storytelling

ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER

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ONE DAY AT A TIME, I’LL DO MY DAMNEDEST TO TOW THE LINE.


My four-year-old son has become obsessed with hockey over the last year. We’ve enjoyed a few collegiate games together and he can’t get enough. Often, at home he pretends he’s a hockey player. Winter gloves, boots, pool goggles, and a flap eared hat provide his makeshift pads. At his first hockey game, one of the assistant coaches gave him a broken stick that’s just his height. It is one of his most prized possessions.

My brother Shane and I have been making up for the lost 28 years behind us. We recently discovered that neither of has ice-skated. The closest to skating that I’d ever come was watching The Mighty Ducks. This fit perfectly in line with my son’s desire to learn. We all strapped skates to our feet and wobbled to the ice entrance.

“Well, brother, I guess this is where we learn to skate,” said Shane.

I do not enjoy doing things I am not good at. I do not enjoy looking like a fool in front of people. I really do not enjoy the idea of hurting a fellow skater because of my lack of coordination. All of these things make me uncomfortable, but when your four-year-old wants you to teach him how to ice-skate, you Zamboni your pride and figure it out.

I learned to “ice-skate” in about two minutes. Let’s be clear, I’m not skating, I’m just using only one hand on the wall and not falling. My son’s legs had very different plans than the rest of his body when on the ice. With an adult on either side he focused on all he had on staying upright. Much like me, he gets frustrated at not being good at things. A frustration set in that only Cheetos and chocolate milk could cure. We sat and snacked and you could see his aggravated processing at his less than successful first attempt. I’m preparing my dad speech about how he tried really hard and that was okay, that I was proud of him for who he was and not because of the things that succeeded at.

He wiped his face with his sleeve.

Stood up.

“I’m gonna go get better, Papa.”

None of use became expert skaters that day. I doubt we will be making our figure skating debuts anytime within the next decade. That day, the three of us didn’t give up. We struggled together, and it wasn’t pretty. I focused on the experience. Shane and I have a lot of firsts to check off. We got to hold my son’s hands and walk him through a new experience.  

I know I will fall short, but my new goal is to focus on more things I’m not very good at. To keep pushing myself to get uncomfortable, and see every thing around me. If it ain’t pretty, I’ll just go get better.   

 

Jake Bradley Turner

(Casey Joe Collins)

YOU GET A LINE, AND I'LL GET A POLE, HONEY

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“Walk down them dusty, winding roads, I’m going to lay my head in Hungry Hollow.”


Maybe it’s being in my thirties or maybe it’s just stage of life, but I’ve been dwelling on who I am and where I came from. So much of me was transformed on Ozarks dirt, running around hills and trees. I spent hours on the weekends and weeks during the summer by myself on those beautiful acres. Dad started taking me fishing soon after he adopted me. I am surprised we didn’t go on day one.

I’ve been blessed (and cursed) with a very vivid memory. To this day, smells, temperatures, or sounds transport me to childhood. Sometimes it is crisp air in my lungs early in the morning. Other times I can smell the dense red clay or wild strawberries growing along the creek. Lately, there have been a lot of dots connected to those times and the lessons they were starting to teach me.

Fishing can be frustrating when you’re a kid with boundless energy. I will never forget the look dad gave me when I mindlessly started throwing rocks in the water.

“You’re scaring of the fish!” No, Dad. I’m recreating the battle at Wilson’s Creek, and those rocks are cannon balls.

As the years floated by my attention span for standing in a single place increased. I wanted to know the secret and mystery to catching fish. Mornings turned to evenings and I was still wading up and down Flat Creek on my hunt for the biggest Small Mouth Bass I could land. While I caught some wonderful fish, I hooked something greater: patience.

I’m still trying reel that one in.

-Gone Fishin’