For reasons that will become apparent a little further down the road, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about anchors, and change, and their relationship to one another. See, in the nautical world one has an anchor to stop, or at least slow down movement, because on the ocean everything is always moving, even when it appears to be sitting still. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it becomes desirable to become motion-less. Maybe it’s because you’re tired and you just want to take a nap without drifting into something, or maybe you have a prop full of crab line and it just killed your main engine and you’re only in five fathoms drifting hard toward the beach. In case of emergency, or for comfort anchors are important and it’s not wise to leave the dock without one.
In a way, motion and change are synonymous. The dictionary describes motion as ‘the act or process of changing position or place.’ Anyone who’s made it to the diaper stage knows, life is all about change. Creating it, resisting it, avoiding it, dealing with it, doesn’t matter, from the cradle to the grave, its constant and unrelenting. It follows, in a metaphoric sense; in life, anchors are just as important as they are at sea. I realize at this point you may be feeling a little nausea set in, and you’re asking yourself “what the hell is a metaphoric life-anchor?” followed by some comments about the species of my mother. And I will propose to you, it is something that remains the same over time, generation to generation, like tradition, superstition, religion, and myths; values and beliefs held over time that help us individually, culturally and as a species, process and deal with change. Something we can turn to in times of emergency, or when we are in need of comfort.
I picked up this book the other day by Charles Frazier, called ‘thirteen moons’, I highly recommend it. It’s about one of the not so glorious times in our nation’s history, during the Jackson administration, when we tried to commit genocide on the American Indian, the Trail of Tears, manifest destiny, all that. I’m not going to get all preachy on you, please be patient; I’m almost to the part where it applies to fish. See, during that time, in an effort to control a race of people who had existed on the land for thousands of years with little or no impact, in one generation we wiped out the wild Buffalo, and many species of Deer and Elk. I’d like to point out, they weren’t wiped out by the people who relied on hunting them for food, they were wiped out by the military and mercenaries. Sure, some of those mercenaries were Indians, but they were Indians who made a decision to ignore their old traditions and superstitions in exchange for a new tradition, wherein, as long as the end is financial profit, then the end justifies the means.
The reason I’m risking losing customers and being called a communist, is because I think we are in the same situation now as we were back then, except this time it’s the ocean. Instead of Buffalo, we’re talkin’ Salmon, instead of Elk its Tuna, and instead of Indians it’s the small independent fisherman (some of whom are Indians). Once again it’s not the people who rely on them for food, it’s Pebble Mine, irresponsible energy companies, polluting aqua cultures, individuals and organizations who have chosen to ignore long term social and environmental consequences for short term financial gain. Now, I’m a capitalist too, but I’d like to believe I’m a smart capitalist. Unless we start prioritizing differently, we are going to be in a situation like we already are in on land, instead of a wide variety of wild game; we have Chicken, Beef, Lamb and Pork. Paul Greenberg touches on this in his book ‘Four Fish’ he suggests we could end up losing a whole bunch of ocean bio-diversity in exchange for a few species of fish, bred for their adaptability to farming and quick growth with a minimum amount of food input. Instead of wild schools of fish roaming the ocean we’ll have huge aquacultures, or marine CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). Romantic huh?
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s someone who complains and complains without at least offering a solution and I’d rather be called a lot of things before hypocrite. We all know things are messed up and if all we do is focus on the problem that’s taking the lemming way out, just get more and more depressed and keep running faster and faster towards the cliff. So what I’m going to propose and the reason I’ve been going on and on about anchors is this; I think we need to modify our anchor. Or, more accurately we need to un-modify it, we need to re-adopt some of those old traditions that allowed our species to exist on this planet for thousands of years with little or no impact. How I suggest we do that is by looking at some of those old cultures. Financial profit is a concept totally incomprehensible to them; they were all about social and environmental. Now, I know we can’t just throw our monetary system out the door, so what I’m ultimately suggesting I guess is a hybrid anchor, one that combines old values with new, and attaches equal importance to social and environmental profits as it does to financial. In other words adopt a triple bottom line approach.
The triple bottom line approach is already being used by companies like Patagonia and there’s a new kind of corporation called a B corp that uses a triple bottom line approach. The Morro Bay Community Quota Fund is where I first heard about them and when we formed South Bay Wild we included the triple bottom line in our mission and vision and are currently going through the assessment process to become a B corp. If not just surviving but thriving is important enough to us I sincerely believe we can undo a lot of what’s been done, in one generation simply by voting with our dollars and supporting companies who prioritize those values. When you think about it, it’s probably a big part of the reason why you take the time to go to the farmers markets. What we end up with is going to reflect the choices this generation makes, I’d like to think it could still be beautiful.
Finally, because there’s really no limit to the amount of intestinal discomfort I’m willing to inflict, I’m going to include a poem I wrote about anchors and change.
Fair weather and good fishin-
Anchors, Change & that 92’ Dodge
On the ocean everything’s always moving, even when it appears to be sitting still.
You’ll find out if you stick around long enough, constant change can test one’s skill.
When ocean and events move too fast, you’ll need an anchor you can throw,
to buy time to take inventory, assess, how to avoid the rocky shore.
That old 92’ Dodge is an anchor of sorts I’ve found,
when life gets moving too fast it ties me to solid ground.
See, grandpa’s last truck was my first, when he died he left it to me.
With a note reading, “take good care of my truck & it’ll be the only one you’ll ever need.”
So when I find myself thinking too hard and my auto-pilot can’t see,
I go for a ride in that old truck and Gramps comes along to council me.
“ya know boy when you’ve got your head up your ass, installing a transparent belly-button will help you to see.”
“But pulling your cranium out of your rectum makes a lot more sense to me.”
“You’ll find tomorrow comes sometimes, and it’s better to be wise than bold,
take good care of yourself just in case you happen to get old.”
“The thing about those radio-fish is they’re already in someone else’s hold,
turn down the volume, pay attention to the signs, figure out where your boats gotta go.”
“You’ll see in time, the fisherman who has the better luck,
ain’t always the one who’s driving the newest truck”
“Sometimes money is tight and flashy won’t pay the bills,
the less you owe, the less you need, and the fewer fish you gotta kill.”
“So, maintain what you’ve got, might not be pretty but it’ll do,
remember, when it’s a hard pull, slow and steady gets you through.”
“And those fish, they’re like you & that truck, you gotta take care of the sea,
or you’ll find yourself on the side of the road, thumb in the air, without a fishery.”
“Truth isn’t always popular, and life ain’t just about collecting wealth,
let the idiots point and laugh, but make sure you’re true to yourself”
I don’t always like hearing what he has to say, but he’s pretty much always right,
a couple of times if he wasn’t already dead, I’d have invited him out of the truck for a fight.
One generation grinds to the next, when my turns over I wish those left luck.
And I’ll leave them with one word of advice; take good care of that old truck.