I believe in fish. I believe that few things are as elegant as their sinuous carvings through the blue, small jetties twisting outward off their caudal fin. Drifting sea horses and lightning-fast swordfish, carpet sharks that look more like the doormat at your granny’s than a fish. Mudskippers, darters, moa-moas, electric eels; an infinite collection of forms and shapes and lives and sizes that make me believe in fishes.
I used to pray for fishes. The night before fishing trips with my dad I would lie awake in bed, praying for God to deliver me a lunker. I still dream about fish. At 12 I got my scuba license so I could swim with them. When I was 14 my dad took me to the Keys. On a sunny day in 40 ft of water, the reef’s landscape went dreary as a cloud-shaped fish eclipsed the sun. It was a manta ray, and its massive form was playing with our tiny bubbles. As the light was concealed, I became very calm, very focused, and in awe of these winged giants. From then on I knew I wanted to be a fish.
I Dream About Fish
Several times a week I dream about fishes. Sometimes I’m catching them, sometimes I’m swimming with them, and sometimes I am one. Last night I dreamt that I was fishing with a friend when I got a bite. My bait was taken by a blood-red, bloated monster of a stingray. My friend and I both tugged as hard as we could, then like a slingshot the huge crimson saucer erupted from the water and flew Frisbee style hundreds of feet behind us. Dreams like this are not unusual for me.
I like pan-fried perch, trout on a stick, baked black-cod, striped marlin in garlic butter, deep-fried catfish, and barbecue barracuda. I like cooking fish right after catching them, preferably in a campfire on the banks of a lake or a beach. When I was in Australia I caught four months’ worth of reef fish on one trip. All semester I cooked fish for my friends; we rolled sushi and stuffed onions in the mouths of pig-sized nannagais.
The Wisdom of Fish
It’s as simple as the soft ripples in the wake of a tuna. The philosophy of fishes is deep, and almost always just as cliché. “Just keep on swimming” or “swimming against the current” or “if you give a man a fish…” But for me, fish just represent the simple pleasures of life and the brilliance of nature.
I think I will become a fisherman. Maybe find myself a beachside cabana with a garden, where I can live out my days in peace until my inevitable death and – if I’m lucky – I am reborn as a fish.