My wife and I have been watching a great Netflix series the last few years. Virgin River is a story about a small town in Oregon where (as you can imagine) there is a lot of local drama interwoven with some larger real life challenges. One of the primary characters is played by an actor named Tim Matthieson who many would know as one of the key players in the cult film Animal House (he played “Otter”). In this particular show, Tim plays the local family doctor, aka “Doc”, and most everything that happens in the community runs through Doc and/or his long time love who serves as the community’s mayor and informational gatekeeper.
In a recent episode, Doc took a young man from the community out for an afternoon fishing trip. The goal of the trip was to talk through the issues that young man was facing and about how all of it fits into the game of life. Doc was, as he often does, mentoring the rising leader in the community.
When someone says “fishing” one’s mind could arrive at many different destinations of what fishing truly means. You could land anywhere from young kids casting lines off of a local pier to throwing lures out from the back of Tiger Wood’s yacht. There is a vast continuum of options we could think of here. In this scenario, Doc’s vessel is a standard silver medal boat with two wooden plank seats across and oars to paddle yourselves out from the dock and back. Small slow stream (the “River”), simple boat, old school.
After some time of these two men fishing, the mentee asked Doc, “You catch a lot of fish out here?” To which Doc said (paraphrasing here), “No. I just like to be out on the water where I can think. Nothing can bother me out here. The phone doesn’t ring, people in the office can’t bother me, I can just be. I get my best thinking done out here, the fish really don’t matter.”
While the young man was surprised that catching fish wasn’t Doc’s primary objective of the day, I was not…..
My fishing boat, so to speak, is the swimming pool. I get more thinking done in 20-30 minutes of swimming laps than I do anywhere else. The challenge as I get older is how to remember all those thoughts from the pool as I have no way to physically write down while executing 25 yard freestyle laps. I’m working on that part.
The way I see it, Doc’s key message is this.
Where is your fishing spot? (Or swimming pool?).
Do you create an intentional time for thought and reflection on a regular basis?
At the end of the day we all need that river, that pool, that outlet. We not only need the channel or resource or vessel, we need an intentional effort to use it in a way that refreshes us in thought.
Here is to finding and leveraging your place of reflection today.