I spent a cold, dark, mosquito-bitten, lonely couple of hours fishing (as opposed to fish-catching) the other night, and as I hauled in yet another empty hook, bereft of catch and bait, I wondered why on earth I was bothering. I could have been watching The Bachelor. Just when my line and my patience were tangled beyond hope, the overcast cleared, and not only did the Southern Cross appear, but it was reflected in a flat calm sea, and I saw it mirrored in wondrous symmetry above and below the horizon.
It struck me that I wasn’t out here for the fish. I was out here for the spectacle, and it reminded me of the times upon times that I have found myself in grey circumstances, only to see gems most unexpected and fair.
For example … (and obviously, in order to protect the innocent, and the not so much so, I won’t give specific details of time and place) … there was the dreary family 21st. The MC is trying to encourage us to dance, we who would class dancing as slightly below dental surgery; Stephen (clearly not his real name) clearly came pre-loaded, is talking loudly and insists on swaying into my personal space; Uncle Stan won’t talk to Aunty Margaret or anyone else in her section of the family; cousin twice removed, who hadn’t been invited anyway, is swearing like an online troll; and one would rather be at home (watching the Bachelor) anyway. (Or even the Chiefs.) When you find yourself on the outside deck with a paper plate of dry crackers and lettuce stalks, talking to a fellow escapee, who turns out to have a fascinating persona inspired by an inspiring life story. You find you have much in common with this charming person, who seems to enjoy your sense of humour, and you talk for an hour on enlightening topics punctuated by heady witticisms.
Joy unbounded. Like stars in the night, reflected on the sea. Like a bellbird in the back yard tree on a damp autumn afternoon. Like a $5 petrol voucher at a high-priced petrol station. Like a melody in the second movement, following a tuneless and cacophonous first movement. Like a grandchild’s laughter on a day of sad thoughts and memories. Like a kind word after a cruel rejection from someone else. Like a smile from a stranger. Like a … (add, here, your own simile).
Gems are always possible, no matter how grey the setting or the occasion. Go into these inauspicious occasions with eyes open. Expect gems. You’ll find them if you know how to look. Expect to be disappointed … you will be. Expect to be surprised by joy … you will be. Expect to hate the party … you will. But look expectantly for the overcast to clear and the stars to emerge …
The fish might even come to play.