MARCH 2023 SPOTLIGHT: ALYSSA DARBY
Alyssa became a published writer at the age of 9 — and she’s never looked back. In addition to her writing, Alyssa keeps busy homeschooling her children, decorating cakes, renovating her home, and playing music.
LIFE LESSONS ON THE LAKE
eclined in my captain’s chair and soakin’ up some of that good ole lake sun on a calm day, my hands behind my head and hat over my eyes, I was startled out of my half-slumber by a big splash in the water next to the boat—just a fish. I chuckled to myself and shook my head, as it reminded me of that one time I’d gone fishin’ with Pop-pop…just as he’d said it would.
When I was a little boy, ’bout eleven years old, Pop-pop took me out on the lake, just the two of us. Pop-pop was helping me get my line ready. I remember, I was so eager to catch some fish, I was rushin’ him and fiddlin’ with everything, tellin’ him ’bout all the fish I’s gonna hook, what I’s gonna do with ’em, how much I’d fish when I’s good and grown…and knockin’ over the can of worms in my excitement. He’d just grinned, his smile lines deep and visible on his tanned face, and said, “Woah, Son. Hold yer horses. You sure are busy as popcorn on a skillet.”
“Pop-pop, why you always tellin’ me to slow down and hold my horses?” I fussed.
“I tell you what! You sit back in that there chair and let me tell you a story,” he replied.
I was itchin’ to fish, but I did as Pop-pop told me.
“Now, when I was a boy, ’bout yer age,” Pop-pop began, “I was in such a hurry to grow up, get to the next birthday or holiday, or finish dinner so I could play. I was always busy, busy.
One day my daddy—yer great granddaddy—took me and Momma on a walk through the woods on the trail to the corner store in town. I couldn’t wait to spend my nickel on a Coke, so I ran on ahead while Daddy and Momma sauntered behind.
Turns out I missed a few things that day: the pictorial fall landscape, the young deer that’d come right up to the path for pettin’, and the last walk I’d get with my momma ’fore she got sick and couldn’t get out no more. I had my mind fixed so hard on that Coke that I’d hurried right on past a memory.”
Pop-pop paused thoughtfully for a moment, then continued, “Seems ain’t none of us got the good sense God gave a rock. A rock lets life happen; we’re always looking for that next big thrill, never quite content right where we are. We get so busy we forget to rest, enjoy what we have; and when we don’t rest, we miss out on even more. Ain’t no use hurryin’ yer life away.
When you’re rushin’ to yer destination, you miss all the scenery along the way. If you’re lookin’ too far ahead, you’ll miss the lucky penny on the ground. If you’re too set on growing up, you’ll be old like me before you know it. If you skip to bakin’, yer bread’ll be flat; and when you rush to dessert, you’ll miss the meal and the family talk that comes with it—y’know, dinner’s ’bout feedin’ yer soul as much as it’s ’bout feedin’ yer belly. Life’s just like that. You’ve gotta take the veggies and meat with the sweets.
Growin’ up has its perks, holidays are fun, but it’s all those tiny moments between it all that feed yer soul. That smell that reminds ya of bakin’ bread with Mamaw, the feather that replays in yer head that time a crow got in through the chimney and yer ma chased it—” he chuckled, “chased it ’round with a broom ’til it found its way out, the splash in the lake that brings you right back to this special moment we’re sharin’ right now—these are the moments that hold memories.
Savor life a little, or you’ll feel hungry again in just a little bit…and then you’ll end up with a load of regrets,” he leaned in and snickered, “and a lot of weight gain.”
“Pop-pop, do you have a lot of regrets?” I asked.
“Son, everyone has regrets, but those regrets can turn to reconstruction if you’ve got the right attitude. When you mess up or make poor decisions, learn from it and build yerself up to do better in the future. It ain’t ever too late to do better, long as you’re still livin’.”
“Pop-pop,” I lauded, as I fixed the hat on my head and leaned back in the chair, hands crossed behind my head, “how’d you get so smart?”
“Y’know, boy,” laughed Pop-pop, “I ain’t got all these silver hairs for nothin’. They’re like medals for all the life lessons I’ve learned. Now I get to share those lessons with you, then you’ll learn yer own and share ’em with yer own youngins someday.
Here now, grab that pole and I’ll help ya bait yer hook. I think them fish are ready for us.”
How I miss those good ole days with Pop-pop! He sure was a wise man, and I am thankful for the lessons he taught me…and for that crazy jumpin’ fish for remindin’ me.
This world—it’s so full of busyness and rushin’ to the next goal or weekend that we miss out on all we have in the present. Hopes and dreams are good, but we can’t let ’em steal the blessin’s and the lessons of today. Like Pop-pop said: “Ain’t no use hurryin’ yer life away.”
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