I Do a Lot of Office FishingSalmon, Richard 1952-03-28
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And now, This I Believe, the living philosophies of thoughtful men and women, presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Richard Salmon is an artist, but he has spent a lifetime with hunting and fishing as his chief avocation. Hear now from the author of Fly Fishing for Trout.
Some years ago, I started to look at the stars through high-powered binoculars and began reading books written by astronomers for people like me. I became an entranced stargazer for a while.
The men who have learned as much as we know about the universe point out that the sun is an insignificant, moderately hot star in a nebula where it is fixed. The Milky Way, which I have always wanted to spell "w-h-e-y," is composed of our brothers and sisters, and we are all moving around a central hub. And the hub is moving toward some place, I don't know where. My brothers and sisters are numbered in billions of billions, and our galaxy itself is one of many, many--how many, I don't know.
Our sun is so small and our earth, its offspring, is so tiny that when I think of the magnitude, I think of what O. Henry described as a "Statue of What's the Use."
What difference does it make that I exist? What possible influence can I make, or my nation make, or a world make?
Where am I going on this ride and does it make any sense? Who's the boss and what's He got in mind?
That's what I got to thinking--it's all too big, too inevitable, too uncontrollable, and if I think about it with my eyes closed, it's a pretty pessimistic picture.
Then one day I saw a hunting dog in the woods, an English setter flecked with black. His tail tangled with dock burs. This is a common occurrence to guys like me. I always want to stop and pull out the burs. But this time, out of nowhere, came the realization that this bounding, healthy dog was performing an important job: the job of transporting seeds that were constructed for the very purpose of
hitchhiking. The fluff of milkweed sails on the wind to start a new colony miles from its original parent. This dog and its tangle of dock burs are all part of a plan. And so am I.
I believe the plan on this small, lonely earth is to make the best of it--a policy that is becoming increasingly more difficult as the number of human beings increases.
When I came to New York many years ago, I found that in big cities people live faster and decide things quicker than country folk. They have to, in order to survive in the struggle for existence.
Several times a week I slug it out with city dwellers for a place in the subway. They seem a bad lot. But when I pass a city dweller on a trout stream I find he's just like other people. He'll speak to me with interest, even warmth. He'll ask me how many trout I've taken,
what fly was successful. And I break down and tell him, and point out that perhaps the black gnat he's using is too large.
I have tried to make the best of it by doing a lot of office fishing, some front porch fishing, and some quiet mulling about the magnificent things such as dock burs and remote stars. What's more, I have found it fun; fun that has brought me a lot of happiness, a lot of contentment, and a lot of peace.
That was artist Richard Salmon, a native of Lockhaven, Pennsylvania and now a resident of Rockland County, New York, who has learned that a little quiet fishing and thinking can bring happiness and peace into a busy, dizzy world.