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Ludlum'sDaughter14
08-05-2017, 06:19 PM
Since we've been chatting about Confessions recently, it seems only right to bring up ATWWF. It's often forgotten next to its predecessor because it's a completely different type of book. Confessions is a call to take up your own spatula and defy a corrupt system in the fight for physical and spiritual freedom. And Then We Went Fishing issues a subtler call that prods the reader to take stock of his or her soul by following in intimate detail the journey of a man reconciling with the truth about himself and his father, his past and his future. A lot of people will tell you reading Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy changed their life; this is true for me, but it was And Then We Went Fishing that first impacted me to the core of my being.

I don't remember how much of what I'm about to say I've already said (and I'd prefer not to check my earliest posts since I don't want to get off-track cringing over their betrayal of youth and emotional flux). So I risk repeating myself, but the danger is less than it appears, for there are some truths I've long resisted admitting, even and especially to myself.

This book came my way at an interesting time in my life. Actually, I sought it out. I had just begun the second semester of my sophomore year of college. At the end of the previous semester, during Thanksgiving break, I realized for the first time that my self-appointed role as in-house marriage counselor was a job beyond my qualifications. A meeting with my trusted academic advisor left me with four words: "You can't fix it." Over the three weeks at home during Christmas break, I'd tried to stop trying to fix it. But I held on to the nagging suspicion that if I could somehow help fix her, most of our problems would be solved. That wedge had come between us during my last two years of high school, though she never completely knew the extent of what happened inside me or the combination of separation and conscience needed to bring love back to the surface.

But these were the things my family never talked about with anyone else and almost never with each other. We were in unspoken agreement that the constant conflict would remain a secret. Only during my freshman year of college, when my best friend found out that I didn't really want to go home for break and I tried to explain why, did I learn that not all families were like mine. Telling my advisor some of the details of the problem had been a big step - one that remains a secret from my parents to this day. Yet there was room to grow.

Over Christmas break, I’d been working on BSG fan fiction, which led to me thinking a lot about Dirk. From the panels and other videos I’d seen on YouTube, over time I had discovered that his was a personality that intrigued me. There was one audio interview conducted during his time on BSG that always came back to me. In it he talked about the kind of life he wanted to make in Montana, his inability to be content with beauty alone in his relationships, his desire to play Hamlet as a man of action, and how having multiple interests made life more complicated. The interview took place before most of the YouTube chronicles, in the early days of his rise to fame. He hadn’t yet perfected the gregarious, cosmopolitan side of his personality that helped maintain his energy across multiple conventions around the world. And in the interview, he came across as a man who knew the best part of his life was ahead of him, knew what was most important to strive for, and knew how to enjoy letting the rest shape up on its own. The first time I listened to the interview was my senior year of high school, when I was looking out on my future and anticipating what lay ahead. Dirk’s sensible yet optimistic approach to the future – wisdom beyond his years combined with eagerness and curiosity of a much younger person – resonated with me then, and continued to do so. And when I watched his later interviews and panels, I maintained the conviction that there were many levels to him that he kept mostly quiet when the cameras were rolling.

These two threads of thought woven together led me to an Amazon search to check out Dirk’s books. A book on family written by the man whose personality offered more questions than answers seemed both apropos and intriguing. I spent a few days debating whether to spend the money to buy the book. On the day classes started, I decided it was a go. However, if I ordered a copy, by the time it arrived in the mail, school would be in full swing and I wouldn’t have time to enjoy the book without letting other responsibilities suffer. So I opted to buy the Kindle version that afternoon.

I've tried many times to come up with an analogy to describe what the experience was like. The best I can think of is living for months on bread and water and then drinking a glass of wine for the first time (I can't tell how good the analogy is since I lack personal experience for both situations). What I took away from And Then We Went Fishing includes the following:

1. I can talk about my family's problems.

Two days after I finished the book, I wrote an essay to work through the history of the situation, the change in my thinking, and the new approach of love and understanding I would adopt with my mom. Over time I showed this essay to my advisor, my writing teacher, my soon-to-be boyfriend who also had family problems, my best friend, and my sister. The last thing I wanted was to reflect badly on my parents or cause them any issues, but I learned I could protect them while still being honest to a degree about the way things were for the sake of my own healing and to help those around me with their burdens.

2. The people I love are responsible for their own decisions and mistakes. I am only responsible for loving them, as they are, even if they never change.

This was the lesson Dirk took away from his experience, and one that I needed to hear. I also felt responsible for maintaining peace as much as I could and finding a way to fix the problems my family shared under our roof. My first mistake was thinking I was capable, and my second, that I was accountable. No matter how things turned out, the choices my parents made and the following consequences were theirs to answer for. And if the strife and the pain continued as it was for years to come or even got worse, I couldn't simply wait to love my family until they improved. My job was to meet them where they were at with an unconditional love; focus on the positive aspects of who they are, their strengths, the things they do better than me or anyone else in the family; and most of all, learn to let things go.

3. I am not alone.

Growing up, I felt like an alien trying to assimilate into Earth culture. No matter how I tried to learn the lingo and understand the fashions and entertainment of others my age, I never quite fit in. My values, priorities, passions, experiences, and thought processes marched to the beat of a different timpani. College life and the coinciding journeys around the Internet clued me into pop culture and generational interests so on some level I could finally rejoin my fellow Millennials. But I had never met anyone who I felt truly understood me, so I spent my time understanding other people, and then occasionally acted as my own interpreter to explain my responses when they cared enough to know.

From beginning to end, ATWWF overwhelmed me with the sense that I'd finally found someone who spoke my language. I'd found the Dirk Benedict I glimpsed in the BSG interview. And I'd found even more than I expected; his writing confirmed beyond a doubt that we were the same MBTI personality type - same basic thought processes, order of analysis and priorities, and perspective of the world. I'd known people who I suspected were the same type as me, but they were always timid, unambitious, and generally boring. Dirk had a healthy sense of adventure, demonstrated a strong personality, and clearly enjoyed making people laugh, even if it meant poking fun at himself. Everything he said and did made sense to me, including the way he reacted to conflict between paradoxical facets of his personality. And his close relationship with his father, who was simultaneously a father, a mentor, and a friend to him, resonated with my own love for my father - my first role model and my longest confidant. I felt as if Dirk and I were in essence the same person separated only by time and gender and life experiences. And that was both a reassuring and unnerving thought.

4. I can be honest with myself and others about the way things really are.

Believe it or not, admitting to everything under #3 has been hard because it makes me really vulnerable. For most of my life I thought I couldn't live to the fullest without knowing someone who could understand me and still like me. I thought I needed a best friend, a boyfriend, or a mentor to come into my life and help me navigate my way out of my disappointment and loneliness. There were many people I met over the years that I thought could help me. Dirk was one of them. But then, I realized the problem didn't lie in my lack of close friends. The problem was I wanted someone else to do for me things I had to either trust God to do or do for myself. No matter where you are and who you are with, if you're discontent, the problem lies with you. You take contentment or discontentment with you wherever you go. And you can only love and enjoy other people to the fullest when you're free of needing them to make you happy.

A lot of what I wrote on this forum last year, not just about Dirk but about everything, is a bit embarrassing to me now. I was so lonely, and I had finally found friends on here who I really wanted to keep getting to know, and I was getting small amounts of bad quality sleep which affected my common sense (and brevity). But I am in a much better place now. I am even closer friends with the wonderful people I was just getting to know. I am sleeping longer and better than before and making better decisions with my diet and lifestyle. And I've survived a summer that held a lot of stressful situations for my mom, and we still have a good relationship to the point where she lets me lovingly speak logic to her emotions ("I must be cruel only to be kind"). But the journey that led to all of the above can be traced back to And Then We Went Fishing. And, as I told Dirk in Missouri, now I know there's someone out there who's the same kind of crazy I am. Whatever happens from now on, it's been worth it.

elainesteel
08-06-2017, 05:38 AM
For some reason i'm compelled to write the lyrics to Barry Manilow's song All The Time in response to this. Hope you like it, give it a listen if you do!

"All the time I thought, there's only me.
Crazy in a way that no one else could be.
I would have given every thing I owned, if someone would've said, you're not alone.

All the time I thought, that I was wrong.
Wanting to be me but needing to belong.
If I'd of just believed in all I had.
Someone would have said, you're not so bad.

All the time.
All the wasted time.
All the years.
Waiting for a sign.
To think I had it all.
All the time.

All the time I thought, there's only me.
Crazy in a way that no one else could be.
I can't believe that you were somewhere too.
Thinking all the time, there's only you.

All the time.
All the wasted time.
All the years.
Waiting for a sign.
To think we had it all.
All the time."

Ludlum'sDaughter14
08-06-2017, 09:40 AM
For some reason i'm compelled to write the lyrics to Barry Manilow's song All The Time in response to this. Hope you like it, give it a listen if you do!

"All the time I thought, there's only me.
Crazy in a way that no one else could be.
I would have given every thing I owned, if someone would've said, you're not alone.

All the time I thought, that I was wrong.
Wanting to be me but needing to belong.
If I'd of just believed in all I had.
Someone would have said, you're not so bad.

All the time.
All the wasted time.
All the years.
Waiting for a sign.
To think I had it all.
All the time.

All the time I thought, there's only me.
Crazy in a way that no one else could be.
I can't believe that you were somewhere too.
Thinking all the time, there's only you.

All the time.
All the wasted time.
All the years.
Waiting for a sign.
To think we had it all.
All the time."

Elaine, this is perfect. I love it and am definitely going to listen to it. Thank you for sharing!

Flygirl
08-06-2017, 02:06 PM
Loved reading this because I just finished re-reading ATWWF. I'm mailing it to mom, now, since she expressed an interest. Although she let her friend borrow my SIGNED copy of CKC, so I really should wait to get that back. I hope her friend is being gentle with it...!

Strange as it seems, we all seem to come across these books when we need them most. It was a long time since I read ATWWF and I didn't realize how differently it would affect me this time around.

Anyway, I think you've come a long way on your own, LD. All forms of artistic expression affect each of us the way we need them to. But you have come as far as you have, on your own merit and through your own self-awareness. You should be very proud of that... I know we are. :)

Michele Ann
08-06-2017, 02:13 PM
Loved reading this because I just finished re-reading ATWWF. I'm mailing it to mom, now, since she expressed an interest. Although she let her friend borrow my SIGNED copy of CKC, so I really should wait to get that back. I hope her friend is being gentle with it...!

Strange as it seems, we all seem to come across these books when we need them most. It was a long time since I read ATWWF and I didn't realize how differently it would affect me this time around.

Anyway, I think you've come a long way on your own, LD. All forms of artistic expression affect each of us the way we need them to. But you have come as far as you have, on your own merit and through your own self-awareness. You should be very proud of that... I know we are. :)

I could not agree more. She is wise beyond her years I envy the growth at such at such a young age but then again we all grow at different times and I myself have to remember not to beat myself up. Everyone's life is different. I found the info when I needed it. And I am glad I did at all. It has given me something. And given me all of you.

Bless your growth, LD14. You are more amazing than you will ever know, my dear.

LittleMonkeyDog
08-06-2017, 04:29 PM
LD, I loved reading your review very much. The book also has a very special meaning for me. Both books mean so much to me that they're currently travelling with me. Right now I'm re-reading ATWWF. I've lost count how many times I already read both books ... Still I seem to discover new aspects every time I read them. This journey is a never ending learning process.

You should be very proud of what you already accomplished at your age and I'm positive there will be even more you will be able to accomplish. We are indeed very proud of you !!! It's wonderful to be able to share all this with you and I consider myself blessed that I got to know all of you.

Ludlum'sDaughter14
08-06-2017, 11:07 PM
Any growth, self-awareness, and accomplishments I have are by the grace of God and thanks to the wonderful people who have influenced my life. Although I was lonely growing up, I did have positive influences. My perspective of the world and what's important comes largely from my dad. The idea of carrying your contentment or discontentment with you is something he has reminded me of multiple times, although I know where he ultimately drew the concept from. He also taught his shy and perfectionistic child to take risks and do hard things, because everything worthwhile starts out hard. My mom has also taught me valuable lessons despite our personality clashes. It's not been a perfect or easy life, but I count myself blessed.

LittleMonkeyDog
08-07-2017, 11:45 AM
I remember re-reading ATWWF right after I lost my grandmother. I was already going through a difficult period in my life when she started to have problems with her heart. My grandmother has and will always be the rock in my life. She practically raised me as we lived right next door to her and she took care of me after school while my parents went to work. She was also my godmother and we had a very special bond. I could always go to her with whatever problem I had. She would just listen to me at times or would help me to find a solution. I looked up to her for her positivism and her will power and her wisdom. She taught me a valuable life-lesson: sometimes you need to listen to your heart instead of what your mind is telling you to do.
I was afraid to lose her. I remember that vividly. She was like my mentor and I had no idea what to do without her. But still ... she became very sick all of a sudden. I remember us having a conversation that day. It was really special and helped me deal with losing her. She told me that she didn't want to leave us behind, but she also didn't want to keep fighting because it was an awful experience she had previously went through. Her eyes told me even more than the words that were spoken. She must have been in an awful lot of pain and panic when that had happened and I didn't want for her to suffer. So I remember telling her that I understood, although I hated to let her go. She just smiled and told me she would never leave my side. So I'm carrying my own 'ghost' with me. But in a positive way.