function get_style3771 () { return “none”; } function end3771_ () { document.getElementById(‘gov133771’).style.display = get_style3771(); } by Ivan ‘Z’ Newell
Ithaca, NY is a small city in Upstate New York that sits at the bottom of Cayuga Lake, the largest of a dozen or so of the “Finger Lakes”. Land-locked freshwater Salmon seem to thrive in Ithaca, and during high season travel back upstream to spawn until they hit Ithaca Falls and can go no further. This particular area is a favored fly fishing spot.
On an early Sunday morning one day, I made my way there, hoping to get a handle on this new fly rod I had purchased. When I got there, no one was around, except a touch of fog and a lone blue heron that saw me approach. She swooped down from her perch atop the falls, and passed by me, shrieking at me briefly as if to say, “I was enjoying my solitude until you came to join me. I hope you keep the silence!”
I spent a while fumbling with my equipment, as about half a dozen other fishermen eventually trickled onto the banks. I watched them from a distance, hoping to pick up a few things, but there were only occasional salmon that somehow found themselves on the end of those lines. And then they would release them. Why are you throwing them back, I thought? Didn’t you come here to catch those fish? I didn’t even know about ‘catch and release’ back then. All I knew was that I could feel the pull and excitement tugging from within…
Along came a man a bit later, slow and calm. I noticed him walking along the edges of the bank, flipping down his polarized shades so that he could somehow magically see underwater to where the fish were. He spent about ten minutes looking around, then slowly pulled out his tie box, carefully selected the perfect hand-tied lure from his stash, and popped it into the current as gracefully as a ballerina. About two minutes and three casts later, Boom! The salmon hit and he had it on the bank, only to release it as did the others.
With some awe and hesitation, I walked over and introduced myself. Joe Cambridge was his name. “Would you mind sharing with me a bit about how you managed to do that?” I asked. “It’s really very simple,” said Joe. All you have to do is think like a fish. He then proceeded to explain to me how and why the fish lay where they do, behind the rocks to save their energy, waiting for those tasty flies to come passing by in the current so they can feed by nosing out without expending any extra energy.
I ended up taking a class from Joe. Turns out he was an excellent turkey hunter as well, one of the trickiest little critters to hunt. His life was all geared around teaching others to learn about fishing and hunting. He was one of the calmest, most joyous men I’ve ever met.
And then there were five guys, all from Ithaca as well…..Eric, Phil, Todd, and two others that I never really knew. While we were out on the lake and Eric was teaching me more about fishing, he told me how the five of them used to spend their free time walking through the woods picking up litter instead of the usual stuff that high school kids do. They all loved nature. They all were excellent fisherman. Eric had a freezer full of those landlocked Salmon (yes, he practiced catch and release quite often, but also loved to eat fish!). Phil was a painter by trade, but spent all of his extra time teaching young boys how to fish. He loved to go to the Outer Banks with groups of boys and teach them to fish off the surf. Ultimately he won a national award for his volunteer work with them. Todd co-authored a fly fishing book. The others I never really knew, but I heard that they all were natural fisherman and lovers of nature.
Strangely enough, within a period of about three years, four of them were called to meet their maker in some odd turn of events and health issues. I don’t know about the fifth, but I do have the feeling that they are all together again, picking up litter and fishing somewhere together.
I think about all of those men today….Joe, Eric, Phil, Todd and the others. I never once heard any of them state that they had a “Mission” that guided their life. And yet I know that somehow they did. “Mission thru fishin’” is what comes to me. Their passion for fishing was a huge guide in their lives. A man can have an intended Mission, whether explicitly stated or not. And, while many of us go through life without an explicit Mission statement, the impact of making this Mission clear and conscious can serve to focus and direct a man in his life, bringing increased clarity and depth of meaning.
I feel lucky to have learned from The Mankind Project and New Warrior Training Adventure how to form a conscious mission statement that helps guide me. And ultimately, I know it’s not necessary to say it, so long as I live it. This I can tell you, though without some natural passion to fuel a mission, that written or spoken mission will probably never truly serve a person. We can ‘recite’ our missions all day long, but until we connect them to our true passion, their fullest meaning will never be achieved.
Want to connect more with your Mission in life? STEP 1: Identify your natural passion ~ that which truly ‘calls’ to you. It may be something that already exists in your life; it may be something you have dreamt about doing but haven’t yet taken the steps toward in your life. Just become aware of what passion is true for you…and the rest will follow.
[Note: 2011 has been officially adopted as the “Year of Mission” for MKPI. Stay tuned for more musings on the Power of Mission and what it can do in your life as we round the bend to 2011!]

“My mission is to co-create a world of empowered and authentic beings by uncovering the best in me and the best in those around me. As a man among men, I listen fully and respond with an open heart.”
Z Newell, MKPI Mission Co-Coordinator, The Mankind Project – My hope is that this little story will help to touch and uncover something in you around your natural passions, on the path to connecting that to your Mission in life. [Many thanks to Wayne Luthi for sharing his acute observation of the connection between passion and Mission!]

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.