Five Things I learned From a Fisherman

It was a rainy day at this village where fishing is still done the traditional way – with hook and line.

The boats were safely on shore, but I noticed someone working in his boat and he was gracious enough to share some of his time. Here are some of the things I learned.

1. Even when it’s stormy, you still have to work and prepare for when the sun comes out. Preparation is part of catching the fish and takes as long as the time at sea.


2. Chicken feathers make good bait. Never underestimate the hidden treasure in ordinary things – they can be the secret to a livelihood.


3. If you don’t get out and catch some fish, you don’t eat. The world doesn’t owe you a living. But it isn’t always stormy and the sun does come out.


4. Don’t be afraid of the waves when you go out to sea, you will get used to them. But watch out for the clouds and rain that hide the stars and mountains that guide your way home.


5. There is always reason to smile.


I thank Mr. Fisherman for the lessons I picked up that day.


(On the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.)

Venus of Willendorf

(Venus of Willendorf on display at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria)

The Venus of Willendorf is a 4.4-inch figurine made around 28,000 years ago, a famous example of “Venus figurines” from the Old Stone Age (Upper Paleolithic). (Archeologists associate this period with the earliest appearance of modern humans — this is where “Paleo diet” comes from, also called caveman diet or hunter-gatherer diet).

The “oldest undisputed example of a depiction of a human being yet discovered” is the Venus of Hohle Fels dating as far back as 40,000 years ago.

These figurines, no more than a few inches high, are carved from stone, ivory, or molded from clay. Many depict women with exaggerated sexual features, faceless heads and missing arms and legs. Their use and meaning are naturally subject to much speculation and nobody will probably ever know.

The exact purpose of the carvings aside, it is worth noting that they show such detail and craftsmanship. It is mind-boggling that such artifacts of great creativity and symbolism already existed in the Stone Age, a manifestation of culture at the dawn of human history.

The Venus of Willendorf, like other Venus figurines, is unusual. But maybe we can also take pride that our species is truly unusual too.


A Painting I Would Be Happy to Sign


If this was a painting I would be happy to sign it. I don’t mean just the scenery on the wall, I mean including the people and everything in it.

I’ve posted about how I wanted to be a painter but couldn’t draw straight lines. I continue to admire creations by hand.

In case you’re wondering, they’re creating this mural out of colored pieces that they stick on the wall. A collage in the original sense (from the French: collier, “to glue” – Wikipedia).


Sometimes the camera can be handy too, if only to capture a work of art being created by hand.

(In the province of Bataan in the Philippines.)

The Rickety Footbridge


Someone or some people built this footbridge. Seemingly made of sticks.
They wanted to connect to the town, be part of something big.

That was years ago. Last time I checked the bridge was gone.
Perhaps swept away by a storm. Or maybe someone took it down.

There are suspension bridges, and concrete bridges.
There are steel bridges, and there are rickety bridges.

Connections in life are like bridges. Some are long and steadfast.
And some, like rickety bridges, are good while they last.

(Somewhere on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.)

A Passenger Looks Out His Window


He sees two other windows
Oblivious to him
Each one a screen
Lives playing out
A sliver of reality
A slice of time

Will they look at him
Looking at them
Or the other windows on his train
Or when the train moves
At the city lights
And the stars in the lonely sky?

(Thoughts on a bullet train station in Kyoto.)