The toe warmers jammed between my two layers of socks did not seem to be heating up. In fact, my feet were getting rather cold, but I was determined not to complain. This was part of the experience. OK, it’s a part of the experience most people try to avoid (hence the toe warmers) but what’s a numb foot on an adventure?
Best Boyfriend Mark had been waiting for this opportunity — to take me ice fishing. I had never been fishing before, ice or otherwise, and was up for giving it a try. Who knew? Maybe I was a great fisherwoman and didn’t know it.
The day after we returned from Disney, Mark eagerly waited for my call, picked me up and took me to procure my fishing license. For $29 and a few minutes of time at Dick’s Sporting Goods I became legally able to fish in New York State for a year.
We then headed out to the small boat harbor and found plenty of others already set up on the ice, some in tents, some braving the easterly wind that would bring in a general snow fall later that afternoon. We picked a spot, drilled two holes (Well, Mark drilled the holes. He wanted me to try. I declined.) and then put up the folding tent.
Mark helped me bait my hook. (And by help me, I mean he did it.) I plunked my line into my fishing hole and began to fish.
Fishing consisted of jiggling the line, waiting, jiggling the line, waiting, and occasionally checking to make sure my bait was still on my hook.
“Is there a skill to this?” I asked Mark. It seems as if the real skill in fishing is picking the right spot, although I did try to make up fish songs so that they would come and play with us.
Mark caught two fish first. Then I noticed my line starting to move away from me. I pulled the line up through the ice and — a fish! It was a smelt. I know nothing about smelt other than there is some sort of smelt festival in Lewiston every year and I find the name fun to say.
I got another smelt. Then there was a small tug on my line. I pulled it up and there was a sunfish — all colorful and pretty. I touched it briefly (meaning I put my finger on it). Mark got each fish off the hook and tossed it back into the water for me.
He caught a perch and a bass (though if put in a lineup, I’m not sure I could tell the difference just yet) but alas, I won the fish count: 5 to 4. This apparently is a slow day in ice fishing. Still, I was rather content. It was fun. It was different. It was relaxing. It was a different kind of adventure — not exactly a challenge, not quite action-packed, but one which still took me to a new place and outside of my comfort zone. All good adventures, big or small do that.
I had posted on Facebook that I was off to my first time ice fishing and a dear friend commented, “Amy, you live a cool life. You go girl!”
That made me smile. And pause.
I always wanted to live an interesting life, but never thought I did. Other people’s lives were interesting. Everyone else was cool. Me? I was boring.
But really, that was just a story I was telling myself, the story I chose to create. When I decided to choose a different story — to embrace challenges and new things and take opportunities and live from a place of joy — slowly, I began to see my life as pretty cool. I didn’t get there in one big leap. It came through choices made every day and it took a good friend to point out that what one of the things I want most for my life, I already have.
When we want to choose something different for our lives, we often seen it as needing to be big, dramatic and lasting. Often though, if we focus only on the choices we make for the day in front of us, the cumulative affect takes us to a new place, a better place, one that we otherwise couldn’t imagine if we had to sit and make a grande plan instead of letting life unfold.
We create our own story. We get to create our own adventure.
That wast the lesson the sunfish taught me as it swam back down into the icy waters of Lake Erie.