Dateline: Seasons End…
What makes the last leaf,
What sits in the soul of the last leaf on the tree.
Give me the strength, of the last leaf.
Give me the courage, to dare the wind.
Give me the will, to hang on.
Give me the wisdom, to know which is more important, to know why,
the last leaf clings,
why, it lets go.
“…showed me visions…”
B.A.S.S 2012, began, for me, where it always begins, backstage.
With the working stiffs, the people who schlep us from event to event, build our platforms for success, clean up our mess.
They are the ones who hang the banners, but whose names never sway above the crowd.
Many of their names, belong up there, champions in what they do, but if I had the key to the auditorium, but if I had the ladder, if I had the wire I would hang a workers banner, and on it, would be one name…
I applauded Chris Lane for his Bassmaster Classic win, and for all the other wins that will come his way.
But for me, this Classic was PeeWee…after 26 years, he would no longer be back stage.
PeeWee showed me that being gentle and compassionate is not a sign of weakness, but strength, you need to be strong, to be gentle.
Inner strength is the muscle we need to build, let free the loving, caring human being inside you.
You are, what you are, be you.
PeeWee, above all, you showed me, showed all backstage this,
never take yourself to seriously,
but take seriously what it is you do.
Which is the soul, of the last leaf on the tree.
“…showed me nightmares…”
Then came regular season of B.A.S.S. 2012, and with it a poolside talk, and nightmare.
At the Bassmaster Classic Elite Angler Britt Myers came up to me and told me how “ready” he was for this season to begin, “it is going to be my year,” he said, or something to that effect it was awhile ago and I’m to lazy to dig around for my notes.
We made plans to get together and talk, and do a story about it. Those plans came together at one of the first events of the year, at “Big Show” Terry Scroggins home.
Sitting by the pool Britt told me how prepared he was, and how great the year was going to be.
And then went out in the tournament and finished…last.
Next tournament, about the same results.
But at the time, you never knew any of this…because I held the story, could of used the dudes words of success to haunt him.
You can’t get to success, without going through failure.
Britt showed me that you can’t succeed, if you don’t fail. Failure shows us what it is we don’t know. Failure leads to new ideas, new ways of doing things.
Problems, are good, problems, lead to growth
Behold the soul of the last leaf on the tree.
“…gave me dreams that never end…”
Then came Brandon.
Elite angler Brandon Palaniuk.
And his first win on the Elite tour.
Brandon, is like an adopted son to me, one of a couple on the tour, and at Bull Shoals in Arkansas he came up to me and said, “If I’m fishing on Sunday will you stay to the end.”
I said, “Yep,” and did.
And he won the shebang.
Never take your talent for granted…when you believe you have arrived, you will soon be gone.
You don’t become something, you are already something.
It is on the edge, where living happens, life is in the middle, but zest, my young friend, is out there on the edge.
And when you conqueror the edge, you will have the soul of the last leaf, on the tree.
“…showed me light out of the tunnel
when there was darkness all around instead…”
Of all the stories.
Of all the interviews.
Of all the people.
Of all the places.
It is the Central Open in Branson, Missouri, on Table Rock Lake that I will remember the most from B.A.S.S. 2012.
I will never forget all the destruction from the tornado that rocked Branson a few weeks before we got there:
And I will never forget, a quiet young man, Chad Brekke…and the Purple Heart he wore on his hat while he fished the tournament.
Never listen to those who want to limit you.
Life, is a knockdown drawn out fight.
This young man, a medic, a front line medic, went to war for us, went to war to help others on the battlefield.
And got blown up.
How fragile we, that anger happens.
How fragile we, that violence overcomes us.
This gentle, fragile young man, harbors within, the demons we unleash on each other.
This gentle, fragile young man, trapped in a wounded shell.
Every person on this planet is the same, we are all humans here, but we are also, all different. Different is at our core. It was Chad, who in spite of his physical and mental wounds showed me that we need to respect difference, need to invent communality, between us all.
That we need to stop the hurt.
That we need to stop doing this to each other.
That instead, we need to sacrifice for others.
That instead, we need to help others.
Which is what is found in the soul, of the last leaf on the tree.
“…showed me ways and means and motions…”
I know, why, the last leaf,
I know why, because I want to let go.
This season I have been treated for Prostate Cancer, they may have caught it, they may have not.
Recently, the docs found a tumor growing in my head, a Pituitary Tumor that is affecting my vision, that may, or may not be cancerous.
Soon, they will drill into my head to remove the tumor.
I know, why, the last leaf, lets go.
Life, is melody, and rhythm.
Health, is the harmony.
I don’t take myself very seriously, I do take what I do VERY seriously. I will lose me, if I lose the ability to do.
A doctor recently asked me this, “Will you still be able to write if you lose your ability to see, if your eyesight fails, will your ability to write fail as well.”
I had no answer then, but to that doctor I have an answer now.
I won’t stop doing what I love because of failure of something, you only fail when you stop doing what you love.
But I know why, the leaf lets go.
“…showed me what its like to be…”
It is not a fight I have fought alone.
My wife Barb, holds my heart, holds my hand.
The tears of my children stain my shirt.
You…and your comments, emails, prayers have been read and felt.
And then, amongst it all, I have my B.A.S.S. Elite tour roommates…Paul Elias and Shaw Grigsby. Two guys also battling health issues.
That any day without zest, zest for family, zest for faith, zest for life, any day without that zest, is a lost day.
Both Shaw and Paul have showed me that never be happy with living life in the middle, be provocative, curious, passionate about what it is you do.
Think, deep, thoughts.
But above all, laugh.
Laugh with your loved ones.
Laugh at your roommates.
Wake up smiling, and you will know why the last leaf, hangs on.
“…put my hands across the table…”
Judgment, will not be on what we have taken in our life, but what it is we have given during our lives.
To serve, instead of being served. We are put here to share, and to care.
To serve…at the last event I was at, The B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship, a young soldier/angler, Mark Pierce, brought with him two American Flags that had flown in Afghanistan and he gave the flags to two employees of B.A.S.S.
Both of whom were taken back by the gift.
Mark went on to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic and will be fishing it in 2013.
But I ask of Jon, of Tyler, the two people who got the flag gift, to do me a favor, bring with them the flags to Grand Lake, Oklahoma, bring with them the flags to the Classic arena in Tulsa, and hang them somewhere.
Because without those flags, because without those men and women soldiers who unfurl and hang them, hang them for democracy, hang them because they serve instead of being served…without them THERE WOULD BE NO CLASSIC.
Jon…Tyler…hang those flags in that arena…for freedom…and for those out there who protect our freedom.
Hang them for that gift those men and women in the armed forces…give us all.
Freedom, found in the soul of the last leaf, that refuses to let go.
“…gave me knowledge of myself…”
B.A.S.S. 2012, showed me…me.
176 days on the road.
Thousands of miles.
Thousands of faces.
In the long run, being decent wins.
You may not know it by watching the news or reading headlines, but if you leave your home for 176 days, drive all over this land of ours, see America up close, the people of it, not the P.R. of it…we are a nation of decent folks.
Folks, who given a chance, by and on their own without any government doings, will do the right thing.
That the only thing I’m an expert in…is myself.
And that more, less stuff, leads to happiness. Simplicity, makes room for the imagination…personal growth is in the space between the words.
The beauty is not in what I write…but in how it makes you think…you being the expert, in you.
The Elite anglers.
The Opens anglers.
The Federation Nation members.
And you the fans,
showed me this,
Open your heart, and the universe will show you the way. To love.
B.A.S.S. 2012…season in the books.
Season in my heart.
To you, all of you out there who ain’t me.
Meaning all those who I’ve come across this season, all of those who I have connected with, all of those who have touched my heart, know this, it is you who have,
Live the way you want others to live.
Find your own inner peace, if everyone finds the peace within them, then, and only then, will peace come to the world.
And that my friends, is what the last leaf,
is holding on for.
“…gave me very clear instructions
when I was in the dark night of the soul.”
Tore down a la Rimbaud