Photo courtesy of Melinda Belcher Gallo
The Fisherman’s Wait
I am struck by the beauty of this photo, not only because of the remarkable capture of the sunrise with its incredible colours but also with the message it sends.
Two fishermen, standing motionless in the ocean, waiting for just the right moment to cast their nets. This method of fishing is a traditional skill, learned and practised years ago when this country, and others like it, were not the scene of giant fishing trawlers or huge nets put into the ocean to catch all that came swimming along. Cast net fishing is not used very much now. It takes great skill, experience, and, above all, patience.
These 2 fishermen are here with the sole purpose of catching enough fish to feed their families probably for just today. Their skill was handed down to them through generations before them.
I came to this island years ago from a busy urban area in the north. Life there was very different. I was used to setting goals, moving as rapidly as possible to attain them, and if not immediately successful, I very often chose to quickly change my process, even sometimes to give up and go onto something new.
Here I am more open to using a slower pace, enjoying the process without fixation on the end goals.
As I watch these fishermen I imagine their process.
The fisherman enters the ocean, walks gently about 2 meters into the surf, where he stops, feels his feet sink into sand, chooses a stance of balance, and waits with his cast net poised for its flight.
Why does he wait? Does he need to wait until the vibrations of his movements subside? Is it because he waits to see tiny flickering movements in the water ahead of him that indicate approaching fish? Does he wait to match the ocean’s rhythm with his?
When he senses that the time is just right, he throws his cast net into the distance where it lands with widening form, and then sinks. He begins to pull the net back with just the right speed and strength until it reaches his hands, folded, so he can gather it up and carry it back to the shore to examine his catch. He empties the net being careful to retrieve and reserve the large fish and to gently return the smaller ones back to the ocean.
If he has little or no success, he arranges the cast net in the ready position and walks out again into the ocean and tries again. He may move further down the beach and enter the ocean there, but he repeats the process over and over again until he decides that the ocean has given up enough for this day.
Even when he has no success, before he leaves to go home, he very carefully cleans and folds his net into his bag, the tools of his work ready to come again another day.
What are the ingredients he brings to his work, the process elements that I can learn to copy in my life and work? A practised skill used with extreme patience, careful attention to detail, a balance of strong and gentle movements, a sense of just the right moment to act, a reverence for the environment of which I am a part, and fortitude to try and try again.
Is this meaningful for you? Which of those ingredients are your choice? Which one would you suggest is the most important? Please share your thoughts.
Hi Judith – you have a comments section! I just wanted to say how I love how an image can trigger thoughts that are completely unrelated and yet they sync together beautifully. I think patience is the biggest lesson I’m learning these days – and it applies to so many areas of life (including those fishermen!)
Thanks, Leanne, I had so much fun imagining their process. Tried to research for factual information with no success. A couple of friends gave me suggestions. What I needed was one of those fishermen to give me the real scoop but not possible. Yes, you are right; patience is the critical ingredient.
Thank you Judith for bringing such depth to this photo. I walk the beach everyday with the dogs and snap pictures of things that interest me and post but rarely sit and reflect on the photos. I think if the last few years have thought us anything it is that we need to slow our lives down and realize what really matters. I like you came to the island from NJ/NY area. I worked in Manhattan 5 days a week which meant I had an 11 hour day **if the train was on time**. I did that for 10 years and you get into a faster past from just your surroundings. After spending the last 8 months before the move working from home I learned to slow down a little but it was a very unsettling time. Being confined to home my walks with the dog became my only escape. Then with the sale of the house, the downsizing of all of our “stuff” and the move to my in-laws that brought a whole level of change and stress on top of COVID. Moving down here in November 2020 was the best decision we could have made. It took us away from the daily media coverage of the pandemic. It took us away from the cold and another winter cooped up inside. It gave us the freedom to walk around in the sun and fresh air or be in the pool. While Jim has fallen right into retirement, I am still figuring out semi-retirement. I do love not having to be in front of the computer at any given hour of the day (unless there is a meeting). For the most part I work when I want as long as the job is done. It’s less money than I made as a full-time employee but also less stress. Now I fill my day with things that I want to do like the gym, play practice, walking the dogs, bible study, christian fellowship, reading and a little work. Life is good and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Thank you Melinda for your response and for sharing your story. You are certainly modelling successful change to a new life that includes more freedom, choice of activities, appreciation of less stress, and discovery of new purpose. I respect and admire your contribution to the community