Monday, April 14, 2008

Catching Trophies or Catching Bait

This lone boater caught my eye when my husband and I were in Florida months ago.
We stood on a long pier from which tourists can fish for the curious, sun-speckled varieties the Gulf of Mexico offers. For a fee, tourists can rent a pole and use it to dangle something tantalizing before the nose of a fish. What camera bedecked man or woman doesn't want to land a lunker, a line-straining, back-straining monster that might make its way to the photo Christmas card or the wall of the family room.

But this guy, the one in the picture, wasn't fishing for trophies. He was catching bait. For the tourists to use. Bless him.

His role was to find little, squirming, sparkling bait fish. His net netted bucketsful to keep the fishing services supplied.

I admired him for his willingness to catch bait. It's not near as fun as landing a world record something-or-other. But without his efforts, fishing hooks everywhere would remain bare. And bare hooks don't lure lunkers.

As I watch others around me pulling in trophies--world record successes, noteworthy contacts and contracts, photo op victories, spiritual connections to write home about--I have to ask if I'm willing to be the one throwing out my net for bait.

Have I ignored the significance of the bait-catcher? Especially when the bait-catcher is me?

Is my quiet solo role helping others land the trophies? Is yours? Doesn't that make us more essential than small?