Angling for Simplicity

We’re programmed to do things:

Get up early. Read a book. Don’t slouch in front of the telly. Be productive. Get going. Time is money. Life’s too short.

Bollocks to that.

I read a delightful interview with Chris Yates the other day – which can be found here. Not only did I love the picture the interviewer paints of this man described in his wiki page as, among other things, a ‘tea connoisseur’ (he also reminded me of the fantastic Roger Deakin), but it stirred something in me from a distant past.

Yep, I’ll come clean – between the ages of 5-15, I used to be obsessed with fishing. Fishing by scrubby ponds in the depths of London’s wellington boots and condoms, rather than alongside the majestic lochs and streams of Scotland and beyond. I loved it. In fact, I’d like to do more fishing today. Just sitting relaxed by a body of water, enjoying nature.

Chris is famous for holding the Record for the largest carp caught in British waters. However, the interesting thing is not his record, but the fact that before he spent 7 or 8 weeks every summer for seven years, not because he wanted to catch the biggest fish, but because he loved it there. Here’s a passage from the article:

PARR: And that would be your priority? You wouldn’t let a work deadline encroach your fishing time?

(At the time Chris Yates was a photographer of some note – the majority of his work designing album and book covers)

YATES: (Slightly shocked) No. No. No. I would phone people up, a new client maybe, and they would come around and really love my work, and I would have to say to them – “Before we talk about jobs, there is something you should know – I am a photographer, but before that and above that, I am a fisherman, that comes first.” Some of them would look aghast, and say, “we can’t do business then – we’re wasting one another’s time,” and off they’d go. But the good one’s would say, “That’s great – you can come and tell me some fishing stories between jobs.”

But I’d always say that – first I’m a fisherman – then I’m a photographer.

And then I’d be offered a new job and clients would say, “Look, you’ve got a three week deadline on this.”

And I’d say, “Well I’m off to Redmire tomorrow.”
“Redmire? Ahhhh…”

There was no argument. They would just say, “Will you have time when you come back – to read the novel and do the cover?”

“Yes… there’s bound to be time…”

So, yes, Redmire did become my second home – actually my first home, the one with bricks was my second home. And I think I got to know it better than anyone else, I just loved being there.

For fear of repeating myself, this was before he was a record-breaker. In fact, the record only came as a result of his not conforming to normal ambitions and spending time off, rather than time on.

Follow your passions. If you love it somewhere, stay – regardless of whether it conforms to other peoples’ view of what you should be doing, or how it fits into your plan for global domination.

“In most work, success is measured by income, and whilst our capitalistic society continues, this is inevitable. It is only where the best work is concerned that this measure ceases to be the natural one to apply.” – Bertrand Russell in The Conquest of Happiness.

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