What are we fishing for?

Karen Olson Johnson
Published on: September 2013
What is the difference between selfish and selfless? The answer may lie in what we are "fishing" for. Every day, we cast our "fishing" lines out into the vast expanse of the world in which we live. Sometimes the hook comes back empty, our bait having been eaten off, with no catch. Other times we reel in the BIG ONE. What makes for an empty hook at the end of our line? How do we catch the BIG ONE?

Recently, I heard a true story of a couple who were out for dinner at a very fancy restaurant. They had no limit on their spending; they could have ordered anything on the menu. The waiter came to the table and began to rattle off the specials. He said they had an appetizer pizza on the menu this evening with some kind of exotic fish on it and it was priced at... The couple thought they heard nineteen dollars.
He went on to speak of another pizza option with a different kind of fish but, this time they listened harder to what he was saying. This appetizer pizza was priced at NINETY dollars. They both looked at each other in astonishment. Nineteen was bad enough, even for the posh place they were in, but ninety dollars for an appetizer pizza?

They could not believe their ears. The waiter continued to explain a few other items and then left the table to give the diners some time to decide their order.

So, we bait our hooks and throw out our lines. When we reel our catch in, we have hooked a nineteen dollar appetizer pizza. Or, maybe, we have hooked a ninety dollar appetizer pizza. Does it really make a difference which pizza we order? Does it make a difference what we are fishing for?

There was something about a ninety dollar pizza that was just not right. It did not feel right, it felt self-indulgent to order it, let alone eat it. The fish hook on the end of this line was baited, the line was cast, and the catch reeled in. These diners decided that the ninety dollar pizza was no catch. That was "selfishing".

This is the difference between selfish and selfless. Every day is a fishing day, but not every day is a catching day. Sometimes it is better to throw back those selfish ones we catch; sometimes it may be better to not even bait the hook.
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