Part 39: The path least travelled (part 17)
2007-08-16 14:54:43 -

Metro Eireann presents the latest weekly column by the entrepreneur coach and business growth specialist, designed to help you overcome any obstacles and reach your dreams 

Previously: Only three days into their adventure, our three friends have grown immensely. Preter-itus, who spent much of his time reflecting on the woes of his past, has seen a glimpse of how fulfilling life can be by living in the now. Nunco has recounted how he learnt many of life’s lessons by making choices and taking action, while Prostremo, the consummate planner and wistful thinker, has fallen in love and understood what joy can come from living a minute with 60 seconds of true abandonment. And Electra, who has fallen in love with Prostremo, has seen how the web of friendship can truly unite and strengthen those that are blessed enough to appreciate their friends for who they are…

The glimmer of the lake and the prospect of a tasty fish dinner drove the travellers on to greater haste. After a few minutes of stumbling through the heather towards the water, they came across a small track.

“At last we can get some easy walking,” said Prostremo. “Seems like this track was made by deer or sheep.”

“It’s funny how wild life always seem to know the right way to go,” said Preteritus. “They always pick out the most efficient route from one place to another. What’s more, the track looks like it is going right over to the lake!”

“I guess they don’t actually plan it that way, do they, Pre?” asked Prostremo. “It’s okay to have a goal, like they probably did instinctively, to get to the lake to drink. I do however see one of my flaws, which was to have a perfect plan to reach the goal, because I guess life is not always so straightforward.

“In the human world, we would probably have come up with some learned maxim, such as ‘the shortest distance between two points is a straight line’. Yet in reality, if this path we are on now was to continue straight on, the deer would have had to place some explosive charges on that rock dead ahead to blast their way through!”

“Like the river meeting the stone?” added Nunco. “Gravity forces the water downhill, and when it meets a stone, rather than trying to force its way through the stone, it flows around it.

“The same is true in life. When we come across an obstacle, if we were to try and force our way through, and that object was like ourselves – with a mind and feelings – we would create resistance in the other person.”

“Like being told what to do,” said Electra pensively as she looked ahead at the shimmering lake, deftly stepping aside to avoid plonking her foot in a gift left by the previous four-legged user of the path.

“Exactly,” said Nunco. “None of us like being told what to do and we resist it, yet for some reason we always seem amazed when someone resists our ideas!”
“Would your father bringing you fishing be a good example?” asked Prostremo.

“Yes,” replied Nunco, “as I mentioned earlier, I could see no reason in fishing, so I resisted it. Oh yes, I still went fishing, because I probably wanted my father’s approval, but I resented it. It was for that reason that I hated it, and probably why I was completely unsuccessful”
“You must have caught something?” asked Prostremo.

“I did, of course,” replied Nunco. “Indeed, I solved one of life’s great mysteries out on that lake!”
“Something really deep, I’m guessing,” said Preteritus

“Yes, it was deep where I found the answer,” said Nunco. “Deep within the lake. I was seven at the time, and we had always wondered what had become of my next door neighbour’s old bike; it must have been stolen and thrown in the lake, waiting for me to hook my first catch!”

“Funny guy!” smiled Electra. “Well now’s your chance to prove your true prowess – we have arrived at the lake! And I think over there by the trees looks like a good place. What should we use as bait?”
“What’s your favourite food, Electra?” asked Nunco.

“Strawberries and cream!” she answered in a snap. “Though when I was pregnant, I loved coleslaw omelettes!”

“Yeeuch!” exclaimed Preteritus. “Though I don’t quite get Nunco’s question. What does it matter what Electra likes to eat? Should we not be looking for a food that fish like to eat, like worms or something?”

“It seems so easy when it’s black and white, doesn’t it?” Nunco asked rhetorically. “Yet going back to people resisting our ideas – could it not be due to the fact that we express what we want other people to do in terms of what we want to do ourselves, rather than in a way that might actually be appealing to them?

“My father loved fishing, though at the time I had no idea why, and he thought that I would like what he wanted. In fact he expected me to like what he wanted and he felt it would be a great ‘bonding’ experience. I would have much preferred if he had actually done something that I really wanted, like come along to one of my football matches and actually feel proud that his son was out there playing. I wasn’t much good, but I tried.

“I guess what I am saying is that everyone is different, and we sometimes must take the time to get to know what it is the other person wants. Only when we know where they are coming from can we be in a position to persuade them to do something which might actually be of mutual benefit.”

“I can’t see the benefit for the fish, for being our supper!” quipped Preteritus. “But seriously, I do see where you are coming from”

“Okay, you great philosophers, can we get on with a spot of fishing please?” said Electra, with slight impatience. “Besides, I wouldn’t know the first place to look for worms.”

“Try looking under that stuff you nearly walked in on the path,” said Prostremo “It may not be strawberries and cream, but maggots sure like to eat it!”

After a few minutes of looking in rather undesirable places, the team had gathered a number of maggots and worms. Electra had decided that this was certainly not a time to assert her gender equality issues and had laid out the tent ground covers so that they could sit back and watch Nunco’s newfound brilliance at angling – or so they hoped!

After five or six attempts at skewering a wriggling maggot onto the barbs of his hook, Nunco managed to successfully cast out a line into the lake. It wasn’t 30 seconds later when Prostremo started to become impatient: “Not having much luck, are you? How long does this take?”

“Well, using my combined experiences to date,” answered Nunco wryly, “after about 20 outings, I caught two fish and a bicycle, so I guess by tomorrow evening I might just have a bite!”
“What’s that?” exclaimed Preteritus suddenly. “Did that orange thingy move?”

“Wow, it did indeed, I think I have caught something,” said Nunco, as he gave a tug on the line in an effort to secure the hook. Five minutes later after much panting, thrashing around and general confusion – none of it actually by what was at the end of the line – the intrepid anglers managed to land their first catch.

“What a monster!” ex-claimed Electra as she observed 6cm of silver fish flapping on the bank, the hook finally out of its mouth. “Guess this will keep us fed for days!”

“No need to be so smart,” replied Nunco. “I have after all increased my lifetime’s tally by fifty per cent!”

Two hours later, after the friends had all taken their turn, there were eleven fish neatly laid out on the bank, ranging from the first tiddler to a truly decent-sized fish of almost 40cm, weighing in an nearly a kilo, which was caught by Electra.

“So who knows how to gut these things?” shr asked.”
“I did it once before,” Preteritus announced. “But then again, my granddad nearly choked on the bones that I managed to leave in. In fact, he seemed to think that I had actually taken the bones from all of the other fish I’d prepared and shoved them into his one!”

“Okay, you’re elected,” said Nunco. “I can only assume that you learnt from the experience and that you will not try and kill the lot of us. So what goes with fish then?”

To be continued next week
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