The fisherman at Taravao Point

Outrigger Canoe with Sail

The sun broke the horizon and the first rays of the day bathed the beach. The sand was still cool from the prior evening. Shore birds like the Manu O’Ku (Fairy Tern) and the Stilt roamed the water’s edge in search of breakfast. They danced back and forth as the incoming waves came ashore; in turn chasing them up the beach and then leading them back down again.

A monk seal family arrived last night to sleep on a secluded corner of the sand. They were now beginning to stir, their eyes slowly opening to the newfound day.

A cool breeze blew across the water as the morning fishing fleet began to assemble. Sitting up on the beachhead were a dozen or so boats. The smaller outrigger canoes were used for fishing mainly inside the atoll. The larger boats, the multihull sailing craft, fished the outer reef and deeper waters of the continental shelf.

Hikialani, one of the local fishermen, was checking over his boat.

Although a morning ritual for him, he greeted each day with hope and thankfulness for the wondrous bounty that nature was about to provide.

Since he was going for larger fish today, to be found in the deeper offshore waters, he prepared his sailing craft. He would have to go out farther. On board he inspected the gaff (a specialized fishing spears), hook, dip-net, casting net, rods, reel, braided line and leaders, lures and bait (shrimp/mullet).

The tide was still ebbing so Hikialani’s strategy was to anchor just short of the outer atoll. With the wind coming out of the west, should the anchor break or “let loose” his boat would slowly drift away from the reef on its own. Anchoring on the leeward side was the best choice under these conditions.

He’ll lower his bait line down to the bottom (60 meters) and then raise it up a little. Hikialani hoped to attract a Black Grouper, Omilu, Ono (of the mackerel family), or O’opu. Any of these would due, and would serve as a great dish for the family’s dinner tonight.

Although he rarely used carved whale bone (as hooks) to actually catch fish, he brought some along since they were a gift from his father; passed on to him from his father’s father. These were sentimental pieces that reminded Hikialani of soft and happy days gone past.

This beach was located at Taravao point, on the southern tip of Aitutaki Island. Nestled in the Pacific Ocean, Aitutaki is one of the many Cook Islands. This was his home, and his father’s before him. His wife and six grand children also loved the Island, and flourished there.

As some of the other fishermen began to arrive a curious tourist, who had been walking on the beach for some time, approached Hikialani.

The tourist commented, “I’m from Singapore and have been vacationing on this beautiful island for a week now. The sunsets are spectacular, the food tasty, and the weather just right. It must certainly be great to live here.”

Hikialani contently replied, “Yes indeed, this is a good place to sing the song of life.”

The tourist hesitated for a second, as if debating in his mind, but then remarked, “I’ve noticed that every morning you go out with the other fishermen but you return to the beach by noon. They stay out for the whole day and come back with a large catch, their boats amply filled. You come back with only a few fish. Is it worth your time? Why do you even bother?”

An ordinary person may have taken offense to the question, since the manner of its presentation was a bit condescending. But Hikialani just smiled. His heart was filled with happiness as he responded, “it provides for me, my family and some neighbors. That’s all I need.”

Coming from a corporate background the tourist was perplexed by this answer. He saw all kinds of opportunity for advancement and commerce on the Island. The tourist remarked, “Yes, but if you fished all day you could afford to buy a bigger boat.”

Hikialani softly asked, “And then what?”

The tourist pursued, “Then you could hire a crew member.”

Hikialani softly asked, “And then what?”

The tourist rejoined, still holding on to his point of view, “And then you could buy a 2nd boat.”

Hikialani softly asked, “And then what?”

The tourist countered with, “You could sell more fish and make more money.”

Hikialani softly asked, “And then what?”

The tourist was a bit annoyed at this point, but he alleged, “Then you could be the captain of a whole fleet and everyone would be working for you.”

Hikialani softly asked, “And then what?”

The tourist leaned forward and said, “Well, I guess that once you’re on top of the world and you have lots of money, you can do what you want with your time.”

Hikialani softly stated, “But that’s exactly what I am doing right now. My job for a few hours each morning is to provide food for my family and neighbors. I spend the afternoons with my grandchildren.”

“Everyone needs some activity and purpose. If you find a job that you love, you’ll never have to work another day in your life. And that’s where I am. I just fish.”

The tourist was perplexed, but did see the logic and wisdom in the fisherman’s words. He only said, “Best wishes to you,” and walked away disgruntled.


One of the hardest lessons to learn in life is how to give up what you don’t yet have.

Meditation is a wonderful tool for unfolding greater peace of mind and satisfaction in life. By developing greater awareness of the inner recesses of consciousness, something that meditation does, life blossoms and bliss becomes a daily reality.

Body and mind are both impermanent. Seek that which is everlasting and not subject to the vicissitudes of phenomenal existence.

Open the lotus buds of your soul. Each petal is permeated with the exuberance of joy. Sow the seeds of forgiveness and charity. Although the trials of life have buffeted your sails and thrown your craft upon the rocks, the eternal smile of ecstasy still shines upon you.

The vitality of the cosmos is seeking you, as a worthy conduit of divine expression.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 25th, 2011 at 2:26 pm and is filed under Right action. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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