I have taken up fishing.
Okay, perhaps that’s slightly overstated. I have spent a few hours casting a line over the side of a boat in hopes of catching dinner.
That’s actually not accurate either.
I never really expect to catch anything. However, two years ago I lassoed a fish in a lake near Yellowknife while visiting our son and the camp where he worked. Yes, I did write lassoed.
Somehow I managed to wrap the line around the belly of a fish enough times to drag him in (for the record, a fish being pulled in sideways feels a lot bigger than he is!). While I did successfully land the unsuspecting little fella, I let him go. It hardly felt fair to keep him after my cowboy antics.
Truthfully, my ideal for fishing is a worm on a hook (that someone else attached) dangling off the edge of a boat while I sit in a comfy chair with a cold bottle of water, reading an engaging book. I’ve heard myself say out loud that I’m a “process person.” I don’t need to catch anything to enjoy the time with my husband on the lake.
But secretly I’ve wondered if that’s really true. I do have a competitive streak and the thought of thousands of Nemo’s avoiding my hook and skunking me does stir something. I considered the possibility that my laisse faire attitude might be a cover protecting my ego in case I leave the water empty handed.
Well, last week I lounged on a boat deck while my spinner or bobber or something-or-other lazily dragged through the water tempting the locals. The drag of the crafts’ movement kept the rod consistently flexed toward my line. I watched the clouds, hoping my fish-whisper side would emerge and I’d catch the big one.
A tug. Then nothing. Another tiniest of changes in the pull on my line. “I think I have a fish,” I announced with the bravado and certainty of a slug.
“Yes, you do!” shouted my cheerleading husband as I reeled in supper.
“Are you sure?” I questioned. “It’s not putting up much of a fight.”
Most seven-inch rainbow trout don’t pull their captors overboard.
So much for supper. He wasn’t even an appy for one so I set him free to live another day. Well, let’s be honest. Bill unhooked him and encouraged him to swim on.
I spent the rest of our outing pondering how relatively unsatisfying my catch of the day felt. There was a twinge of adrenaline when I realized I had, in fact, caught something. But overall I recognized that I like the idea of catching a fish more than the real deal.
I don’t love seeing the little guy hanging from the line, hooked and helpless. I felt more excitement watching him swim away from the boat knowing he could go off with a story to tell.
Perhaps it’s enough to acknowledge that sometimes hopes and expectations don’t line up with reality. And maybe it’s even good to test out some of those hidden longings to see if, in fact, it truly is something I’m passionate about.
I’ll keep fishing here and there…with my book and cushy chair – knowing that the fish don’t have much to fear.
With love and gratitude,
A lake has many moods.
Recently we were blessed with family vacation time in a home overlooking water contained by rolling foothills - an idyllic, beautiful and unpredictable setting.
One day held choppy waters and blue skies and we awoke the next morning to heavy fire-smoke and only the faintest lake ripples. Two days later we experienced four foot swells, white caps and wind gusts that stole our little float tube. Another 24 hours and presto, no wind, no smoke, no waves and blistering heat.
The lake's ever-changing presentation felt like mood-swings - from angry, relentless waves battering the shore to placid, calm hours with periods of intermittent gusts.
As I lounged and read on an inflated island one afternoon, the gentle rocking of my floating paradise began lulling me to sleep. Without warning, the wind hit with a vengeance, slamming water against the vinyl walls sending the island into heaving contortions. Out of the blue, my peace was disturbed.
Isn't that so much like life?
We carry on with our day, generally content and in an agreeable space, when a word, (or lack of words), someone's facial expression, an event, or even a smell triggers an intense reaction from deep within and we are transported to a rocking island of emotion, potentially feeling battered and at risk of sinking.
I'm so thankful I don't need to stay there.
My brain has stored sensory information - good and bad - since before I met this world. Something in my present world can tap into my emotional memory causing a flood of emotion, often disproportionate to the current situation.
However, unlike the lake which is at the mercy of the wind, I do not have to be swamped or swept away by the feelings. I can engage a different part of my brain - the thinking, logical portion - and, as I like to say, have a meeting with myself. It can sound like this:
"Wait a minute. What's really going on here? These feelings don't match what just happened. I'm not five anymore. What response am I going to choose as an adult?"
My emotional reaction can turn to an intentional response in seconds. Can - if I choose to engage my adult brain and not let my inner landscape be blown and tossed about.
I find my unexpected reactions can serve a purpose, leading to greater self-awareness, and, when placed before God, provide opportunity for healing, growth and even beauty, much like our capricious lake displayed.
The same powerful winds that caused damaging waves cleared away smoke and dramatically improved air quality. The passive, still water allowed algae to accumulate, painting the beach lime green and inviting thousands of tiny fish to dine.
Perhaps it's about how I look at what I see.
With love and gratitude,
So, about June.
Renovations have a way of eating up spare moments – one more wall to paint. Oh, we missed patching that nail hole. What safe place did we store those outlet covers?
And before I knew it, my week or two off from writing became six. Time does seem to fly.
During my post-surgery days – three years ago – my husband read to me, largely to pass the hours. (One with a wired-shut jaw does not make an engaging conversational partner.) Little did we know that a new shared activity would develop.
Our most recent read has been The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. It’s a short novel capturing a few people’s relationship with time. Some want it to rush forward. Others beg the clock to slow. More time. Less time.
It’s given me pause to consider my time. In the book Albom writes, “Before you measure the years, you measure the days.” I recall teaching time management sessions and asking class members, “When you crawl into bed at night, do you feel satisfied, content or do you rehearse the day with regret and frustration? One woman’s response stands out. “Seriously? Crawl into bed? That would be a luxury. I collapse into bed every night exhausted and then wonder what I did all day.”
Another long-ago coaching client repeatedly shared remorse over her use of time in the past. She wore “all those wasted years” like a name tag and spent countless hours ruminating over opportunities missed.
It felt like an unfortunate paradox. She couldn’t seem to grasp that time spent regretting time wasted is actually more time wasted. Hours add up to days which add up to years - more wasted years.
Recently we attended the memorial of a man who spent his life loving God and serving people. The bulletin at his service shared these words:
The time is short, the years are flying,
Like tempest clouds along the sky;
Today we smile, and weep, and labor,
Tomorrow we in silence lie.
The time is short, away with malice,
With sharp rejoinder, keen retort!
Away with harsh and cruel judgments,
With deeds unkind - the time is short.
We have no time for aimless drifting,
For idle dream, for selfish end,
No time for languid, weak endeavor,
Our strength on worthless task to spend.
Then, at our best let each be living,
Full soon will sound life's evening bell.
Be this our aim to find our duty;
Be this our prayer, to do it well.
It is my prayer that the minutes of this day will add up to a life well-lived.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst