Necessity and invention


I was walking with my family in New York at Christmas time, taking in all the sights and lights along with short breaths of frigid air.  From the top of the Empire State building, to the giant piano at FAO Schwartz, to a giant hot fudge sundae at Serendipity – NYC is indeed a magical place to spend the holidays.


One of the most impressive things I saw however, was not a monument, not a landmark, not a broadway show. 
It was a man fishing.  In Greenwich Village.  In a sewer.


He was hunched over a heavy metal grate on the sidewalk, with a twisted bundle of fishing wire wrapped around the raggedy glove on his left hand.  He was teasing the line with his right hand.  I just had to stop and see what would happen next.  I had heard of giant rats and mutant alligators in the NY underground… but can you actually catch fish? 
And if you did, would you eat it?!


He called out “Yes!” and started to reel in the line slowly.  I watched with morbid curiosity and anticipation.  As the end of his line cleared the grate, I could see that it was not a hook on the line, but a small disc-shaped magnet.  Attached to the magnet was a large silver ring encrusted with jewels and, uh…something crusty. 


Only in New York!  Here it was the middle of winter and this guy was fishing for BLING with a magnet!!  I chuckled to myself as I admired his spirit.  Maybe he was desperate for money, maybe it was just a hobby… but it was a fact that he was finding opportunity in a place that no one else was willing to look.


Are you looking in EVERY nook and cranny for your next opportunity? Are you willing to do some dirty work to find it?

Explore posts in the same categories: Motivation

12 Comments on “Necessity and invention”

  1. Julia Robertson Andrews Says:

    David, your final thoughts…. Amazing! Thank you. At this very moment, Truely inspiring.

  2. Daren Wride Says:

    Excellent story David- What a great metaphor for life!
    Also a great controlling metaphor for a prize winning speech…

  3. Matt Heminger Says:

    Brought an actual tear to my eye, though that may have been the fact I was chopping onions whilst reading this…

  4. Richie Knight Says:

    Is that a real ‘sewer’ grate? Interesting choice.

  5. davidgoad Says:

    A real custom drain I found in google image search. Probably something a seafood restaurant would install in their sidewalk drain. I just loved the abstract idea of combining fishing and a grate 🙂

  6. Rick Thompson Says:

    Dave –

    I marvel at how loud a voice our interpretative lense has in every event or story we are exposed to. I couldn’t help but look through your “fish” grate and see a story about “need” and “inventor.”

    I reflect upon the occurences in my life where I have been “hunched over” something that consumed my focus. Times where I desired to obtain something that I viewed to be valuable, but at the end of the day the tough question I had to face was, “Is the true value in the pursuit of the object or was the value intrinsic to the object itself?”

    For some reason the image of this same man being crumpled over the next sewer of life in search of the next worldly treasure leaves me sad. I just wonder if no matter how great his haul may be, how successful his fishing trips become, will it ultimately make a difference?

    I find myself hoping much more for him. For him to have hope through the one source that for the entirety of his life he may not have been willing to look towards. This may for him be the true “dirty work”…to submit himself to an attractive force that is so much harder to understand than the rudimentary tools he uses to obtain what he is attracted to.

    Perhaps it is in the wide open spaces where we find it most difficult to take advantage of our true opportunities… to step into the light and to be exposed so that we can receive our free gift…our treasure that patiently awaits to be claimed.

  7. Richie Knight Says:

    Mr. Thompson, intrigued by your comments…could you broaden the comment on “…see a story about ‘need’ and ‘inventor’? And on …to step into the light and to be exposed…I am not sure I have true understanding of the meaning of those statements.

    Much obliged,


  8. Rick Thompson Says:

    Hi Rich – First a big thanks to Dave for allowing my post to appear on his blog. A first for me!

    To attempt to answer your questions I’ll clarify my lense that I viewed Dave’s story through was probably a combination of my being “lost” most of my life…in pursuit of purpose and meaning through a series of transient things and people… and my more recent lense of faith. So for me the man in the story finds his purpose through his fishing trips, pursuing “things” that he attributes value to… whereas perhaps he like me has a greater need that he may not be willing to admit…the need to know the “inventor” or “creator” of all things.

    Again I marvel at how different the same event can be interpreted based upon the lense we see it through. The real “dirty work” that I needed to do in my life was to recognize and to admit that my life was empty…no real intrinsic value…just transient pursuits of one thing, accomplishment or relationship to the next.

    Stepping into the light takes courage. I think it is safer to be immersed in “the next” than to face the reality that despite the outcome of whatever our next may be, it (if we are honest with ourselves) will not ultimately provide us with the contentment or purpose that we seek.

    For me it was horribly counterintuitive to accept that things like handing over control, being vulnerable, being humble, admitting one’s shortcomings…ultimately would allow me to find what I was looking for. Hard to admit that I had spent most of my life living in the delusion that all of the accomplishments that had come to define who I was, all the opportunities that the world had provided did not allow me to be even one step closer to having a true purpose or meaning for my life. Meaning I later found through faith.

    I guess a question I would ask in the day and age that we live in, a day where public expressions of one’s faith seemingly are being delegated more and more into the nooks and cranny’s of life, “Will we be willing to look there….into these less valued places (by worldly standards).. to take advantage of the opportunities that can only be found….. there?”

  9. Richie Knight Says:

    Mr. Thompson, Thanks for sharing the information…it is not always ‘easy’ to openly bring ones faith out into the public arena. And when one finally does there seems to be a need to ‘couch’ it in a way that will not make anyone uncomfortable.

    I too have had a very difficult time with truly understanding the need to give over control; to opening up my heart truly and wholly to Him. The delusion that we have any control at all is one of our enemies greatest lies.

    Your last question begs for furthur discussion and review: I believe that is was Martin Luther who said; “If you are a cobbler, than cobble to the Glory of God…” or something very similar. I believe the teaching was on accepting your role in life; knowing that not all are called into the church to minister but that all are priests and can/should minister right where they are…and how better can we minister than by being excellent at what we do, no matter what that job may be.

    I pray that He will afford you more opportunities to share your story; to His Glory.


    Rich Knight

  10. Rick Thompson Says:

    Thank you Rich –

    I truly appreciate your words and the opportunity to be in dialogue with you. I agree whole heartedly with what you share and appreciate the words from Martin Luther. Our light is meant to shine wherever we find ourselves postioned in life and indeed a level of excellence in what we do will give us the forum to share our faith….. as it (excellence) in itself tends to get the attention of others.

    Thank you for your prayer…I continue to try to “step out” and boldly go so to speak where others may fear to…whenever I feel the opportunity presents itself. I love to share my story openly and transparently. Generally our stories, shared in the spirit of humility and love, in my opinion, can be our greatest tool to speak into the live others.

    Again…being old school here 🙂 I have never posted a comment before on a blog…but when I read David’s story there was a strong impulse to do so…based upon how I found myself “stepping into” Dave’s well written account of his experience. Thanks for the encouragement and the role that you have played in making this new found avenue to share my faith a positive experience. I too pray that the Lord will give you many opportunities to share your heart with others as well….to His glory – Rick

  11. davidgoad Says:

    Rich and Rick:
    I’m delighted that a simple observation on my part can spark a dialogue like this in a place like this. A true opportunity indeed.
    David G.

  12. Dave Scifres Says:


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