As we reflected during tonight’s discussion, we discussed the idea of the differences between Guanaja and the US. One frequent topic was the idea of materialism, greed, and selfishness. We discussed how one problem in America is how people are too often focused on themselves, ascending the corporate, social, and financial ladders, and acquiring more things with the hope that this will some how make them happier and more fulfilled. I feel as if this idea of selfishness is not only present in our normal lives but in fishing as well. So often people are too focused on themselves and their own pursuits. As Steve Brown said in the film Beyond the Horizon, “We have the privilege to travel to these far off places and yet all we focus on is ourselves. We catch a fish and take a picture and say, “Look at me, look at how great I am.” Let’s focus on the bigger picture… not the one we’re hanging up on out wall but the one we’re leaving behind, how we’re changing people’s lives an making the world a better place. That’s fish for change.”
In contrast, here in Guanaja, as well as the other Central and South American countries I have visited such as Chile, Cuba, and Costa Rica, the people are so much happier. By our standards they have nothing; they live in shacks, oftentimes without water or electricity, they lack resources, opportunity, jobs, and education, and yet these people are consistently so happy. I think Will summed it up best when he said that it all boils down to one thing: gratitude. These people are thankful for everything they have. They are thankful for their families, they are thankful for each meal that they eat.
I was further reminded of this the other night when I watched Beyond the Horizon for the fourth or fifth time. In it, when Rankin is stepping out onto the Faraways, he remarks about his past life versus his life now. “When I think about what I used to do here and what I do now, my knee shakes man. Every night I get to sleep with my boys. I wake up in the morning, I kiss them on the face, and I go to work. I come home at the end of the day, we play a little soccer, and I go to bed and do it all over again. No enemies, I don’t owe anybody, I only owe God my life. Unbelievable how fly-fish changes bro.” I thought this perfectly represented this idea of gratitude, and how in these people’s lives, it’s the small things, the important things, the thing we often forget about, that truly matter.