It’s okay if you don’t catch a fish

I recently found myself watching an episode of Life Below Zero

It’s a fascinating documentary-type series that takes you behind-the-scenes of life in Alaska.

The show follows a few different families and intrepid loners, showing their day-to-day life, and how they manage through the “Dark Winter” (so Game of Thrones, right?). I couldn’t peel my eyes away from it.

One guy absolutely fascinated me; he lives completely solo in a little home (hut?) in the middle of somewhere in Alaska. He only eats the meat he hunts and catches. He spends most of his time by himself, gazing at the mountains, hunting and finding food, and going wherever there may be some activity. (Like the time he followed a pack of wolves, just for fun.)

Something he said in last night’s episode really got me thinking. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said in Western society we’re so used to getting what we want, when we want it, that we find it hard to be patient.

Case in point: he dropped 15 fishing lines down into the ice (after using an ice-pick to create the holes), which he left overnight. Day after day he came back to the 15 fishing holes, re-cracked open the ice, checked his lines, and found no fish.

Day. After. Day.

No fish.

But … he was cool with it.

He didn’t stress, or rant, or rave. He just knew he might not get fish, and that was okay with him. Even though last winter, he caught fish at the same time of year, in the same spot. Even though the winter before that, he caught fish at the same time of year, in the same spot.

Even though he put so much work into it, and expended much more energy trying to catch the fish than he was bound to get if he even caught one fish.

He had fully, totally, completely surrendered to the fact that he couldn’t control the outcome.

He could show up, and do the work, and be present. He could come back the next day, show up, do the work, and be present.

But he wasn’t expecting an outcome. And he was cool with it. (Albeit, perhaps a little hungry.)

Of course, he’d have been thrilled if he caught some fish. But he didn’t catch a thing.

So what did he do?

Did he go home and cry, rant, rave, stay stuck in disappointment for days or weeks on end? Did he wonder what he’d done wrong, and think the whole world was against him? Did he swear he’d never try to catch fish again?


After a few days, he packed up his fishing lines.

He let his fishing holes freeze over.

And he went to hunt some moose.

Imagine if we were also “just cool” with things not turning out the way we wanted them to?

Imagine if we didn’t have expectations, but allowed ourselves to be pleasantly surprised? To move with what shows up for us, but to still always show up, do the work, and be present.

Even if things don’t turn out the way we “wanted” them to. Even if we’re not really pleasantly surprised. Even if we want to think the whole world is against us. (It’s not.)

Even if … 

Even if … 

Even if …

Let’s not imagine.

Let’s just do that. Let’s be cool.

Alaskan cool.

You with me?




I’m Cassie Mendoza-Jones

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