Let me tell you a story. I was divorced from my ex-husband but I still loved him. We lived only a few miles apart and we had a daughter together. Even after the divorce was final, we kept spending time together. It seemed to me that things were better than ever between us because I had become a wiser and even a happier person after the initial grieving and misery of the separation. I had joined a support group mainly to complain, but instead I had learned some new ways of looking at things. I made friends and went to work and took care of my daughter, but all the while I believed that he would come back to me.
One day we were on a fishing trip. As a little girl who was starved for male attention and a happy family life, I had yearned for outings like the ones I had with my ex-husband. He grew up on a Florida riverbank in his back yard, teaching himself to fish and camp and water ski. He had a natural joy in living that I lacked. It seemed to me that he held the key to all the things I had missed out on as a child.
So this one day we were fishing in a little boat under the Sunshine Skyway bridge in Tampa Bay. We were anchored near one of the pillars of the bridge. There was only one other boat nearby. Occasionally a fish jumped out of the water or a bird skimmed near the surface or some insect buzzed near my face. The sun was warm but there was a cool breeze. The water sparkled and the waves gently rocked our boat. I settled back in my seat with a cold drink.
First, my ex-husband threw out a cast net to catch "white bait", small little fish that he put in the live well of the boat where the water was circulating. He then put a little live fish on a hook and cast toward some rocks where he said a big fish might be hiding. I said a little prayer that he might catch a fish. It would put him in such a good mood.
I was very surprised to hear him complain and cast again. He explained to me that the little fish on the hook was swimming away from the rocks. I had assumed that little fish was dead as soon as he was hooked, but he was still alive and still trying to avoid his fate. He was doomed, but he didn't know it.
All afternoon, various bait fish took their turns trying to avoid the big fish hiding in the rocks. Other fish jumped trying to catch the insects flying near the water. The man in the boat tried to catch the big fish and the woman in the boat dreamed of getting the man to come back home to her. High above, cars headed one direction or another over the huge bridge on their own errands and big planes flew overhead to exotic destinations.
The man didn't catch any fish that day. Sometime later, the same month our daughter graduated High School, he started dating someone else and in less than a year he was remarried.
What happened to me? I kept seeing my friends, going to work and taking care of my daughter. Fortunately, I had learned a new way of looking at things that helped me through. I am happily remarried myself today and our daughter is grown with children of her own. We are all friends.
The lesson? Every creature that walks or crawls or swims or flies has an agenda of its own. No one can make anyone do anything they don't want to do, even if they say they will. So spend your energy on your own life. Learn and work and have fun. Live and let live. Love everyone you can -- even the ones who don't love you back. Someone even wrote a poem about it.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.