Chase v. Catch

Watching the boys fishing for hippies at the Winnipeg Folk Festival campground puts me in mind of the chase and the catch, and what unlikely hunters and prey we find ourselves so often to be…

I guess you could say that I am a big “catch” guy. Chasing dreams or girls or small animals is fun and it teaches you plenty about life, and how you’ll respond to lots of different situations. But it’s what happens after you actually catch something or someone that I find to be the most truly interesting, inspiring and vital part of it all.

I remember moving from Thompson, Manitoba to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia just before my thirteenth birthday. I’d been kind of a big deal in primary school in northern Manitoba but in the Middle East I was small potatoes. Somehow my eight track collection, my lumber shirts and wide leg jeans just didn’t impress anybody anymore.

I tried hard to get with the in crowd, doing my best to buddy up with boys from Beirut and Boston. I fancied myself a basketball player, and took a shot at the team, but the best dribbling I ever did was the nosebleed I got from getting a ball in the face. And girls? Blonde-haired beauties from Alabama and raven-eyed Greek goddesses? They wouldn’t have given me so much as a sympathetic glance even if that basketball had taken my whole head clean off. In the end, the only friend I was able to really make was an East Indian kid from Mississauga, whose enormous hooked nose earned him the nickname Picklestabber.

Though Picklestabber and I got along great and had lots of laughs about how stupid it was trying to be friends with a bunch of snobs, I still secretly wanted desperately to be friends with those stylish Americans and their Chuck Taylor runners and feathered hairstyles. For some reason, that world seemed so much bigger and better than mine.

A funny thing happened along the way of chasing that dream, though. I realized that guys like Picklestabber (his real name was Ramon), had a lot more going for them than so-called popular people. Ramon really wasn’t chasing anything. No, let me rephrase that. Ramon was chasing something alright, but not the way other people were. Ramon wasn’t seeking approval from others, he was chasing his own sense of acceptance. He just wanted to each day appreciate a little more what little he had.

Looking back now, and thinking about what a simply, beautifully wise man Ramon was, and how he must surely have grown up to be even more so, I realize that he was a valuable catch for me. I would’ve never thought of him as someone I’d been searching for, but in retrospect, he was a huge part of how I learned what mattered most to me in life. I learned that real beauty isn’t what we wish for - it’s what we discover.

If you ever manage to take a moment from chasing whatever it is you’re looking for in this world, take that moment to take a good look at something else. Chances are, you’ll see that what we think we chase, we rarely catch. Yet, what we need to catch, we rarely chase.