Friday, February 14, 2020

The Final Catch

Andre and me
The next day, Andre and I went free diving again for abalone, only this time with his young daughter. There were heaps of Asians around trying to dive for abalone, but a lot of them were really poaching undersized one, which are easier to get. A Cantonese real estate agent that barely knew Andre tagged along with us, even though I didn't want him to. He was a novice diver, unfit, and pudgy and wanted to know a good dive spot. But Andre, didn't want to get into conflict with him. Real estate agents - they always pretend to be your friend - while they take you for a ride. (No offense to my friends who are; it's just the nature of the business.) The want for abalone amongst these people really showed me how greedy and desperate people could be and how they could fake niceness to get what they wanted.

Anyways, I thought it was awesome that Andre brought his daughter with us. She really bonded with us just walking to our dive spot, and at such a young age, she was already learning to free dive. Because she was still little, we had to walk slowly with her.

While walking a mile into our track, I realized, again, I forgot my weight belt. This time in the car. As a result, I had to put rocks in my wetsuit, but they still weren't enough to keep me buoyant. Nonetheless, the rocks still helped and I managed to be heavier and sink some. As a result, I was able to catch 5 pauas (Maori for abalone).

But on trying to pry a big abalone from the rock, my blade snapped. The rust and corrosion had damaged the integrity of the knife at the center, and it just broke. I had a handle and a broken knife now.

It reminded me of how engaging in bad conduct and addictions rot aways at the integrity of one's life, from the inside first. It renders one disabled in virtue and function. It's a terrible place for person to be in. Just as a knife can lose its virtue by being brittle and dull, a person can lose his or her virtue by not functioning in character.

Finding the blade yesterday made me feel like I was on some ancient quest - as when the young Arthur pulled Excalibur from the stone. But now my weapon cracked. But the quest still did not end. I had to go on. (The same with Arthur too. He loses his sword to the Lady of Lake as well, who still has it apparently.) Now the sea had my broken blade for eternity.

Back on shore, Andre finished his catch. The real estate agent gave us two abalone for showing him our spot.

We measured them, and they were undersized. We gently put them back in the water. As I said - he was a no-good poacher. Remember what I said about real estate agents?

Andre gave me his plastic scraper and his catch bag, which I tied to my waste. I added more rocks in. From there, I spotted and took 10 more abalone from the sea.

I puked once, because once again, I caught up in the swell. I felt really sea sick after I left the water, but I was successful. And my feet were numb from all the icy water that filled my wetsuit. I was getting the chills. I have a saying about the New Zealand seas - "That water doesn't love you."

Three of us were in the water. That allowed us 30 abalone. This time I matched Andre or caught one more - depending on how one counts. We both caught our maximum amount of abalone for the day.

I was happy that my skills as an abalone diver returned. Men are respected for their skill to provide.

While walking back, I remembered my mother and her request and thought she would be happy with everything I did to make her happy. If she only knew how much work and suffering went into bringing what she asked for. Her precious abalone.

On the trail, we talked about dinner. Andre's daughter wanted fast food. She asked which fast food restaurant I wanted. I picked KFC.

While Andre drove back into town, I asked him questions about what he would do if he could do life again. He mentioned a few things.

I didn't really have much to say. I wondered a lot about how different my life would've been if I stayed in New Zealand. But I said - I don't have a crystal ball to see how life really would've been different had I stayed. Maybe it would've been worse.

Towards the end of my last job, I did tell him that I felt like I was dying every day, because I wasn't being challenged. I was comfortable and secure during my last days in New Zealand. But my mind was atrophying. Nobody likes pain and challenge, but it's what makes men and women strong and skilled and tough. And law school provided that for me.

I often wonder if it was worth the extraordinary financial cost. Seeing where I am today, I have to say Yes. I'm certain the rigors of law school and the amazing intellectual environment took my thinking to a place I wouldn't be at, if I didn't go.

For dinner - Andre bought us KFC. We made it five minutes before they closed. Drawing on my skills of lawyering persuasion, I convinced her we wouldn't be there much longer and wouldn't interrupt their closing down. So, the staff let us stay and eat.

His daughter was talking to me a lot. I remember when the family visited me in Los Angeles, and she was shy and hardly talked. Also, on my last visit, she was shy and timid and didn't say much. Now she was talking heaps and asking a lot about me and what I remembered about her. I told her what I could recall.

After, we both went to Andre's place - shucked the abalone - and cleaned them. After, I took a hot shower. Andre took one too.

The next day, Andre and his daughter took me to my next destination.

My time with Andre left me really humbled. And how many times have you heard me say that?

When he visited me in Los Angeles, we spent a lunch and dinner together. What's that? Half a day.

But here he was, spending over two full days with me, housing me, feeding me, picking me up at the airport, and taking the trouble to organize my trip. In some ways - the difference is that Kiwis have more time than a busy Angelino. I get that. But I think that Kiwis do hospitality better than I do, and they also understand the preciousness of mate-ship. Our time together here is short. And I'm glad Andre taught me how to take my hospitality to the next level.

Like I said - I was left really humbled, and it would happen again with my other Kiwi friends.

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