Wherever there are lakes or rivers, there seems to be fisherpeople. Hundreds of different approaches: body positions, casting, trawling, trolling, fly, drag, float, boat, shore, wading, …
One of the many things that seems to be consistent, besides the line and the hook, are knots in the line. However, the approaches to those are as unique as approaches to god. My personal approach when I fished ( If one could call it that.) as a child with my father and brother, and created a knot in the line, was to cut the line above the knot and start again or throw the pole and all down and walk away. I have had little patience in this life and FISHING IS AN ART OF PATIENCE.
As I sat on the edge Rimrock Lake I observed an older boy who was trolling in the windy white-cap-saturated lake, with a sparkling lure. Over and over casting the line out and reeling it in, with no fish caught and for much of the time I sat absorbed in the rhythm. At one point his line hit the inevitable snag and he artfully dislodged it with some wand waving technique of the pole. Retrieving the line, it was apparent that there were several twisted knots in it . At this point I would have cut the line, freed the lure and hook and retied them or, wound the whole mess up and given up for the day.
Without missing a beat the boy wound the line in by hand and began to let the glistening, silver, spinner lure twirl like a knitting drop needle until he had untwisted some portion of it. Then deftly, not methodically or laboriously, he loosened the knots one by one by expanding the line with his broad hand like a puppeteer, while the lure danced like a marionette. Dropping, spinning, looping, without a skipped beat or pause as if he knew the exact path that the line had taken to become so knotted. No overflow of tension in his body or face, which had taken on a sublime repose like the Buddha observing the dance and release of compounded human suffering. And then, and then… Free. The line was free of knots and, without stopping to relish his success, he reeled the line in and cast out again, and again, and again.
I think of my own knots. How contracted I become around them; how I often tug at the ends in a desperate attempt to undo them, how I find blame for the knot somewhere other than here, how I impatiently cut the knot away and everything related to it, sever it from any connection to me and cast it aside to litter the charnel ground of my memories.
There’s a pile there, of discarded knots, of knots that are too tight to loosen, attached to threads leading to my soul, of knots buried deep in the carcasses of pain, loss, regret, knots connected to longing and unfulfilled desire, and newer knots of self doubt, and fear of judgment and faltering courage.
But now I have met a teacher, who has shown me, given me perspective and objectivity. He has reminded me how to make space, to open up, to ease the knot from the grip of fear, regret, and attachment. To dance with the knot and, like a puppeteer with their marionette, to let the knot tell its own story. He has shown me how to bathe the knot in the clarity of seeing things just as they are. To let the thoughts about the knots, and the fear of some imagined prosecutor of my failures, or the diminishment of the aggrandized self… free. He has taught me to let the knots dance their dance and to just attend to their swirling and undoing with deft and light hands; to see the beauty and the paths of the unwinding, and be awe-full of their undoing.
I am not the master puppeteer of the knots that my teacher is, but I can begin to see the space between the enfoldment of the strings. As I surround them with spaciousness and joy brought about by this precious opportunity to notice, reflect and join the dance, I begin to be able to see how the threads weave and how to attend to them without any expectation of when, or even if, they will unravel. I see the unending paths that dance to the songs of time, and regret, and hope, and doubt, and fear and courage. And for a moment I am free. For an infinite instant, I am a knot undone.
I dedicate this journey to all teachers seen and unseen, heard and unheard, known and unknown. May all of my dees, actions, words, thoughts and feelings bee in fulfillment of their teaching and the end of suffering.