The Trouble with Choices

old way

As a parent, I learned pretty quickly that young children don’t do well with too many choices. It took me a lot longer to figure out that I don’t either.

I can remember, when my kids were little, the trauma of getting Happy Meals at the McDonald’s drive-through. I was probably a bad father for taking them there in the first place, but I became a much worse father when it was time to order.

Very soon, I realized that their small minds couldn’t process the difficult chicken-or-burger decision within the time frame set by my patience level. After a torturous five seconds or so, I would usually just blurt out, “Three McNugget meals and Sprites.” Then I’d drive around, with much moaning and gnashing of teeth coming from the back seat.

Just recently, I noticed that I do a version of that same thing to myself almost every time I go fishing.

I’ve written before about all the great fishing spots in Northwest Florida. Unless you’re after rainbow trout, salmon or cod, we’re within driving distance of any species you could want. So here I am, in this ocean of fishing opportunity, but it seems like my rudder is always stuck on the same course.

There are dozens of nearby fishing holes that my brother Steve and I have said we need to try. There are places in the river, on the sound and along the coast. There are places in Calhoun County on the Apalachicola and Chipola rivers that we haven’t fished in years. But it doesn’t matter because when I head out this weekend, I know I’ll end up in one of the same four or five places I always go.

It may just be that old habits are hard to break – or that old age is creeping in sooner than I expected. But I know at least part of the problem is that I like to come home with fish.

This dock is one of my old standbys.

Fishing spots that come with a built-in cleaning bench always rate pretty highly with me.

You know those people who don’t ever catch anything but tell you it’s okay because they just enjoy being out there? Well, I wasn’t raised by or around any of those people. To my folks, successful fishing trips all ended the same way: with the wonderful taste of fried fish. Anything else was just failure. (And failure, as we all know, tastes like Vienna sausages.)

So when I leave the house, I’m playing the odds. I go where I know I stand a good chance of catching fish or, more accurately, to where I’ve caught fish before. And I’ll keep going back as long as they’re biting. When they stop, I’ll reluctantly move on and try someplace new.

I guess it’s good to have lots of choices. It’s just that I like to make the same ones over and over again.

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