Beautiful and Ominous. - Fall has come to Norway and, like everywhere else, this means the light begins to yield. It does so spectacularly, but it does so nevertheless. The sun r...
Monday, August 11, 2014
The Waiting Place: trolling or bottom fishing
Sunday morning's run around town, a run to sweat Saturday night out of me, was couched between waiting songs. Early on it was Fugazi's "Waiting Room." Towards the end, it was Trampled By Turtles, "Wait So Long." And that got me thinking about waiting. And reading Dr. Seuss's "Oh the Places You'll Go" to the girls. The good doctor frequently has a lot to say to grown-ups, the same as kids. Take for example, The Waiting Place, where people end up getting stuck, waiting:
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come
or a plane to go or the mail to come
or the rain to go or the phone to ring
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
I have a short attention span. I don't sit still well. I don't have much patience, though I try to have more. Waiting does not suit me. Beckett brings it to the front, Waiting for Godot, who never shows. Fu** that.
Growing up fishing with my dad and my grandfather, out in the Bay or the Choptank River, we mostly trolled for blue fish or rock fish, often around Sharp's Island Light, dragging whatever color hose the fish seemed to be biting on that day. Trolling is an impatient man's fishing. For someone who doesn't want to just cast and fish the bottom and sit back and read, or drink a beer, chill out. To be honest, that kind of fishing, that kind of waiting has a great appeal to me, for just being kicked back. And then there is fly fishing or casting, which might be the best of them, but I haven't done much of that.
But you get to a point in life where, say you are 42, just to pick a number. And life has flipped itself on its head, not death or serious illness, not hunger or homelessness, not the big shit mind you, but life as you know it, nonetheless has fundamentally shifted, beneath your feet, where you don't quite trust the ground anymore. You wait for that shit to shift on you some more, or you look at where you were standing and it was right on a fu**ing fault line. And you can see that, and you step away from the fault line. You find yourself some higher ground (cue Stevie or the Chili Peppers). And you think long and hard about where you want to be standing, what you want to be doing. And you've got it in your head. You know what you need to do. And you are ready to do it. And then what happens?
Waiting. You throw your intentions out into the Universe, and you wait. And maybe fishing is the most apt metaphor for what comes next in life. You try to pick the best bait, you listen and learn where the fish are biting, you decide what you want to catch, and then you cast. And then you wait. Because life. And we do spend an inordinate amount of our time... waiting.
But the thing about Dr. Seuss. He rarely leaves you hanging. He'll often give you some hope. Maybe an alternative. A way to be different. And true to form, he does, simply:
That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
I've read some fairly profound shit over my 42 years, books that have changed my life, my worldview, my thinking on about every level. And it's funny how much of that stuff Dr. Seuss can pack into any number of his "children's" books.
Sunday evening, I had dinner, had a Dale's, and was folding laundry. Typical Sunday evening. The Nats were playing the Braves on Sunday night baseball. I got a text message from a friend that said, paddleboarding in Oxford, leave at 7pm. It was 6:40pm. It wasn't how I had figured the evening at that point. Instead, I was going to be... waiting.
I'm in. See you down there. We put in, paddled around Batchelor's Point, into a choppy, windy Choptank River. we rounded into Boone Creek and literally surfed waves up to the sand bar. The super moon was huge on the horizon. There were herons, birds, glassy water. This is where we skimboarded for hours in high school. Joel snapped some photos. It was getting dark. We were dreading the likely rough paddle back.
When we left Boone Creek, the wind had laid down a bit and was at our backs, with the current. The waves pushed us, from behind, surfing. It was the exact opposite of the paddle out. It was an effortless floating. As we got back to the beach, the moon was huge and bright and beaming off the river. It's the kind of thing you don't see, the kind of evening/sunset/night you don't have, if you're just waiting. Nope. It's where Boom Bands are playing. And you need to be ready for anything under the sky.