An old man went out to fish. He was seen as a failure because he’d not caught anything for quite a time. On his fishing trip he caught a big fish, so big he struggled with it for days. Finally, he arrived back home with the carcass of the big fish because sharks nipped away at it every day the old man struggled with the fish on the line. He exited the boat, lugged himself inside, and slept. He caught a big fish but returned with nothing but bones.
The sea held struggle for the old man. It was also the place where he could reverse his own fortune. Though he did not succeed at bringing in the fish, or any fish beyond the carcass he dragged in, he succeeded at being diligent at his life’s work no matter the outcome. This reminds us to enter the struggle of our life’s work diligently. We do our work and succeed because we’ve shown an ability to do our work all the while we endure hunger and thirst, an angry sea whips about, people about our misfortune, and hungry sharks chomp at our dreams.
Even if life’s outcomes don’t match the efforts still make the effort. Why? Perseverance is a reward itself. The old man had no luck fishing but that never not deterred him from casting his net.
The old man lives with me daily as a reminder. When the school year drags on. When I feel I am making parenting mistakes. When I become weary of life. The old man reminds me to get into the boat and get out in that sea.