Friday, August 01, 2008

Catch and Release

Once again, this month’s church book club selection surprised me. I just finished “Same Kind of Different as Me: a modern-day slave, an international art dealer and the unlikely woman who bound them together” by Ton Hall and Denver Moore. Quite a title---quite a book. On the surface, it is a memoir about the friendship between a homeless man and an international art dealer. Along the way, the reader becomes caught up in the lives of three people. This book had me laughing one minute and crying the other.

How does an international art dealer (Ron) meet and befriend a modern-day slave (Denver)? Following a marital indiscretion and a renewed commitment to his marriage, Ron follows his wife Debbie’s lead and begins to volunteer at a homeless shelter in Dallas. It is through this active commitment to missions that Ron and Denver are changed forever. At one point in the book Ron asks Denver to be his friend. To which Denver answers his question by addressing his own bafflement with the “white folk” fishing practice of “catch and release”.

Denver went on. “I just can’t figure it out. ‘Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that’ll look. Then we eat what we catch…in other words, we use it to sustain us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water.”

“So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend.”

“But if you is looking for a real friend, then I’ll be one. Forever.” (p107)

Talk about powerful. How many times do we “catch and release” friendships? We excuse ourselves when friendships become difficult or circumstances change. We often expect more of friends than we require of ourselves. When complicated friendships begin to wane, we just let them go—release them. We invest time and energy into the lives of others up to a point, as long as the relationship is easy. I am not talking about unhealthy or abusive friendships; I am talking about choosing to disengage because the friendship is too demanding or we just don’t want the complication in our lives. In releasing these friendships, we rob ourselves the practice of grace and the blessings ascribed to such an exercise.

These thoughts force me examine my own “catch and release” track record. Am I requiring more of those I have released, than I do of myself? Have I made bogus excuses so that I can “feel better” about the release? Just as Denver, I am not interested in investing in a catch and release friendships. I don’t think anyone is. I want the integrity and courage to maintain friendships even when they may get difficult. I want the opportunity to practice grace and to work through the “hard stuff”. I want my friendships to be forever.


Anonymous said...


Interesting post and sounds like an interesting book as well.

A couple of things come to mind.

I found it interesting to learn during a short term work assignment I had in Texas one time that the "locals" were typically "closed". They were not interested in investing in friendships - outside of work - with anyone who was not "from there". Reason cited was that people not "from there" were likely transient and would ultimately move on. The locals did not want to invest any time or energy in a friendship that they felt had a defined "shelf life".

In my own situation, I don't really have many friends. I know a lot of people, but I don't really have that many friends. Part of the reason, I suspect, could be some of the things you've outlined in your post. The work, the effort; it just gets easier to let it slide. And we all want the easy way, don't we?

I think that times of significant adversity - like the death of a spouse - can point this up. There was tremendous support in the final weeks before Shelley died and then friends and family were in contact with me for awhile after. But gradually the level of contacts faded away. Admittedly, I haven't done much to sustain the contacts, but then that's the way I've always been.

Thought provoking post. Not sure if it will spur me on to make changes or not, but it does make me think a little.


Anonymous said...


I struggled with friendships. People who let me down during Will's illness and after his death. Some I released because it became obvious that we weren't truly friends but just people who shared moments in time that while good - did not make us true friends. Others I kept and worked on and "got over myself" because I needed to acknowledge that I was perhaps expecting too much and that their inability to match my needs didn't invalidate our relationships.

Catch and release seems to me to be the hallmark of online friendships however. Twice - once quite recently - I have been "released" without so much as a 'by your leave". It's hurtful and I get totally what Denver is saying. Some people seem to just want the affirmations and to be accepted for themselves while not giving that back. But perhaps I am expecting to much from this medium.

Since it is hard for me to make friends (has always been due to - I think - the circumstances I was raised in), I take offerings of friendship and shunnings by people I thought really liked me, quite seriously. Too seriously Rob would say.

Thought provoking as always. Thanks for sharing:)

TigereyeSal said...

Great post, Marsha. Your writing this summer has been getting better and better, and I'm glad to be along for the ride.


Anonymous said...

What makes the release even harder is trying to recatch the friendship. If you have been released and still hurting just remember

"Forgivness is the key to your unhappiness."
author unknown

Marsha said...

I guess the flip side to that would be that the friend would have to want to be "re-caught". I was thinking about this yesterday--sometimes there is nothing you can do, but love the person and hope they extend the same amount of grace to you.

Anonymous said...

It's not about catching again. A person doesn't want to when the release is deliberate and not simply a fade away. There is losing touch and then there is severing. The latter to me is what catch and release is. You've gotten what you wanted and so the other is abandoned. That is were the hurt lies.

It's not a question of forgiveness. It's an issue about closure for yourself and reminding yourself that there is nothing wrong with you. You are not a freak. You are not loser. Whatever the trouble was lies with the other person. But it's difficult to hold that thought being raised in a world where we are taught to question our own actions more than the actions of others.