Figure out what’s really important in life
By: John Martino
In today’s hectic world, almost everyone is extremely busy. Sometimes you have to make time for what is really important and be smart enough to know the difference. In life, it can be the little things that mean the most.
Our much awaited spring season is just around the corner when many outdoor opportunities are ready to bust loose. Crappie will be spawning and easy to catch. Succulent morels will start sprouting from forest floors and one of my favorites, hunting wild turkeys, is on the horizon.
This year has been crazy, in terms of work. My full time job has been out of control busy and no matter how much my staff and I work, it seems getting completely caught up is only a pipe dream.
When you compound that with trying to help family and friends, spare time seems to be nonexistent. That’s not including all the tasks that need done trying to keep our own place looking half way respectable. I know some of you may be thinking, it already doesn’t, so why worry about it.
I have been blessed with a large family including several nephews. One in particular, Cole Stephenson or Cole-Man, as I call him, was born and raised in Chicago. His mother is a circuit court judge and his father an attorney. Although they are wonderful parents, they lack the knowledge of outdoor pursuits and locations to pursue them.
He is their only son, growing up with three older sisters. For someone living in one of the nation’s largest cities, he is totally infected with the desire to hunt and fish. I wonder where he gets that from!
But thanks to him I learned a valuable lesson, one I will never forget.
Since his early childhood we have spent many memorable days afield, whether in search of small game or white tailed deer. We were side-by-side when he collected his first several deer. They were special times we will always share together.
The two of us have also enjoyed many memorable fishing trips, even traveling out of state for special adventures. “Your mom and dad would have a total fit if they knew how Uncle John really was, wouldn’t they?” I asked, after a particular incident revealed one of my more irreverent moments on our way to Kentucky Lake. “Yes they would,” he said beaming me a smile. “But that’s why I love being with you so much.” Those words will never be forgotten.
But the lesson he taught me took place a few years ago. The trips mentioned previously were all planned, but this time was different.
It was a weekend when Cole unexpectedly came to Kokomo to visit the Martino side of his family. Of course he packed several rods and a tackle bag full of artificial lures. He never leaves home without them.
“Can you pick me up after work,” read the text he sent after arriving in Kokomo. Although I relish every opportunity to visit with my nephew the timing was so wrong. I knew even making a few hours available would be out of the question and there was no doubt that would be the first thing out of his mouth. I immediately began organizing thoughts in my head on how to explain this would be one instance where I just didn’t have the time. I justified it by thinking this would be a good lesson in life. A person just cannot do what they want every time they want. There are times when work and other necessary responsibilities should be a priority.
His eyes lit up when I walked into the room and he immediately came to me. “Can we go fishing?” he asked with excitement in his eyes. The thoughts I previously organized began to flow. I began explaining this would be one time when Uncle John just didn’t have the time. I explained how I had to go into work the following afternoon, had to help his Uncle build his new residence plus had chores to do at my own house before things got completely out of hand. “I understand,” he said solemnly, putting his head down slowly, turning to walk away.
I sat down for a minute and began thinking what was really important. I did have to go into work the following afternoon and that was something that couldn’t be changed. But would taking an evening off from chores really matter? Would waiting an extra day to mow grass really make that big of a difference? So what if I didn’t get some of the other small projects completed. They would still be there and I could do them another day. Opportunities to spend time with my nephew only take place a handful of days a year.
“What about this,” I said to Cole, a few minutes later. “How about you spend the night with us and we will fish a pond right before dark this evening then we’ll go hit another pond right at daylight tomorrow for an hour or two?” His eyes lit up like spotlights. “I’ll go grab my stuff,” he said, as he spun around on his heels.
On our way home, with only several hours of daylight left, we could see an approaching storm. “Looks like we got some weather,” I said, as we headed west out of town. “We have fished in the rain before,” he said undeterred. “We fished all day in the rain on Kentucky Lake,” he added. I explained I had no problem fishing in the rain but would not risk our lives if there was any thunder or lightening. I had no sooner spoken those words when a lightening bolt arced across the western sky.
As luck would have it the storm quickly passed and a short time later we found ourselves lobbing spinner baits and soft plastics into the rippling waters of close by pond. “Got one,” Cole said, his rod bent under the weight of a good fish. He soon hefted a two pound bass from the water. By darkness we both ended up catching and releasing our limits of largemouth bass.
Daylight had barely broken the following morning when we made short trip to another pond. We threw spinner baits and soft plastics again and totally had a blast.
“Well buddy, I do really have to go now,” I said, putting an end to our trip. “Thanks a lot Uncle John for making time to take me fishing,” he said, staring straight into my eyes.
It was at that moment that I realized what was really important. It wasn’t pouring concrete or driving nails. It sure wasn’t mowing grass, trimming trees and clearing brush. It was spending time with a youngster, even though Cole is in his teens now.
In reality, we only spent several hours together, but we will both have a lifetime savoring it! So if a child asks to spend some time outdoors, especially with our beautiful spring season just around the corner, take a minute to figure out what is really important.
Below a Photo aof John's Nephew Cole. Cut Line;