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Eric Engel

Snagging a keeper

Thank you, Mom, for the inspiration …

I was furious this morning. I was thinking about a certain person that had angered me in a way in which I hadn’t been angered in a long time. This person’s actions were not even directed toward me, yet I felt this person had pursued a route of interaction with another you just shouldn't pursue. I care about both of these people unconditionally, and I felt great agitation toward the afflicter and sensed the crushing blow the afflicted must have felt.

My family and I just returned from our most recent vacation to Ontario, Canada. It is a location we frequent with consistency every year. My mother spent a portion of her childhood in or around that area, and her siblings and all of their wives, children and friends who have all inhabited Canadian wilderness for the majority of their lives, begin celebrating our arrival with vast enthusiasm before they even see the whites of our eyes. I do the same.

From the initial hug to the final handshake, fish practically jump into the boats I find myself in, and campfires burn as if their sole source of fuel is the laughter heard from the stories being told. I often find my vision lost in the landscape of water seemingly flattened by the horizon of pine as the vessel I’m in crests across the fluctuating glasswork, and I cannot, by definition, will myself any closer to the cartoon characters that moonlight as clouds powdering the cheeks of the baby blue sky. One loon’s coos crawl across the lake to its lover, and I am inebriated by nature’s penmanship.

This year was no different. It was more profound than any other before it, in fact, and yet there was situational tension between individuals that could be cut like a walleye moments before the fry. Some of the inhibition lies within days long since passed, while other aspects persistent in their problematic gash are as current as the breath being taken. While I understand most every angle that brings to light these frictions of the flesh, I am rarely in accordance with their existence. A few brutally truthful words given by an individual I hold closer to home than most any other found my ears today, and they were seasoned with the spices of a recollecting perspective.

I cannot cure every ailment in another, and some days I even have trouble doing so for myself. There are places we’ve all been, and situations we’ve all encountered that we dread the memory of, but those experiences are a vital portion of the fundamental figments of growth that seem so animate that you think you can reach out and grab them like a fish you’ve reeled to the surface. I’ve cast many a lonely line that have left me an empty hook upon its return to the boat, but it’s the finger-licking flavors fresh off the fire that have helped me realize the necessity for both.

Do I love each member of my family? With all my heart. Have I ever let them down? Each and every one. Have I ever been purposely cruel to them? Regretfully so. Am I remorseful for those rusty hooks? Each moment I exist. Do I need them in order to succeed in life? Without a shadow of a doubt. Do they trust me and rely on me? I pray they do. Am I a better person for having known them? Each day that I wake. Are you a trophy catch to me? If you can see my heart, then the answer is yes.

Forgive and forgive those unworthy as well, for anger knows no boundaries, anger has no sense.

Eric Engel, formerly of Tiskilwa but now of Madison, Wis., is a graduate of Northern Arizona University. He can be reached by e-mail at eazywritin84@yahoo.com.

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