Monday, December 28, 2020

You Get What You "Fish" For (Or, Midget Fishing with Sterling)

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

Still. The surface of the water was a perfect sheet of reflective glass. It was the silence of it all that really gripped me. Ten months of isolation in an urban 700 square foot apartment that I nearly never leave has provided a stark contrast to this natural expanse. There were no lights, no sounds of construction, no barking dogs, no honking horns. I couldn't even hear the sound of distant traffic. Just... silence.

I swear that I could breathe in peace. It filled my lungs with a crisp presence. It possessed me. I listened hard. I could hear the distant chatter of a squirrel, nothing else.

She sat there on the dock of the bay. Watching her bobber drift towards her. She'll be ten years old this January, "double digits" as she likes to say. Double digits. I remember saying that myself before turning ten.

My dad and mom used to pack us up for the day and we'd head out on the lake. I remember my chubby little self stabbing night-crawlers and casting out my Zebco 33 in anticipation of a bite. Watching my daughter I'm taken back. I realize that the best moments weren't the catch... it was the fishing.

Life lately has seemed like it has been all about the results. We push deadlines, we look ahead to dates, we cross off days. My recent encounter with the COVID-19 virus and subsequent quarantine felt like a miniature prison sentence with me literally crossing off the days... but in this moment, I'm holding another Zebco pole and rather than playing the role of the child... well, it looks like I'm the daddy. And it is the fishing that has taken me back to that place of happiness.

The world for me in this moment is perfect. Sterling sits there with her baited hook... anticipating a whale. 

Yesterday we walked into Walmart down here on the border of Indiana and Kentucky. She exclaimed loud for all to hear, "Can we look for midgets?" 

I'd explained the day before that we would look for two types of bait: night-crawlers and minnows. Our little party cracked up laughing at the mental image of shopping for midgets. Aleksandra explained, "No, you retard, it's minnows, not midgets!" I had to laugh because that statement was like a doubled-down violation of politically correct speech! 

For the record, our family loves both little people and those who are experiencing developmental disabilities.

I mean... seriously people. Can we all just inhale? 2020 has been for sure a screwed up year. We are all aggravated, irritated, inconvenienced, frustrated, and legitimately devastated. It has been a year of loss. I've even had friends lose loved ones and struggle with their businesses. This COVID-19 garbage has touched us all.

My mind races with all the thoughts of our reality... politics, racism, masks, closed businesses, vaccines, stock markets, social distancing, cancelled holidays and cancelled plans...


I'm brought back to the present. It is just me and my youngest on the docks here on the waters that are fed by the Ohio River. Breathe deep, the world is not contaminated here. I'm just a dad with a daughter. I'm teaching her how to bait a hook and clear a line. We're casting and reeling and sharing the day. This sham of a reality cannot invade here. We are authentically together in the moment and we are happy here. 

We didn't catch a single fish. But we caught the moment... while I was fishing with midgets with Sterling.