Just Sitting

SittingHead

“Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits”. There is wisdom in the classic quotation from AA Milne the man who brought us all the joyous tales of Winnie-the-Pooh :.

Just sitting is something of a lost art, it seems, in this pressurised and hurried life we lead that one should be “doing something” as though “just sitting” is the equivalent of doing nothing but sitting is doing something and more to the point can prove remarkably productive if you will only give yourself the time.

Perhaps the ability to sit is a sign of some degree of maturity, I mean a three year old is rarely still, but it has to be said that there aren’t any three year olds who have come up with an invention like the wheel or mastered quantum mechanics either. It is all well and good being busy, or for that matter cultivating that wondrous urban skill of “looking busy”, but does it achieve as much as one might hope? Just sitting is an activity, it is an art, just sitting takes practise to do well. Just sitting is a bit easier if you have a book, a drink, a cigarette or perhaps best of all a tobacco pipe, but just sitting should be cultivated. You see there is stuff in the universe that moves to it’s own sweet rhythm, you can’t force it or hurry it, sometimes you need to just sit and wait for it.

Actually the world is going fast enough already, at the equator you are spinning at 1675 Km/hr, which makes “just sitting” a pretty frentic pursuit when you get right down to it. There is some bizarre comfort in the idea that the “busy” guy who is racing due west at the speed limit is actually, at least in distance terms, achieving less that you are whilst resting on your bottom.

It just so happens that this coming weekend the town or Rhodes, or as it fondly known by many anglers “The Centre of the Universe”, hosts the world’s first ever “Stoepsitfees”. (For those not in the know, that is Afrikaans for Porch Sitting Festival). The idea is that you just sit, well actually the idea is that you can try to knit a woollen square if you wish which will be joined to other woollen squares to create a blanket or two for the needy, but I don’t expect the knitting is really the thing. The thing is to savour the time, the scenery and of course the neighbours. You can’t just sit, you should wander a little, chew the fat, get to know people and slow down. As Dave Walker (Rhodes most practised Stoepsitter) puts it, it is a case of “Ready, Steady, Sit”.

DaveWalker

Accomplished “Stoepsitter” Dave Walker at “Walkerbouts”  in rare ambulatory pose, with stalwart
hostess Penelope Watson.

(image courtesy of Ed Herbst and Tom Sutcliffe)

I still have a bit too much three year old in me to just sit for an entire weekend but the point isn’t lost, we should sit a while on occasion, it can be frightfully enlightening.

Not long ago I was with clients on a local stream, it was warm and approaching lunchtime so we found a convenient boulder in the shade of a tree and ate lunch with our feet still immersed in the cool amber flow of the stream. We watched the water for signs of fish, chatted aimlessly about fishing, life and such, as one does and the client then looked up at the rocky hillside and asked “What are those?”.. “Those” turned out to be two klipspringer, a local buck its name literally translated to “Rock Jumper”. They are incredibly agile creatures, able to run up and down near sheer sandstone cliffs with gay abandon, they are also generally rather shy.

Klipspringer

The shy Klipspringer, if you want to see them it behooves you to be still.

“Do you see many of them?” enquired the client, to which I was forced to reply “No very rarely, when I am on the river I never look up”. That is a sad indictment really, certainly I make a living from taking people fishing and I need to have my eye on the water, but still, we spend our time in the most magnificent scenery, a backdrop of majestic mountains, eagles soar overhead, dragonflies dance over the water, shimmering metallic attack helicopters chasing down lunch.

The river is never still, insects hatch and baboons drop in for a visit now and then. It is all really rather too good to miss by being overly focused on the fishing. But as we sat and watched the klipspringer come down to the water I became aware of a dimple on the surface of the pool, then another. Whilst we had sat quietly watching the natural world around us a trout had started to feed. By being still and quiet and just giving it time we now had our quarry in sight. It was obvious that had we rushed on we would have missed the chance and ultimately we had a fish in the net.

Then last week a similar occurrence, fishing away my colleague got a nasty tangle and so we set about sorting through the mess. By the time we had untangled the 7x macramé basket that had previously been a tapered leader and tippet a fish started to rise, right under the rod tip. A careful cast and the prize was ours, were it not for that tangle it would have been another chance gone begging.

When you stop for a while the most amazing things happen, and right now with the water in the rivers at a mid-summer low, the fish skittish after months of catch and release angling  and the sun high and bright in an azure sky, some quiet contemplation can pay dividends.  By taking the time to be still one can actually be more effective than by rushing about, you get to enjoy your day, see more of the natural world, wonder at its complexity and beauty and still catch as many or more fish than you would have.

This sitting lark is remarkably difficult to get into to start with, it takes some considerable self-control, but once you have witnessed the benefits, and convinced yourself that “just sitting” is actually “doing something” you will likely find that you are on to a real winner of a strategy.

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3 Responses to “Just Sitting”

  1. Gavin Urquhart Says:

    Hi, Tim

    One of my favourite quotations (admittedly from my childhood, long long ago). I always enjoy the blog. Thank you

    Gavin Urquhart

    The Staghaven Trust

    Phone: +27 (21) 674-3821

    Cell: +27 (82) 881-3986

    Fax: +27 (21) 671-2537

    e-mail: gau@staghaven.co.za

    This e-mail is intended for the confidential use of the intended recipient only. Please therefore note that any review, distribution, or copying or this e-mail is strictly prohibited if you are not that intended recipient. If you have received it in error please desist from reading it and notify us, at the e-mail address given, of the error.

  2. SwittersB Says:

    I did my part this past weekend, just sitting.

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