I’ve been thinking about taking up fishing lately. The last time I went fishing was with my grandfather. I was never into it because I was a teenager and teenagers are rude. A kid of the 80s, my biggest concerns were whether to get the Run DMC album or go for the latest Michael Jackson release. It says a lot about my age that Michael Jackson was still cool when I was in middle and high school.
One of my biggest regrets is that I took my grandfather’s fishing trips as little more than necessary inconveniences. While he fished I stayed in his car and listened to the radio.
Now my grandfather is dead and I miss him more than ever.
Since I’ve gotten older, my fishing trips have consisted of whatever is on sale at the Harris Teeter seafood section. I ‘ve made way too many bad mistakes in my life, and I think fishing has become a way for me to dig back into the past and maybe find some of the innocence I possessed as a child . . . at least before I grew too old and too cool to be burdened by Papaw’s fishing-tales of life in the Appalachians when he was a boy.
And now here I am. So far from grace and youth that everything I took for granted is dirt and dust. I cannot bring my grandfather back, no matter how well I manage to cast my line into the water. It just won’t reach that far.
Nothing this side of the grave ever will.
Living here in Wilmington, North Carolina, something in the salty ocean air has grabbed ahold of me. I live four miles from the water’s edge. And that salt . . . that clean, refreshing salt makes me feel pleasantly unsettled. Salt has always been a key alchemical element, and there is alchemy and magic in the crash of the Atlantic’s waters on the nearby shore. I can hear its mysterious voice beckoning—a sub-vocal beckoning to something paradoxically inchoate yet antediluvian.
A need to find some kind of communion linking me to a past that I once shrugged my shoulders to and now mourn because it is beyond my grasp.
I watched the sun rise over the sea this morning. Its first touch on the horizon fired the low clouds on the horizon a brilliant bright red, where dawn gave birth to the earth that is newborn every morning. Behind me the moon was at its full and setting as clouds passing in front of it broke and were haloed in its silvery sheen. Both were at opposite poles, and rarely have I had a chance to see something so beautiful and poignant.
I will look forward to getting out onto the pier, but I know it will be a lonely pilgrimage. Maybe I will catch a bit of those moments I let slip through my fingers so long ago. Yet time only allows us a finite amount of moments with those we love. I grieve over the loss of mine.