Fishing on Walden Pond | Part Three
“I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both.”
Dateline: The Colonial Inn
It was late afternoon.
Both of us, Dr. Mac and me, were cold, and hungry.
“Dude, you want to do the interview outside in the cold, or can when space shift this to another spot where it is warm … and has food ... journalistically, I’ll just say we did that and I won’t be kicked out of the 5th, 6th or 7th Estate … whatever it is that they call the thing.”
So we did, and consider yourself, informed.
The Colonial Inn dates back to 1889, but the building was built in 1716, in fact in 1775 it was used to store arms, and it was to this place that the British troops came to seize the weapons … and started the whole thing rolling which lead to the shot heard round the world.
Dr. Mac and I went there for the double burger with special sauce … and hot coffee.
We grabbed a table away from the couple other people in the bar area, sat across from the fireplace and talked.
Talked about what it is that drives Dr. Mac to fishing, what it is that drives so many to fishing.
Here’s the scene, low beamed ceiling, dark bar area, creaky uneven floors dating to the early 1700’s, fireplace, cloth napkins, fancy colonial style plates, small pewter creamer pitcher, two orders of fries.
Dr. Mac: “I have been looking forward to this day for months.”
Me: “Even though you knew the chance of catching fish was about nil.”
“It interrupts my hectic life, being out there in the open … dude it is just so calm and restful.”
“No thanks,” not to Dr. Mac but to the waitress who suddenly showed up asking if I wanted ketchup with my fries. Dr. Mac said yes.
I have done stories with KVD trying to seek, to drill down to the essence of the competitive nature, I’m not saying that Kevin VanDam is the greatest angler of all time. What I am saying is that in more than 20 years of covering sports, he may be the most competitive professional athlete I have ever been around. And because Kevin and I are good friends, I can ask him questions that an athlete not as close to me, wouldn’t bother to answer, truthfully.
The same hold true with Dr. Mac.
He is a man, who loves fishing, who when you ask “do you want to go fishing,” has only one answer, “yes.”
Dr. Mac: “Just the simple action of throwing a line in water calms me.”
“It is life near the bone where it is sweetest.”
As I travel this country, and meet all of you out there, and we have time to talk, I ask, over and over, not HOW you do what you do outside, but WHY you do it in the first place.
To me, the why is what being Inside The Outside is all about.
You don’t have to go out there as much as you do, yet you do, and that fascinates me.
And between the two of us, me and you talking, if we can make the WHY accessible, we will make the outside accessible to so many more people.
It is the WHY that will get them out there.
The HOW will keep them there.
Me: “So dude, why do you like fishing so much…”
Dr Mac: “I think, for me, it is as it should be, the physical connection, the being part of the whole system.”
As beings, on this planet, it is in our genes to be outside. Our primordial roots, it is where when we all started, where we were born, where we lived, worked, played, shopped.
I think, it is when we disconnect from that part of our being, we feel as if we are missing something, because we are.
Dr. Mac: “It is strange but when I’m out there, when many people are out there, it is like some part of you knows you should be standing right here at the water's edge.”
It reminds us of where it is we come from.
For some, like Dr. Mac, it is home.
“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”
There is one question I ask many of the people that come up to me to talk.
Sometimes they answer it before I’m even done askin’.
That’s because wherever your brain stores memories, this one is up front and center.
Here’s what I ask, get ready and start counting and my guess is you will be shocked how quick your answer could fly out of your mouth. Here it is:
“Who did you catch your first fish with.”
See, I told you.
Dr. Mac: “There is a whole generational aspect to fishing as well, it connects me with my past, it connects me with my future. I can tell you the exact moment, where exactly I was and who I was with when I hooked my first fish…”
And then …
“… can especially tell you about when my children caught their first fish. Remember it as if it was yesterday, where we were, what tackle we used, what the weather was like, what …”
Then came silence, silence given as I knew Dr. Mac was now not Dr., not Bob, but now was … daddy … and I gave him and his young children who are now grown men, I gave him his time to once again be in the boat with his kids.
“The true harvest of my life is intangible, a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.”
We are all,
And when, and only then, when we get that fact, will we truly become,
Until then we are just advanced primates swinging from bigger trees.
We are star stuff.
From the stars we came, and to the stars we will return.
The universe, she’s a wonderful, mysterious thing, the grandparent of Mother Earth.
Dr. Mac and I have been planning this buddy trip for some time, while on it we promised each other, that with our hectic schedule we would make time, take time to once a quarter, get away from it all, go back to simple, in honor of Mr. Henry David Thoreau, and take a buddy fishing trip somewhere.
I hope it is a promise we both can keep.
But the universe kept getting in the way of this story, until last week, and I smile as I write this, because I think I know why …
… last week as we buddied up once again, turns out to have been one week almost exactly to the day that I have to have brain surgery to remove a tumor in my brain.
Six months ago I went through seed implant for Prostate Cancer … and recently got the good news that the procedure seems to have been very successful, and the prognosis looks sweet.
My brain tumor is a Pituitary Tumor that is sitting on my optic nerve with a slight twist near my carotid artery. It is causing my pituitary gland to fail which is affecting my thyroid gland which in turn affects my adrenal gland.
As you read this surgeons are, or have gone up through my nose and cracked open the bottom of my skull to get to the tumor.
I’m sure everything will work out just fine, but complications have happened, could lose my sight, could lose much more.
So here I sit, across from a good friend, a good friend who is a doctor, a man of science, and I ask him this:
“Do prayers work.”
Lots of you have been praying for me, and I appreciate each and every one of them, ask that you don’t stop, but to a friend who has held life and death in his hands, someone who would tell me the truth I ask:
“Do prayers work.”
Dr. Mac looks up from his French Fries, takes a hit of coffee, adds more sugar and says, “Everything is connected, and I believe that science and spirituality are connected as well.”
I do not ask him if there is a God, because I believe that each and every one of us has inside of us, God.
“db … do I think that there is life after death, yes I do, I don’t know what it is, we are all made of energy, maybe it is positive energy, but do I believe there is something more, something bigger (Dr. Mac pauses for a few beats) … yeah … yes I do.”
Whatever “positive energy” is, I think it has many names.
As it should.
I think, water, to be one name.
I think, outside, to be another name.
I know for me, a tiny wooden bridge, is another name.
For Thoreau, simple, was its name.
I believe this, the universe, leaves it up to us.
We, who are all, each other.
And the star stuff within everything on this blue rock floating through space.
I thank you for all the “positive energy” you have been sending my way.
Thank you for your prayers, and the goodness they seem to bring.
With your help, your love and hope, I will see you on the other side of this surgery.
Keep zest in your life.
Turn goodness into greatness.
And BTW, I now believe the answer to the question I asked Dr. Mac,
“do prayers work,”
the answer is,
“Be not simply good; be good for something.”
This and all other quotes in italic are attributed to:
Henry David Thoreau