These days it can be challenging to find some good among the stories in the news. Some days you have to go out of your way to find something encouraging.
Certainly the world is under a dark cloud right now, but it is critical for your personal well-being — and those around you — to find the good in your day-to-day routine. There are countless blessings and miracles right before your eyes. All you have to do is look.
During times like these, benefit is to be garnered through regular immersion in hopeful goodness. Hope is out there and it’s abundant.
Bass fishing — or any kind of fishing for that matter; turkey hunting; being outside in general will offer hope in many forms. All you have to do is look. The miracle of spring indicates new beginnings from a season of cold.
We will defeat COVID-19. We will immerge from this time of darkness a rejuvenated people with reassessed and realigned priorities. We will come together to battle this disease, and as Americans we will prevail beyond measure.
We have to.
I’m no preacher, far from it. I’m a work in progress, a project rather, that needs regular redirection and maintenance from Fatherly hands. But my faith is important to me and my family — especially in the last few weeks I’ve been reminded of that. I have no right to preach to any of you, rather I simply want to encourage you to seek the dogwood blossom.
According to the Department of Horticulture, the wood of a dogwood has a high resistance to sudden shock. It was once used to make hay forks, hubs of small wheels, rake teeth and other early machinery needs that required durable wood components.
Like Americans, the dogwood has seen hard times, but due to a high level of durability it survived and remains.
Typically, the dogwood blooms for about 10 days during late March through April and into early May depending on the latitude. The beautiful white and/or reddish/pink blooms indicate new spring life; an exodus from winter; new beginnings; hope.
And here we are. Take comfort in the dogwoods that pepper the springtime landscape — especially those that dot the shoreline of your favorite lake — as they represent life.
After days of self-quarantined self-reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that negativity breeds more negativity.
Yet faith and positivity can move mountains.
Open a Bible to about the middle, more specifically Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and you’ll find a passage worthy of reading, regardless of the level of faith you live by. These verses, while learned during my youth, were pounding in my ears over the last few days, and I wanted to share them with you, my fellow bass fanatics.
Ecc. 3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: (2) a time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which has been planted; (3) a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; (4) a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; (5) a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; (6) a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; (7) a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak; (8) a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Sound applicable? These words were written as a reminder during hard times.
If there were ever a time to seek encouragement, seek faith, the time is now. For everything there is a season; we are enduring a season of illness, darkness and despair. But this, too, shall pass.
There is a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together. Let the lines of political party and personal differences disappear, they matter not in the grand scheme of things. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; social distancing? How good will it feel to hug your tournament partner after he sticks a 7-pounder that culls out your 1-pounder?
Bumping elbows just isn't the same.
I wish I had hugged a few of my best buddies a little harder the last time I was home in Iowa and Minnesota. I’m not sure when we’ll get to share the woods or water again, but I can assure you when the time comes, I’ll not miss the chance to give a big man-hug. For right now, we’ll refrain.
A time for love? That’s all day and every day. A time for war, and a time for peace. We are at war right now with an invisible enemy that requires attentiveness from every single one of us. And the fact is, you can’t have peace without war. Peace will come again; victory will be ours, and we will carry on as Americans always do.
Rest easy knowing there will be take-offs during misty pre-dawn mornings filled with the rich smell of 2-stroke exhaust. If you’re lucky enough to still be fishing, enjoy. But be careful and #fishsmart.
As I see the lakeshore dogwood blossoms appear alongside mighty pines, I’m reminded that the pine also has a strong effect on springtime — pollen. If you have allergies like me, you know this means misery for about a month. At least for me, it instagates intense sneezing fits, a constant runny nose, shortness of breath and eyeballs that feel like 120-grit sandpaper.
But there’s a greater purpose in the midst of the struggle.
The yellow dust is loaded with Phytoandrogens that not only fertilize neighboring pine cones, but also spreads life throughout the ecological system that countless species of bugs and plants rely on. To promote life.
Inside a pine cone is the seed that germinates for future growth — to sustain a lineage. Some pines produce pine cones that are covered in a natural resin that seals the seeds safely inside until it’s exposed to very high temperatures, such as fire.
Almost as if the tree was prepared for future devastation.
Sometimes it takes devastation and destruction to produce new life. Just as winter gives way to spring, the human race will defeat the coronavirus. This is not to make light of a highly infectious virus, but rather to seek the light among the darkness.
We will overcome.
We are in a season. A tough season that will claim and change lives, it will continue to force our society to make massive, and likely much-needed changes that will eventually be for the betterment of our culture.
As I’ve walked around my neighborhood, driven to the store to keep my cabinets (and bathroom) stocked, I’ve seen people outside together as families more than of any time in recent memory. It’s almost as if this situation has forced us to shut down the electronics, turn phones off and reacquaint ourselves with nature — even if it’s in the city.
Bassmaster’s new social campaign, which consists of these two hashtags: #fishsmart and #livesmart are meant to encourage. I’ve enjoyed the unique opportunity to take my children turkey hunting and bass fishing, and I’ve seen many other families doing the same. The result are memories like my son and daughter catching their first bass from a bed, and a couple of turkeys in the freezer.
This scary situation has forced most Americans to slow down and further invest in what matters most. Family.
A blessing in disguise? Or simply the result of a new beginning.
To #livesmart and #fishsmart may mean not going to your local lake if the boat ramps are jammed full of people, which has been the case at many fisheries across the country. It may mean showing your son or daughter how to check the oil in the truck, tie a Palomar knot or the right way to light charcoal. It may mean letting your daughter test out her growing make-up applying skills, or just reading a book.
Regardless of how you are passing the stay-at-home ordinances, keep safety at the forefront of every action; invest in those who you care the most about with a simple phone call; #livesmart by protecting your loved ones based on your decisions each day.
Look for the good that is readily available in every direction. Finding good and hope has a healing element that will benefit those who seek.
And I’m thankful for my leadership who has taken into consideration the health and well-being of its employees and their families, the fans who make B.A.S.S. what it is and the anglers who represent the everlasting brand. We will enjoy another Bassmaster Junior, High School, College, Kayak, Nation, Open and Elite Series derby very soon. Be ready.
We will launch our boats again, and we will cast a line to a familiar blow-down. And when that line hops and swims away, set the hook with reckless abandon -- then do it again, five times. Appreciate the rewards that will follow a full livewell. #fishsmart and #livesmart.
We are a blessed people in this country. Just look around, the signs are everywhere.