It’s not what you wanted, but it’ll do
Catching pompano on the beach is one of my favorite things to do. Their tasty white meat is prized just below yellowfin tuna in my book. They are the perfect size for two people and fit nicely inside a Big Green Egg. Now that the water is warming up, I’ve gotten to go wet my hooks a couple times already. I’ve entered the Gulf Breeze Bait and Tackle tournament (which assures me that I won’t catch anything over three pounds). My reels are cleaned and the line is checked. The beach cart is loaded with ice chest, rod holders, beach chair, umbrella, tackle box, sand flea rake, and of course, three long surf rods. After a trek across the sand, we look for a hole in the sandbar to set up shop. It’s awesome.
Last week, my buddy Patrick and I went to one of the more productive spots we know. (I could tell you where it is, but then I’d have to kill you.) Within 20 minutes, the last rod in our group was pumping and we knew we had a fish on! I grabbed the rod and instantly knew this was no pompano. It took line and didn’t slow down. I thought it might be a big ray until I felt the head shake. “Big red, or black drum” Patrick said. After 30 minutes of reeling and about 100 yards down the beach, I landed a 38” black drum. A small crowd gathered during the fight and Larry, said “You won’t catch anything that big the rest of the day. It’s all downhill after that.”
Larry was wrong. In truth, we ended up catching another big black drum that measured 40” and at least a dozen whiting. We caught three keeper pompano, several juveniles, and a big 35” bull red. It was a great day on the beach. Patrick went home with some fish for the grill, while Larry kept the first black drum.
“The back end is full of worms, but the rest of him will taste great” he said right before I offered for him to keep it. “It’s not the targeted species; I’m here for pompano,” I said.
Driving back from the beach, I began to think about how much my day of fishing reflected the life I was living:
1. Life gives us detours sometimes; Enjoy them as best you can! Sometimes life seems to withhold the targeted species. In those cases, we need to try to enjoy the detour. Maybe you didn’t get the job you wanted. At least you got a job! Maybe you didn’t get the diagnosis you wanted, but you are still here. Maybe your kids aren’t turning out the way you had planned, but they are finding a new path. That divorce just might be the best thing that ever happened. When life gives you a black drum, try to enjoy the detour.
2. Watch out for your distractions: Sometimes life offers some fun diversions. We find ourselves in new relationships and new places that we’d never imagined. I love it when I hear someone say something like “Twenty years ago if you had said I’d be doing this (or living here) I’d have called you a liar.” Life can throw us some curve balls and it’s great when we learn to enjoy the detours. However, we don’t ever need to forget our goals, ambitions, and calling. I often hear people share about how they used to feel close to God, but life distracted them over the last few years. For others, it’s a midlife crisis that helps them recall their old goals and hopes. Don’t get so distracted by life that you forget who you are.
3. Don’t give up on your goals, even if they seem elusive. There is a certain sadness that I feel when I see someone who has given up. Jesus’s first question to his disciples was “What do you want?” (John 1:38) He was asking them to look ahead at what they wanted to get out of life. While I hope we can enjoy the detours life throws at us, I hope we don’t give up. You might keep hitting that brick wall, but you are tougher! You might not be ready yet, but don’t quit trying! You might not be big enough, educated enough, wise enough, old enough, or have saved enough, but you can still get there! Don’t give up on your dreams. Basically, you can enjoy the occasional black drum, but don’t give up on the pompano!
Love one. Love another.