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Fishing is a love of mine. I was fortunate as a child to have spent many years living in a home on the Magothy River, which is a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, in Arnold, Maryland. I fished everyday from the ages of eight to eighteen, and still get the same joy from fishing today as I got as a kid. During college I met Scott Walker, who would become one of my very best friends from that time forward. Scott also loves to fish. All through our years of college, I heard stories about Scott’s family’s “camp” in Canada and how great the fishing was there.

Now, when I was a young angler, I use to read magazines and watch shows about how spectacular the fishing was in Canada. One particular fish that I learned about was called a Northern Pike. This beautiful creature can grow to as much as five feet long and is the big brother species to a fish I loved to fish for called a Pickerel. I salivated at the idea of one day getting to catch the great Northern Pike. However, growing up in a household of extremely modest means, we seldom traveled more than a few hours away, and I never believed for one second that I would ever get to a place as far away as Canada, much less get the chance to actually fish there.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when one day in the fall of 1987 I finally arrived at the Walker Camp in Ontario, Canada to do some fishing. The place was incredible! I had that same excited feeling I got when I was a kid and it was Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to go fishing. Some of the other fine fellows who were with us had already commandeered the row boat and ventured out onto the lake, so Scott and I grabbed the canoe that was sitting beside the cottage, carried it down to the dock, and set it in the water.

We then meticulously loaded the canoe with our fishing rods, tackle boxes, life jackets, paddles, net (with which to scoop up our undoubtedly large catches), and our cooler. We were ready! We were giving each other high-fives and laughing, and we absolutely could not wait to get out onto the lake. We then climbed carefully into the canoe and got ourselves situated while we held on to the dock. With smiles on our faces we excitedly pushed off from the dock to begin our fishing extravaganza…and proceeded to immediately flip over, sending all of our gear to the bottom of the lake.

The canoe has many lessons it can teach us about balance as it relates to ourselves and our interaction with our environment and circumstances.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word balance as: “to bring to equilibrium.” It would follow then that having balance in one’s life would mean to have personal equilibrium. That would mean a person could not be weighted too much in any one direction. The canoe has many lessons it can teach us about balance as it relates to ourselves and our interaction with our environment and circumstances. If I am in a canoe and I am sitting peacefully in the center and paddling across a quiet, calm lake, the canoe is balanced. If a motorboat goes roaring by and the waves from its wake cause my canoe to rock, as long as I stay centered and peaceful, I’m okay with the boat rocking. By staying centered despite my environment, I remain in balance. If, however, there are no waves from a passing boat and I shift my weight too quickly to the left or right in my canoe, I will lose balance and my canoe will flip over and send me for an undesired swim, as my buddy Scott and I found out so many years ago. The lesson to learn from this illustration is that when my environment changed, I could stay balanced. It is during my shift that my balance can be lost.

One of the greatest certainties in life is that our environment (circumstances) will always be shifting and changing. If I were back in my canoe and the waves came and I moved at the same time, I could flip even faster than I would flip without the waves. Actually, without waves, I might be able to regain my balance and right my little ship without going for a swim. With the waves however, there is little hope that I stay dry once I’ve initially lost my balance.

“One of the greatest certainties in life is that our environment (circumstances) will always be shifting and changing.”

This is the beginning of Chapter One from my book “Live Full, Live Well” (avialable at www.balanceprofessor.com). To be continued tomorrow…


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