Editor’s Log: The Secret - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: The Secret

Over the weekend, I was manning our booth at the Connecticut Fishing & Outdoor Show held at Mohegan Sun Casino. I love working shows because I get to meet other fishermen that I wouldn’t meet any other way. Some of these chance meetings have resulted in lasting friendships, others have left me with nuggets of wisdom that have helped me see some of the deeper meaning in life.

On Friday a man came to renew his subscription. He was older than me by a good margin, but it was clear, this man lived with purpose. There was drive in this guy, something you can see without really seeing it. While he was digging his credit card out of his wallet, I caught a glimpse of his driver’s license and saw that his birthday had just passed; I didn’t even look at the year, it was just one of those times when your eyes see numbers and your brain goes through the motions of deciphering them.

“I see birthday wishes are in order,” I said with a smile. I quickly followed by assuring him that I wasn’t trying to pull anything sneaky by peaking inside his wallet! “Yup,” he said, “I just turned 80 on Tuesday.” My eyes shot back to his license, still displayed in his open wallet, and saw the year, 1944.

I didn’t say this out loud, but in my mind I was astonished. This guy couldn’t be 80 years old! Square-shouldered and solid as a rock, I would have guessed like 67. The conversation continued to what he did for work, he said he had done tree work and retired in his 50s. “I’ve had both shoulders replaced because of that work!” he said very bluntly. I laughed and said, “Yeah, I don’t doubt that for second!”

I looked him in the eye and asked, “What’s the secret? What’s the key to staying in the kind of shape you’re in at 80 years old?”

His eyes sharpened, and with all the sincerity and seriousness in the world, he said, “Stay active and always make time to do what you love.” He went on to explain that he always had a boat (and still does) and would always set aside time for fishing. He told me about some of the huge stripers he’d landed over the years, one of them a 54-pounder that graced the cover of this magazine back in the mid-1990s along with a few others that eclipsed the magic 50-pound plateau.

And in those stories, I saw the seriousness of this man lift and that boyish excitement that lives within most fishermen, emerged. When you see that outward change – sort of – manifest in someone, it becomes really easy to see that enjoying life, and dare I say, nurturing an obsession, really is the foundation of living well. I add in the ‘nurturing an obsession’ part, because I think a lot of people lose that as they grow older and, for me, when I tap into that part of my persona I experience excitement and a will to put in 175% in the same way I did when I was 14 years old. I don’t think most 43-year-old dudes have a conduit back to that time of their lives. And if what all the experts say about stress, and what it does to your body and mind, is true then living well may also serve as the basis for living a longer and more fulfilled life.

What I took from that short conversation is that the secret is to ‘be yourself’. But that doesn’t mean ‘be who you are right now’ it means find a way to ‘be who you’ve always been’, or perhaps, ‘be the person who you know you are’ not the curated character you play in your day-to-day. It’s hard to be real, because you have to be honest which leaves us open to judgement. But if you try that, I think you’ll find that it’s easier than it sounds and you’ll see just how easy it is to find that pathway back to the days when you barely had a worry in the world.

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