|Fishing with Dad|
My former self, a woman in her early 20's, is immersed in a thick patch of what some would call dark nights of the soul.
Reaching my breaking point, I get in my car and aimlessly start driving. For some unknown reason, desperation pushes me toward my father and his cabin.
The cabin is my Dad's home away from home and has been in my life since early childhood. It is here that I learned to thread a worm onto a hook, relish sunrises and listen deeply to the voices of nature. Just walking onto that familiar land soothes my soul and as I approach my dad, my stoicism crumbles. As I stand across from him, the dam breaks and uncontrolled words gush out of my mouth before I can stop them. They pack quite a punch as big tears roll down my face.
“I am so unhappy. I hate my life. I hate myself. I hate being on this planet. I want to kill myself. I don't know what to do. I am at the end of my rope.”
My dad looks at me, a bit dumbfounded. I am sure he did not intend to spend his carefree Saturday afternoon with a hysterical daughter. His brown eyes sink deeply into mine and after a minute or two of silence, his response is simple.
“Let's Go Fishing.”
Now, I don't mind telling you, this makes me so mad that I can not give voice to all of the questions that start rolling around in my head. “Did you hear what I just said? I WANT TO KILL MYSELF!! Can you not see how much pain I am in? Do you think I am joking? What good is fishing going to do? I want you to help me!”
My unacknowledged pain swells as I watch him walk toward the storage room to get the battery for the fishing boat off of the battery charger. My last glimmer of hope fades as I see him place that heavy battery on the dolly to roll it toward the lake. All I know to do is go along with him. I pick up the bucket of worms and trail behind him.
I can't remember how long we stayed on the water or if we caught any fish that afternoon. I do remember that instead of insisting that I do it for myself, Dad put those squirmy worms on my hook that day. We floated around without talking as nature held us in her arms. When we came ashore, I got out of the boat, looked at him and said, “Thank you.” I knew he had given me all he knew how to give me and in that moment, it was enough.
Dad shared his time, presence and passion for fishing with me. He separated me from the height of my angst by moving me into a state of quiet being. As I started to walk toward my car, he said, “It will pass. Things will get better.” I didn't believe him at the time but I couldn't help but notice that I felt better than I did a few hours earlier, even though I didn't understand why.
Many times, I have revisited that experience in my life. It still comforts me to this day. Why did it work? Why did going fishing make me feel better? I think it is because my dad loved fishing more than anyone could say. It was a consistent joy for him during all of the years that he lived on this earth. I thought he was lucky to find something that could capture his spirit and hold it so tightly. And it thrilled him to share his love for fishing with others. With this sharing, joy expanded. As we sat in the boat on that lake, I could feel his love for fishing and his love for me. I guess that's what I needed the most. To feel love.
It was not until I stumbled upon the world of painting that I really understood how gratifying it is to discover your true passion and share it with others. To spread the joy. To make it bigger. To make it brighter. My hope is to follow in my father's footsteps with my own unique twist. My wish is to share my passion for painting with others. Whatever comes from that will be good, even if we don't quite understand why.
It was customary to hear my dad say, "I'm gone fishin'.''
Me? Well.....I guess I'll be saying, "I'm gone paintin'.''
and you're invited too.... click below to see possibilities...
Beverly Keaton Smith
(TIP) The Intuitive Painting Place
400 Monroe Street
Clinton, MS 39056
Photo taken by Barbara Keaton