Well today is the last day of the “Every Day in May” challenge, a blog fest of sore fingers and worn keyboards, tendonitis of the wrist and incessant lumbar pain, the final assignment to write on Achievement, pretty clever subject matter at this juncture and you have to take your hats off to the boys at “How Small a Trout” for dreaming that one up.
So obviously I suppose we are all figuring that we have achieved something in staying the course, although I have to confess that I only came on board half way through the month so those who managed to maintain the flow for a full 31 days, well I salute your achievement I really do.
But in thinking, and to quote Bricktop in the movie Snatch “What’ve I told you about thinking Errol?” What really is an achievement?
Achievements are to start with inherently personal, sure someone else may notice and nice if they do but really it is something of import primarily to oneself, the measure of the struggle more than likely lost on anyone not intimately involved. When you were two years old it was probably something of an achievement not to piss your pants, I don’t suppose that most us would consider that much to crow about, although as we progress towards senility its allure may come once again more sharply into focus.
Then achievements are paradoxically both transient in nature and permanent at the same time. They hold all abiding tenure on your waking hours whilst you are working towards them and drift rapidly from import once achieved. I have a drawer full of certificates ranging from crisp parchments from academic institutions to records of local cycle races, I have images of fish caught and letters of attendance from World Championship events, a tick list of rock climbs completed and hikes done. Not a single one can ever be taken away, they are a matter of record, milestones of my history on the planet and yet equally they each in turn become replaced by the next goal or target and fade from memory.
So what are achievements really? Just pencil marks on the wall of your lifetime growth stepping stones to what you will ultimately become and you will never finish. In fact it strikes me that the most pleasurable things in life have a number of shared qualities. Be it rock climbing, fishing, cycling, golf or blogging.
Firstly they should be for the most part entirely pointless, what is the point in climbing up a mountain, risking life and limb only to be lowered down on completion? Where is the value in hitting a little white ball around a manicured lawn with holes in it? Why cycle over three hills when one will do or go out and catch fish without so much as intent to do more than carefully release it after capture? Indeed what is the point of writing daily on subjects designated by people you have never met and put out there, hopefully for the pleasure of others you will never meet? These activities don’t bring us money or food and yet for many these are the things that bring most joy and perhaps it is that very pointlessness that makes it so, it doesn’t matter if you don’t achieve your goal, at least not in any material sense. You can catch fish or not and have a great day, at least up to a point. Catching a fish or holing a putt, Red Pointing a climbing route makes no measurable difference to your life other than that sense that you achieved something. However most of us would still agree that the struggle, the discipline and the sense of value that comes from such endeavour is immeasurably valuable, if only to ourselves..
There is to my mind a second shared tendency to the most enjoyable things, the fact that they are endless. You will never hole every putt, catch every fish or climb every mountain and more to the point you know that before you even start. There will always be illusive and unachievable limits beyond us, always more words to write, more routes to climb, more fish to catch.
So I would put it to you that the achievement isn’t really of value, it is a measure of course, a Post-It Note on the calendar of your life but it isn’t important. What is important is that you worked towards it and can now move on to the next target. Indeed it isn’t the target, it is the struggle for it which makes us hopefully better people. Your final achievement, and in some ways the most important may very well be something of which you will remain eternally unaware. Your eulogy, what people say of you once you have passed on, if they say, “he was an honest fellow, of good humour and grace, an educator and father, a wonderful husband or a great angler, a wit, an athlete.” If they simply weep at your loss, and reminisce on your life, going back over those ticks on the wall and the notes on your calendar then perhaps that is really an achievement, and like all the other ones, it won’t make any difference to anyone but a small band of the personally involved.
Finally: Not only does this piece represent the final chapter in the “Every Day In May Challenge” but rather bizarrely and completely unplanned it is also the 100th post on the fishing gene blog. I don’t suppose most of the first ten were up to much but trust that I am getting better at it as time goes on.
Thank you to all those who have read and followed, who have commented and provided feedback and particularly those who have subscribed to keep in touch with the rather random musings of a piscatorial mind.
Plus of course thanks to the people at “How Small a Trout” who provided the springboard for this sudden blog fest which has assisted me in achieving this milestone and to Gary at Switters B who runs an excellent blog and is kind enough still to direct anglers to others of interest, on occasion this one.
I am going to take a bit of a break, but I am sure that I shall feel the call of the keyboard before too long and hell I am off fishing on Sunday so should have more tales to tell in due course. I am also considering attempting the assignments missed due to my late start in the challenge so you may still get some of the every day in May in June.. Well if Mayflies can hatch in June why can’t May blogs be posted in June? It is a fair question I suppose.