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Little fish

This article, by Justin Baiocchi, was originally published in The Northern Daily Leader on 20 June 2015.

In my university days a friend and I decided to take up fishing as our preferred form of recreation. If it was a warm sunny day, rather than driving to campus we’d occasionally throw the rods in the back of the car and head for one of our preferred fishing spots. We’d then spend half the day sitting on the rocks sharing a six-pack of beer and lazily hanging a line in the water. In that peculiar manner of men whenever they congregate, we seldom spoke and when we did it was usually restricted to a discussion over who might be the best five-eighth in world rugby, or who would make up our dream international test cricket team. It’s not that we were even particularly good at fishing, in fact we seldom caught any fish at all. Our friends used to joke that we were really trying to replenish the world’s depleted fish stocks through feeding as much bait to the fish as was possible. In the rare event that a fish managed to foolishly self-impale itself on one of our fishing hooks (probably by swimming with its eyes closed and accidentally bumping into the unbaited hook), we tried our best to shake it off and avoid having to reel it in. Watching us would have made Rex Hunt weep.

Of course, it was never really about the fishing. The fishing was just an excuse to sit in the sun with a mate, swapping tall stories and solving meaningful questions like whether the Chinese Pen-Hold or the Western Shakehold was the best way to hold a table tennis paddle. For us, the act of fishing was much more important than the actual outcome. A lack of fish didn’t preclude having a great day.

In some ways our approach to fishing can be likened to how you might approach your retirement. In financial terms, the journey to retirement is much more important than the destination. You can’t fix your retirement when you eventually pull up stumps and call it a day – by then it’s too late. A comfortable retirement is nurtured over time, it doesn’t suddenly manifest itself on your last day in the office. Unfortunately we live in a society where the emphasis is on the here and now, with little thought given towards thirty, forty or fifty years down the track. If you start planning early enough, achieving a comfortable retirement need be no more work than sitting on the rocks by the sea, feeding fish and drinking beer. How hard is that?