Monday, April 27, 2009

The Biggest Fish Metaphor Ever Created

EDITED to add: I know it's an analogy, not a metaphor. Not sure why I make that mistake so often, even though I went to a great public school. OH THE IRONY.

So, there was this lake. Great spot, lots of fish.

All of the parents and children would gather upon its shore to test the waters and exclaim over the variety of fish they would catch. Some days, the kids would reel in tons of marine life: catfish, turtles, bass, walleye... Some days, they would go home empty-handed, but happy from the fresh air and chance to try new lures.

As people began to notice this lake's abundance of fish, more families would gather together on its sandy banks. Soon, the "good" fishing spots became a bit crowded. Many times, hours would be spent untangling one line from another, unsnagging hooks, and anxiously waiting for a good bite that never came.

Some families moved to new fishing spots. But many found that moving to a new spot wasn't suitable for their footwear. Not all banks are sandy and rock-free, you know!

One mother looked at her children and said,

"This fishing spot is still lovely. The view is pleasing and the water is filled with interesting water life. But my children only catch a few fish a day. Sometimes, they come home empty-handed! We can see the fish in the water, but it's hard to cast when so many are throwing their lines beside you."

She was concerned. She could see that they were becoming discouraged over their lack of bites. If they didn't fish, what would they eat? If they didn't learn to fish properly, how would they know to feed themselves as adults?

Day after day, she pondered the situation. They tried to change position on the shore. Perhaps a new fishing pole? A new reel? What could help her children catch their share of the abundant fish?

One morning, her child cast his line so far out that his pole slipped out of his hand and began to float down the shoreline! The mother frantically scrambled over rocks and brambles, chasing the pole on its path into uncharted territory. The pole snagged upon a stump, allowing her to snatch it up from the water. Exhausted, she blew the hair from her eyes and looked around at the new surroundings.

She was standing beside a dock. This dock stretched far into the lake. Tethered to the dock were a variety of boats. She watched in wonder as these boats paddled in and out and noticed something she had never considered; they were fishing from the boats! They were leaving the shore in small groups, looking for the fish! If the fish weren't by the shore or dock, the families with the boats simply tried a new spot! And the most amazing thing was that the children were smiling in the wind and helping to paddle the boat! They were learning to love to fish!!

"How can I do this, too?!?" she wondered. "Is it difficult? Do I need a special license or is this something that only the incredibly rich and privileged can attempt?"

Her surprise was unimaginable when she found her answer; Anyone can fish from a boat. All you need is the courage!

Was she brave enough, though? There was the harder question...

The boats seemed so far out in the lake. Was she strong enough to paddle that far? She then remembered that the children were all helping. No parent paddled alone...

The lake was so big! How could she cover the entire lake and help her children catch every single type of fish available? She then remembered that the crowded lake shore provided no more diversity than her own boat would provide. In fact, her children might be able to catch MORE fish, simply because the competition for each fish's attention would be less when there were fewer lures to look at.

The boats were all alone, though. Wouldn't her children get lonely, so separated from the other people on the shore? She then watched in amazement as the boats gathered upon the lake; showing each other their catches and sharing the best fishing spots. At the dock, more boats pulled in for the day, exuberantly holding up their fish and laughing as the children ran off to play. No more fishing was needed that day! Their families had caught their limit!

Determined, the mother raced back to her children. She would make this work! A new way to fish! A new method to help them love not only the fish they caught but also the process in which to FIND them!! How marvelous! Surely everyone would feel the same way about her discovery!!

The mother and her children began to go boating together. Not wanting to push them too fast, too soon, she encouraged them to learn the ways of boating before focusing on actually catching any new fish. They would throw their poles into the water everyday, and be thrilled with their ordinary bass and perch, because paddling together was definitely an effort. Some days, they needed to return to the dock early. The sun was too hot or the boat had a slow leak that needed patching. But everyday, they faithfully returned to the boat, for the enjoyment they had from the time spent together was too great to abandon for the simplicity of the crowded banks.

Gradually, the mother began to notice small miracles; The boat was springing fewer leaks. Bigger fish were being caught. Her children were leading her to spots that she hadn't even considered to fish in. New species of aquatic animals were making themselves known to the entire family. Even SHE was learning to love to fish!

Others upon the banks were too far away to see the joy that the boat was bringing the family. Not willing or able to take even a short boat ride, they turned their heads in disgust over the leaks and windburn, the choppy waves and strange coves the family was exploring. When the mother would grumble about needing another new paddle to replace the one her child had lost in the lake, the shore fishermen would demand that she give up and "give into reason" by returning to the banks. "After all," they declared, "There is only one way to properly fish."


I am here to tell you that there is more than one way to fish. I am here to tell you that a leaky boat or choppy water isn't a reason to abandon your boat.

Personally? I never enjoyed shore fishing. I mean, it's okay, but I always get snagged on the plant life and there tends to be lots of pop cans littered on the banks. When I'm on a boat, though? I don't even CARE how many fish I catch! I have fun just enjoying the ride!!


  1. What a lovely tale! Very nice story, indeed.

    You are a wise one ;)

  2. EXCELLENT analogy. I will be passing this link along to my homeschooling friend!

  3. We're considering setting sail in our own little boat.

  4. don't mention what was the father doing whilst mother and children were fishing for bacon? doesn't like to fish? aquaphobia? aj

  5. I'm thinking the father was a fisherman on the shore saying that the boat wasn't a good idea....

  6. very cute! Hi Im Jen...thanks for stopping by my blog the other day. Ill definitely have to stop by and add you to my reading list.;)

  7. Great analogy! Sadly, there are an awful lot of people who are too afraid to try boating. Luckily, that leaves lots of open water for those of us that aren't.

  8. Lovely analogy!
    We;ve really been considering homeschooling too. Hmmm....

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  10. Nice analogy! I especially like it b/c we are a fishing family. Good for you.

  11. What a great analogy! I prefer boat fishing myself but I still give you great kudos for doing the home schooling. GO TRACEY!

  12. This is great.
    We are getting really fit ourselves from all that paddling ;-). But we can hear whispers from the shore. "If they don't give up that strange boat fishing, her child won't be able to stand on shore ever again. He will have to spend the rest of his life on a boat. Poor thing".

  13. A wonderful story! Thank you!

  14. Fantastic analogy. I just found your blogs about a week ago. I am a school-at-home mom of 3 (8, 6 and 3) and am looking at continuing my quest to convince my husband that fishing from a boat using my own compass is not as scary as it seems. I love having the kids at home even if some days I want to run away and hide!

  15. That is one great story - many truths in it.

    As someone who has always looked to the horizon and then followed it wherever it took me (how else do you think I ended up in Poland, married with 2 kids??) I can heartily agree: there is more than ONE way to live! Ummm. I mean fish!

  16. I was homeschooled till the 4th grade. My mom had all of us at home. True story, when I was tested to be place in school, I tested 3 grades above my peers. And my mother only sat us down once a week for "formal" schooling. The rest of the time we played outside and visited museums etc.

    Yeah for you!

  17. I love this. Thanks for the encouragement to keep going out in the boat.

  18. This is beautiful. I am so glad Theresa linked it at today's post for Three Thinking Mothers.

  19. Such a creative analogy! So glad that we had the courage to set off in our boat :)