Is Your Fish Hook Half Full or Half Empty?
I can’t help it. I was born a pessimist. Some folks say you can change your outlook on life. I’m guessing those people are optimists. They think, "Sure I could change my point of view, but why would I want to? I’m already an optimist."
In truth, the idea that you can change the way you think is optimistic at best. Delusional is more like it. See, I told you I was a pessimist.
But while I will never be an optimist, I wish I was. So it gives me great pleasure to listen to my son Richie process things. With the slightest suggestion, he’ll change a minor disappointment into a great triumph, and a small failure into success of mythic proportions.
And I get to be a part of it.
The other day, we went fishing at a little pond inside a little zoo. The people behind the counter gave Richie his low-tech fishing pole and a can of worms.
“Mom, can you put the worms on the hook?” he asked.
“No, but you can,” I said.
A mom watching us from nearby narrowed her eyes at me and sighed like a martyr. “If you bring your pole over to where I’m standing, I’ll do it,” she said with a frown.
What? Where did she come from? And why was she acting like we were putting her out? The worm was the one putting its life on the line. Literally.
“No, no, we can do it,” I said, meaning he can do it. “Thank you, though.”
So, Richie put a few worms on the hook, which the fish ate without getting caught.
Then I remembered, from back when I was a kid and baiting a hook didn’t make me want to throw up, that you have to sort of tie a knot with the worm and stick it on the hook in more than one place. I figured this was beyond Richie’s age level, so I did it myself.
God, I hate killing worms. When they wriggle around after you stab them through the hook, it makes me feel terrible.
Anyway, the fish still got the worm a few times, but finally, Richie hooked one. He yanked the pole up, and the fish flew through the air. His eyes widened in excitement…and then in disbelief when the fish fell off the hook and back into the water.
But I knew it would be easy to turn that frown upside down.
“That’s okay,” I said. “We would have had to throw it back in anyway. Because it was a baby, and we weren’t going to eat it.”
His eyes lit up. “Yeah, and you would have been too scared to touch it!”
“Yeah!” I said. “So it’s a good thing it jumped off the hook!”
“Yeah!” he agreed.
By the time Richie called his dad to tell him the good news, the story sounded like this:
“I caught a fish today. But we had to throw it back in because it was a baby. And guess what? We didn’t have to throw it back in because it jumped back in!...Yeah, and mom almost threw up!”
Okay, I don’t think that last part had to be characterized in a positive light…but whatever. I may not be an optimist, but watching my son be one is just as good.