Recently, My Wife and I took the boys up to a lake cottage in Michigan for some fishing. We loaded up the tackle, swim trunks, snacks, and everything we might need while away for a weekend to unplug and reconnect with one another. At first it was a little frustration on my part, as being a father of 2 teenagers and a nine year old would mean much time spent fixing tangled lines, taking fish off the hook, tying on hooks and etc. And it first it was just that. I offered many “breath prayers’ Silent prayers along the way to help keep me on an even keel and focused. Luke caught a bass on his first cast too which was awesome! The boys, myself and my wife all had a great time! We even took the pups, who had no experienced the water yet, so we weren’t sure how they would take to it. But they absolutely loved playing in the water! They even swam out to retrieve the ball we would throw out there and we could tell they were really enjoying themselves!
The first day was friday and we pretty much just spent the day fishing, and getting settled in and getting to know the lay of the land. We had some snacks, caught some fish, and as we sort of got fished out, we decided to pull the kayaks out for a nice little change of pace and to get out on the water. As much as I love the water, and being out on it, it tends to add a little tension when there are kids involved, life jacket or no life jacket. So, at first I was a bit antsy, but that dissolved away almost immediately as I saw how easily they took to them.
I know, some of my writings now, as I have been told, are “Boring now” and I understand that. The old War Stories and etc. have long since passed and now here I am writing about life lessons and other “ho hum” stuff. But that’s what happens when things change. I don’t have any more accumulating war stories anymore. Now I write about my experiences in life, and some still are very painful, and some are really good- since I stopped shooting questionable chemicals into my arm.
But anyways, back to the idea that’s been bouncing around in my head since last weekend, and hopefully how I can encapsulate it all into one entry here.
Throughout the weekend, and, really any given day or week, we all tend to have an ongoing chemical reaction in our brains as a result of various stimuli. Something good happens with work: we feel a little reward, we will call that “+1”. Something bad happens at home: “-2”. We receive some good new: +2. etc. and on we go throughout our days constantly feeling a little bump in the positive direction, or a little bump in a negative one. An ever existing chain of experiences throughout our days that ultimately end up becoming our lives in total. Some stretches it can seem like everything is on the positive trajectory, and some negative. And either of these directions can and will ultimately end up with some type of culmination, and are often decorated with a brilliant life lesson, or memory attached to them, and then we spin off into a whole nother direction. And this weekend was not an exemption. It was truly beautiful how this whole series of moments built into one another, but it was interesting in how all the +1, +2, +5’s built into something that made me feel so very small. But small, in a very beautiful way.
As a human, I/We can tend to ride the waves of these chemical reactions and rewards in a number of ways. Especially in this day of Instant information, Social Media, and etc. And it can leave us feeling incredibly over inflated, or horribly empty, sometimes even just numb and alone. We thrive on reactions, likes, posts, recognition, appreciation, and etc. And all of our “+2′, +3’s” etc can lead us to feeling incredibly “big”, full of ego and sometimes arrogance because we have been on such a winning streak lately that we can often feel like we are invincible and giants of our little section of life here. Usually, If I am locked in enough to see the red flags of Ego returning I am able to scale myself back enough before I end up owing some amends somewhere, which usually go hand in hand, My Ego, and then owing amends that is.
But interestingly enough, During this trip to Michigan, I got to experience one of those little winning streaks, that left me feeling so incredibly small, which is actually kind of paradoxical, but in the moment it made so much sense to me.
When was the last time you felt incredibly Big? When was the last time you felt incredibly small? As humans, I feel like we tend to see things as, for the most part, bigger is better, and smaller is not so good. (insert whatever inappropriate joke you like here. lol ) But this time, it was the other way around. It was small, and it was peace, and it was just this moment. Which ended up being what I refer to as a Top 5 Moment.
Friday evening, about one hour before darkness completely swallows the Lake, trees, and settles in on us, Logan and I decide to take another spin around the lake on the kayaks, and do some fishing around the lilly pads docks and try to grab some of the bass that come into feed on the smaller ones and top water prey. It has been a very fun filled and exciting day. Lots of pictures, lots of fishing, lots of sun. We fill up a couple plastic worm bags with hooks, and soft plastic lures to push off and go after the big ones. Knowing that we are going to be out on the water, I leave my phone on the picnic table safely on shore, buckle my life jacket up, load my pole and oar, and push off onto the black looking lake and coast on out. Logan is right behind, the water is like glass, and the only sounds are the swooping birds just over head. Everything is still, and the gentle curls on the water is the only thing letting anyone know that we are out here. Random fires burn on shore throughout the lake. The sky to one side is burning orange as the sun dunks down behind the trees, and a few stars and the moon begin to take center stage. We didn’t catch one damn fish. cast after cast after cast. Nothing. It’s just a father and son, out here silently enjoying this moment. No phones, no distractions, no sound even really. Just two laser focused guys out here enjoying a quiet getaway, on a getaway out on the lake.
Seemingly out of no where, a very low rumble of thunder begins to quake and roll throughout our area. It was weird, because it felt like it was actually coming up from underneath the kayaks. But the skies were still clear, with the exception of one little peak of a high top storm cloud slowly inching its way into the horizon. Closer and Closer it got. emerging into our view of the world. At the moment, I thought absolutely nothing of it. It was just a cloud. “Hey Herb, since we’re not catching anything, you wanna go all the way out to the middle of the lake and see what we can see?” My fishing buddy asked me. And of course, I said “Let’s do it!” We bungeed our poles, and took to paddling our asses off, clear out into the middle of the massive lake. And the more we rowed, the further out we got, the more the silence grew. The shore continued to disappear, and the view of the cloud began to grow. It is now about 15 minutes before it becomes completely black outside, and the remaining sun has now illuminated this giant storm cloud like a light show. Brilliant orange, pink, and even grays light up this enormous thunder maker like a giant light bulb. We both notice it literally at the same time, and slow our kayaks to turn to face this miracle of mother nature.
Our kayaks gently bump against each other, to a complete stop and there is not a single sound to be heard anywhere. KABOOM! And a Giant bolt of lightning shoots out of the top of this cloud, as if on cue for only us to see. And again, and again. This cloud was the only one that we could see anywhere. Everything else was a deep blue or purple as night was falling. But the cloud was showing off, for just us! Bright Pink, Orange, and Grays lit up like the Fourth of July. Bolt after Bolt after Bolt. Erupting with a chorus of Raucous thunder. Strikes down, Strikes, up, three, four, five bolts at a time. It looked like one of those Plasma Ball lightning things that you put your fingers on and the little lightnings are attracted to your touch. It just rolled and rolled. Bolts from up and out the top of the cloud, even completely sideways. I have never seen anything like it, it was like a little fired up ball of static was erupting right in front of our eyes, Logan was noticeably in awe. Mouth wide open, laser focused on what he was seeing. With the exception of a few “wows” and “holy shit’s did you see that one?!” There was no sound, outside of this little rock concert we were now witnessing. Boom after Boom, and it seemed like it went on for hours, but we all know it was only just a few short minutes. But that’s the point; it DID seem like we sat out there for at least an hour. And it was very strange to me, how for that moment, I could literally see and feel these two tiny little almost insignificant little specks (us out on the lake) sitting out in the middle of what seemed to us to be a giant lake, but the lake paled in comparison to the cloud, the cloud to the sky, and the sky to the moment. And what is even cooler, is that the moment was technically the smallest of all. Just a series of chemical reactions in our brains that transmitted what we were seeing, but yet it seemed to be the biggest of all. it was very surreal. Two Tiny specks, on a “great big tiny lake”, on a tiny little section of michigan, on a tiny little rock floating in space, in a little galaxy called the milky way, which is drifting around through the vastness of space. And in this little tiny section of time, the moment seemed bigger than it all, but was the smallest of it still. I felt so fragile, vulnerable, tiny. Like the smallest of dust particles being kicked up by the hooves of horses in the battle of all time existence. It was very strange. And it was very beautiful. The way that Time, and Size seemed to intertwine so perfectly well in this little slice, for just me and Logan to enjoy.
Sometimes, we think that being important, means that we need to feel big. Sometimes, we think that being noticed means to always be seen, or felt, or celebrated. But I learned in this little bit of time and space, that sometimes, it is the moments that no one else sees, that can be the most influential, and the little tiny slices of life, with no words, and no sound, and no distractions, that can bear the most fruit. No one else on this planet got to see what we saw, or feel what we felt, from our perspective at that exact moment, and that makes it the most valuble type of moment there is. Incredibly rare and hard to come by. Small and mighty. We own that. It was absolutely awesome to see and feel and be a part of.
So no, Bigger is not always better. Seen is not always the way. Reactions and views, and certificates, and attention aren’t always the way to ones heart, or to the “good stuff”. Sometimes its the opposite. There was such Humility in this moment. To know that there is so much more that we don’t know than we do know, to know that there is such power in being small. To know that to be the right size throughout our days is a super power, and to know that time can stand still when the moment is right, was a very humble moment for me. To witness such power in nature, and power in a bonding moment with me and my son was absolutely breath taking.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the world.
Stay small my friends, stay the right size.