For my God-fearing grandmother the lesson had biblical roots in reminding that “we will reap what we shall sow.” My mother followed with the Golden Rule, often reminding me to “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
While I heard what they preached, my father’s approach to teaching the same lesson was more practical in nature. He simply did good deeds for others without expectation of payment or appreciation in return. With his many random acts of kindness to others in order to improve their lot in life, or simply make them feel better, he was loved and appreciated by many and most likely all.
As one of the area’s best bass fishermen, he was often followed around his favorite lakes by others who suspected he had a secret hole, methods or lures. Many of them could be quite rude, pulling up in their boats next to his and casting to the same spot he was casting.
Rather than anger, he invariably responded by handing them a sandwich bag containing a few plastic worms, hooks and weights, followed by instruction in how to rig and fish them properly. A fair number of them went on to become pretty good bass fishermen, and one who became rather famous and wrote a book on the subject gave credit to my father in his foreword.
In addition to his kindness and generosity to others, he believed that those things should be given without an ulterior motive or the expectation of receiving anything in return from that person. Simply helping others was the right thing to do – and its own reward. Conversely, he would point out that he was often rewarded with random acts of kindness supporting his belief that “what goes around comes around.”
It wasn’t until many years later that I first heard the word “karma,” but when I did, I knew immediately that it described my father’s philosophy of life. It was one of the most important lessons he ever taught me given that it has been a wellspring of good fortune for most of my life.
In saying that, I am not suggesting that I have been as kind or generous in my life as my father was in his, but I’ve tried to follow his philosophy for a good part of my time here. My recounting of it here is necessary to explain the good things that happen to me and my passion for fishing and hunting provides many excellent examples.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to provide a little help and an occasional dinner for three fine young men who were roommates and played football for my San Diego State University Aztecs. One aspect of that help was actually provided by my son who taught them to skin dive local beaches and take fish with a spear of sorts known as a Hawaiian Sling.
The parents of all three expressed their appreciation of the fact that we had provided an outlet from the rigors their classes and the year-round training required of Division I athletes. Knowing that I am an avid bird hunter, and take a road trip each year, one of the fathers arranged for me to include a stay with one of his childhood pals in Montana in the course of my journey.
When I arrived, I was treated like an old friend, greeted with a steak dinner, a warm bed and key to the house, followed by some terrific pheasant hunting and the pleasure of making a new friend.
I went back again last fall and I am now preparing to head back later this month as a welcome guest and enjoy hunting privileges that I previously could only dream of – all because I took an interest in helping out three young men – and the magic of good karma.
I recall someone describing life as a series of coincidental and ironic events. Shortly after writing this entry, I received a call from a childhood friend who had little parental influence and learned much about bass fishing at my father’s side. He later went on to become a successful professional bass angler. Until yesterday, I’d not heard from him in the last 25 years, which we tried to catch up on in a 25 minute phone call that included: “This is the first time I’ve had a chance to tell you that when I won my first major bass tournament, I told the audience that the first person I wanted to thank was Mike Brown who was the father of one of my friends and taught me how to fish for bass and be a better person.”