As the sea flexed and fell beneath the weathered wooden vessel, the lone fisherman listened longingly to the doleful sounds of his craft. He knew the tone of every bend of wood, for the very deck he stood upon was wrought by his own hand. Ten long hours a day, the fisherman stood there, dredging the black deep with ancient nets under the blaze of a white hot sun. And for many seasons, for as long as he could cast the broad and cumbersome nets, the fisherman awaited the great haul of his life; the one that would make him glad and reward him with that sterling contentedness of a day well spent.
The long seasons traipsed onward, and the spite of salt air, accompanied by the bitterness of empty fish coffers, kept the fisherman seeking the council of his own reason and learned methods. When the nets turned up empty, he employed new luring practices, but the pull yielded naught. So the fisherman mended the holes in his nets and lowered them in warmer waters. And for a time, the catch was good, but it remained a far cry from the fullness of bounty the fisherman knew he would one day carry westward into the harbor of the setting sun. Still, he did not grow weary in doing well his work.
Then, one day, on his way back to port after a particularly hapless voyage, the fisherman heard—in a faint whisper, as if upon the wind—a familiar voice, still and small. It was the same voice that first urged him in his youth to take up his nets and bear them henceforth to the sea. The fisherman did not understand the instruction that had come to him, and at first, questioned it, saying, “Are you not the same one who bade me come here and spend my years drawing empty nets? Would you now have me forfeit a season to do what you say?” But the fisherman was subject to the voice, and obeyed.
He immediately began making repairs to his vessel, for that is what he had been commanded to do. He tarred the deck anew, replaced far aged planks, purged the craft of all but necessity and sewed together new sails for its mast. He even painted a new crest upon the ship’s bow. And when the fisherman had finished his work in full, many years had past, for the repairs were great, the ship was large, and he was one. The old fisherman alas boarded his vessel and set sail once more. And as the new sails sped him forward, full of wind, an emblazoned bravery was inscribed upon his heart.
As the craft cut through the chop with new purpose, the fisherman witnessed something he was sure he’d never seen before. The ocean in the ship’s wake had begun to bubble and turn, spilling onto itself in many splashing droves of shining silver so brilliant, he scarce could look at it directly. The fisherman at once realized the phenomenon was not the ocean at all, but every manner of fish from his every patient dream. The fisherman marveled, for no sooner had his nets graced the water’s edge than the fish began to leap from the sea, foregoing the nets and gathering on the ship’s deck.
When the long day had finally come to an end, and the fisherman saw that dusk had begun to settle in on the harbor of the setting sun, he looked upon his catch and gave thanks to the one who had provided. It was then that he realized, had he not fortified the deck, the weight of the catch would have crippled his craft. Had he neglected to replace the aged planks, the ship might have been battered by the onslaught of fish. And had he reasoned with himself that his former sails were sufficient, the boat would have laid dead in the water, immovably encumbered by the haul. So as the fisherman set the ship’s course for port, and the wind breathed life into its sails, he was reminded of the voice; the one that led him ever in the way of patience and strength, and he was made glad, having been filled with that sterling contentedness of a day well spent, for he had not grown weary in doing well his work.