As I (Kate) write this, my heartbeat slows down and the world gets more silent. Traffic stills and I no longer feel the need to surf the internet, and go on Twitter. Instead, the momentary pause of fishing envelops me. In our joint work, with young people, youth workers, artists, poets and philosophers, and anglers we go beyond university spaces, into our own embodied experience. By ‘learning through country’3 we are able to fully enter the experience of gazing into the water. We learn too, along with the young people. Boundaries of expert and instructor dissolve, and we combine our ways of knowing in a situated experience of loss, rebirth and hope.
The implications of practice for young people with mental distress include the need to focus on the heritage, skills and practices young people bring when working across generations. Knowledge exchange becomes a way of being, so that young people can exchange knowledge with their elders in equitable settings. Community knowledge, often hidden from academic domains of practice, can become important in these contexts. The importance of calm, contemplation and mindfulness for young people is emphasised in this project, whereby the slowness of the activity and the need to be silent and still, instils a quiet and peaceful feeling. The beauty of the surroundings also plays an important part. The wisdom in fishing involves an understanding of the terrible prospect of death, as the fish is caught and held, as well as the possibility of life. These inherent possibilities of fishing create spaces of transcendence and hope for young people to live within. The space of fishing is one of colearning across generations. It is accessible for working class young people who might not access beautiful natural spaces without this support. Fishing offers a world of silence, contemplation and beauty that is also accessible, inclusive and congruent with what young people do with their uncles, grandparents and fathers. Fishing is situated, draws on everyday
Fig. 5.2 Dylan's fish
knowledge in communities and is located in the spaces that young people are. The emphasis on quiet and silence, which is important as that is how you catch a fish, enables young people to zone out and have their own ‘bubble’ or ‘me-time’. Best of all, you get to catch fish.
To end, here is a conversation between Jordan and Reece about fishing (Fig. 5.2):
Two boys are disgorging a fish:
Jordon: What can I say____This is Jordon interviewing Dylan at Bakers
pond. He has just caught a nice fish here. This is him trying to get a hook out of its mouth which he’s pathetic at (pause)
Dylan: ‘Pathetic’ Jordon is such a negative word Jordan: Is it out yet?
Dylan: No it’s not Jordon: Pull it hard?
Dylan: Every time I try to pull it out it goes back in Jordon: Does he want that maggot?
Jordon: I were asking what he likes about fishing and what calms him down, stuff like that Dylan: Stuff like that (train sound)
Jordon: What calms you down when you’re fishing?
Dylan: When I catch summat like that! When I catch nice decent size fish. (Transcript from Jordan’s film)