I laughed to myself. Standing waste deep in the Feather River, 100 feet downstream from 30 anglers bent on catching giant salmon, I was fly fishing for brook trout.
The thumping I felt wasn’t the shy brookies I was targeting. It was exhausted 30 pound salmon swimming between my legs and bumping into me on their way upstream.
I’d read good fishing reports for this river. I knew there were trout there. But my light fly rod, tiny fly hooks, and 2 pound test line were no match for the conditions I was facing.
I was absolutely no match for the giant group of men who’d come to the river to try to catch a salmon. These weren’t the friendly Subaru driving yuppies I sometimes bumped into high in the Sierras while fly fishing. These were rough looking people who’d been known to get in a fight over their position on the banks.
With each cast I could feel the gap widening between success and failure. Sure, I knew what I was doing. Sure, I had a fishing license and every right to fish there. And sure, I wasn’t bothering those guys in the least.
But I was in the wrong spot on the wrong day. So I left.
On that day in those conditions I would have better, easier success in the tributaries. So I left the valley and drove up into the mountains.
Could I have competed with all of those other fisherman to catch my brook trout among their salmon? Sure. But it wasn’t worth it. Too much risk. Too much effort. And not enough success.
The same is true in life.
Sometimes people spend too much energy elbowing out space so they can compete with everyone else when they’d be better off finding a tributary where they’d find success easier.
Finding Your Tributary
Our culture often lies about where happiness is found. In America, we tend to believe that happiness is found when we compete in our career at the highest possible level and success.
And for some that might be true.
But there’s a lot more happiness found when you discover the right place for you.
I’ve found it’s better to invest my time finding the right tributary for myself rather than trying to elbow my way into the mainstream.