May 21, 2013

Singing for fish.

Her first words to me were: Hi there. Want to come help me sing?”

She was no more than six years old, and she had been sitting on the dock, fishing rod in hand, for about ten minutes before I walked by. Her dad sat seven or eight feet away, holding a book in his hands, periodically wiping the sleep out of his eyes while he watched his daughter peer into the water, searching for fish.

She wakes up so early every Sunday morning, and I need to get her out of the house so she doesn’t wake her mom up, so I bring her here to this dock to fish.”

With his permission, I approached the young girl and asked her what she meant by help her sing.” She was holding a fishing rod and staring across Mirror Lake at 8am on a Sunday morning; I couldn’t figure out what role singing had to play in her activities, so I had to ask her.

For her, the connection was clear.

She never caught any fish when she was out fishing on Sunday mornings with her dad, but when he went fishing with his friends, he always came home with a sizable catch. Determined to discover the reason for his success, she had spent the past few weeks asking her dad all about his fishing trips and how they were different from what they did together on Sunday mornings.

She had eventually discovered the recipe for his success, or at least she thought she had: when daddy went out fishing, he and his friends always played music from the boat. Her lack of music was the reason she always came home empty-handed.

Hence the singing.

There, on a dock on Mirror Lake at 8am on a Sunday morning, a six-year-old and I sat, fishing rod in hand, loudly singing Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift songs while her dad napped a few feet away and while the rest of the lakeside community slept soundly in their beds.

We didn’t catch anything that morning, but she was convinced it was because we didn’t sing loudly enough. She would try again next week.

Things don’t always work out for us they way they work out for others.

So we learn. We examine what they do, learn from their successes, and try new ways of doing things — whether at work or in our romantic lives or sitting on a dock in the Muskokas — until we finally succeed.

Sometimes we don’t succeed. Sometimes our efforts feel as futile as singing pop songs into the water in the hopes of attracting fish. Even then, we corral our friends to help us out and come back to try again next week.

Sometimes, we don’t succeed, and that’s okay. All that matters is that we keep learning, and that we keep trying.

One day, we’ll catch that fish.