would seek peace from the pressures of trying to ‘make it in america’. his favorite pastime was fishing.
Fishing for my father was not so much about catching the fish as it was about being the fish. He loved the peace that came with fishing. He loved the early morning hours. It was his time to be in nature and to practice the art of being someone other than himself, another creature in nature. Fishing was his time to be in stillness, away from the chatter in his mind telling him that he needed to be someone more accomplished, someone famous making lots of money, someone better than who he was. Fishing is where he became a fish, and where he and the fish became one.
“Be a fish,” said my father. But I was a little girl. How could I be a fish? I had legs and arms. And fish don’t. Fish swim. I have words. Fish have bubbles. I could be a little girl pretending to be a fish, I thought.
“Be a fish,” said my father. I stood beside him and watched. He was still and quiet. I liked being next to my father when he was pretending to be a fish. He liked being a fish.
You must be still like a fish. You know how a fish can be still in the water, you must be that fish. Don’t try to be still, just be still. Don’t try to swim, just float. Be a fish, my father told me. I listened and listened and I could hear the stillness of the water. I practiced being the fish. Now, see the worm.
Feel him nibble. He takes very small nibbles, and if you are making any noise, he will hear you and you won’t be able to feel his nibbles. Fish know how to nibble carefully. They will sometimes use their tails to fool you and you will think they are nibbling when really they’re testing to see if there’s a string. Don’t be fooled. Be a fish.
My father was good at being a fish. I wasn’t. The fish swarmed around him. He was one of them. “Be a fish,” my father said. Seeing things through the eyes of a fish was not easy. As I practiced being a fish, I had to lose my words, feel the quiet, see and hear through the clear waters of the cold stream. As I opened my eyes wide, and floated in stillness and simply listened, I, too, became a fish. (excerpt from a book in the making)
when i think about it, the man who was often the loudest part of my life, was also the one who nurtured my heart, sought peace, and taught me to cherish it. thank you dad! you are an incredibly sensitive and loving man, and i’m so very grateful for the many lessons. happy father’s day! i love you!