“It's a beautiful morning…”
Dateline: Toyota Bonus Bucks Sunrise
I believe life happens at 1/1,000 of a second.
Our minds make it a movie, our hearts, make it a photograph.
Tell me this has never happened to you, one special moment in time just seems to linger, to stretch, to stop.
Mostly, it is just random, a connection made between you and whatever you happen to be looking at.
Not Déjà vu, it is as if the universe had its finger on the shutter button and just went,
“…to see the sun rise…”
I was standing on the front deck of the boat, boat #78, 3rd flight of the Toyota Bonus Bucks Tournament.
It was 15 minutes to first safe light.
The water was calm, the sky had streaks of day mixed with last night.
With all the lights on the boats, I knew how Christmas tree ornaments on the tree feel when the tiny lights are turned on.
Out east the sun was just winning the battle with the clouds, one cloud covered the top, another the bottom, in between lived a bright orange blob.
And the national anthem was playing.
I stood there with my green Tilley hat over my heart, stood straight looking at the flag, but then, for a second I turned to my left,
and as I did, James Overstreet turned to his right at the same moment, and for just a second our eyes locked, and we both just smiled and looked back at the flag.
“db, I tell all the guys all the time to just stop and look around; we are all just visitors here, enjoy the ride.”
Overstreet, ‘Street as I know him, is sipping some energy drink; he and our good friend, Steve Bowman, just weighed in a 9-pound sack, good enough to be in the money, me I caught one fish, it weighed .9 pounds but the 90-degree heat was to much for this beat up body so I was back on shore and in a/c by 11 a.m.
Normally, ‘Street and I work pretty much all the events together, but don’t get to hang around much; he does his thing, I do mine, and then we leave for the next B.A.S.S. gig.
Today, though, we were competitors, are friends, and so I had the chance to talk with him a bit.
‘Street: “Even though I don’t have a camera, I still see things as scenes, as photographs.”
“You remember this morning at launch.”
“Yeah, man, what was it that had the two of us turn at just that exact moment and look at each other; to me, that’s a moment frozen in time.”
“ You know, ‘street, in a weird sort of way I think those frozen moments in time are a gift from the universe; it is as if the universe wanted us to slow down for a second just so that we could see just how good this could be, how great life could be if we all could just make those moments stretch out.”
“Man, I’m fascinated by the frozen moments in time, that 1/1,000 of a second that will never happen again and that most people will never get to see. Tell you, I almost get emotional when I’m shooting the winner on the stage and I have the camera on burst shooting one frame after another; back in the room when I look at it frame by frame, I can see the guys facial expression change in EVERY frame as he realizes what’s just happened.”
I think when that happens, an innocent look between friends, between strangers, that 1/1,000th of a second happens because the universe doesn’t let anything else get in the way of the moment.”
“…It's moments like this that make me wish I could freeze frame time …”
“What was that all about Jimmy?”
I don’t say anything; if he wants to, he will.
“I pray for our safety, I pray for my family, and I pray for my little baby boy.”
Later in the day he told me, “It’s always the same prayer, The Lord’s Prayer.”
Up until yesterday, I had never met Jimmy, so for the 3 1/2 hours we spend out on the water he would tell me where to throw the shaky head, or the topwater lure thing, but then he would ask questions.
“In all the sports you have covered, which one was your favorite?”
“Really, not the NFL?”
“Jimmy, no offense to the NFL and its players but if I went to an NFL practice and I picked up a football and threw it on the field, no one would pick it up. If I invited all 99 Elite anglers to my house for a barbecue and I put a 55-gallon drum in the backyard and filled it with water…99 dudes would be pitchin’ or flippin’ to it.”
Jimmy just laughed and shook his head, yes, and I know he was thinking how he would pitch to the 55 gallon drum now in his mind.
It was getting real hot, and I was melting so I sat down in the passengers seat and sort of drop shotted off the side of the boat. Jimmy was throwing at and around some huge docked barges, aiming mainly for the shaded area, large splashes were happening all around us.
“Did you see that fish roll?”
Another big splash, “So, Jimmy, when you see a fish jump like that do you throw at that spot?”
“Yeah, I do.”
So I stood up and made a perfect overhead cast that went out for probably 20 yards, maybe 12-15 feet in the air and promptly hooks the barge. Technically, I caught several tons today.
Jimmy hands me his rod and reel, “I’ll free that. You have any kids?”
“Yeah, two, Ashley almost 30, Jimmy almost 25, you?”
Jimmy unsnags my catch, “I have a young son, he’s 13 weeks old. I never thought I would ever say this but I have so much fun just sitting on the floor and eating Cheerios with him….”
And Jimmy is no longer fishing, but tasting Cheerios, me I’m smelling baby shampoo because at 13 weeks I would pick up both my children and rub noses until they started giggling and putting their hands on my face.
“What’s your son’s name?”
“Wheeler…I named him after this lake. It’s where my Daddy first took me fishing and it’s where I plan to take him fishing as well.”
Cheerios, and baby shampoo, the best catch of our day.
“…watch the world come alive…”
“Hi, I’m Jerry….and I’m Linda.”
Jimmy and I have just pulled up on a couple fishing the tournament. I shout “Where you guys from?”
“Pittsburgh, where in Pittsburgh…”
They tell me the name of a town just one town over from where I used to live in Pittsburgh.
“Really, how cool, I used to work in Pittsburgh at WPXI….”
“Wow, did you know…”
And out on the water during the Toyota Bonus Bucks Tournament I’m suddenly transported back to Pittsburgh circa 1993, television news personality names are being shouted back and forth between boats, names and people I haven’t thought of in 20 years.
“How’s it going?” I ask Linda not Jerry.
“Great,” and both laugh, both look at each other, smile.
I shout out to them, “How’s the fishing?”
“Not good,” one of them shouts back but, “we’re having a great time.”
Giggles from the boat with Pennsylvania tags.
“...but it's moments like these that make me wish…”
To be someone else has always been my goal, as a writer.
To be somewhere else has always been my goal, as a writer.
And to take you there with me.
We in the media are blessed, and often we forget that, but we are blessed to be your eyes, your ears, and that is all we are supposed to be…your designated driver to the places you’re not.
Sometimes, though, the table gets flipped, and you take us, you become the driver, we become just the riders of your tour,
and today that happened to me,
I stepped on board your life,
with virgin eyes.
And I am more convinced now, that at its core, at your core, it’s not about the fish.
It’s about those who fish. With you, against you, doesn’t seem to matter, on the water, all are family.
‘Street told me he tells people, “Learn to be happy wherever you are.”
I would tell you, take life, 1/1000th of a second at a time.
And today showed me, that’s the best way to describe fishing,
days on the water are gifts of life at 1/1000th of a second, moments with nothing getting in the way.
Thank you for giving me these moments of your time, many of them I will never forget.
It sounds corny but now that I have been standing there with you, I will always cherish 15 minutes ‘til first safe light, calm water, a ball of orange in the sky, and the song of us, the national anthem, but I suspect, those are special to you as well.
Life at 1/1000th of a second,
moments without interference,
on a planet colored,
“…I could freeze frame time.”
“Freeze Frame Time”