Saying Goodbye to Superman

Saying Goodbye to Superman

At this moment when I sat down at my computer, our one year-old golden retriever, Poppy instantly began running around the perimeter of our living room. She had a chew- toy in her mouth and was playfully doing laps; just for the fun of it.

I have to admit, this level of energy is something I may have experienced years ago, in myself, but no longer. In fact, today I am feeling like anything but Superman, and his “leaping buildings with a single bound”.

Today I am exhausted. Sunrise today marked the opening day of halibut fishing here in Puget Sound. I am the first to admit that I am not a halibut fisherman – in fact I have yet to catch one. Last year was the first time I tried, having purchased a used 19-foot aluminum fishing boat. It was a year ago that I read, listened, and watched all I could about catching one of these beasts (30-200 pounds). I however, along with many other people I talked to last year, drew a blank.

This year was posed to be different. I have spent hours getting ready for today…opening day. Two nights ago I found myself tossing and turning over any possible thing I may have forgotten to do in my preparation. That resulted in my awakening about 4:00 a.m. ready to go…one day early!

Trying to avoid the same sleepless adventure, last night, I took a couple melatonin tablets as a sleep aid. They did the trick in getting me to sleep, but I did awaken in anticipation before today’s alarm went off.

This was an absolutely beautiful, cloudless day to be on the water. The Olympic Mountains were snowcapped and the hillsides glistened in their emerald beauty. It was good to be on the water with Aarron again. Aarron is a strong 40’s something EMT who spent part of last evening’s shift saving lives, while I was gaining the benefits of the melatonin.

What happened on the water today was an eye opener for both Aarron and myself. You see, while I have never been an Olympic weightlifter, I have always been a pretty strong and virile guy. Yes, I was pleased a decade ago when I was bench-pressing 225 pounds. That was no State record, but it helped me feel healthier

I did remember that last summer’s task of hoisting heavy crab pots into my boat was more of a chore than the year before. But that was crabbing. Today was different, I would just be fishing.

As soon as I lowered my line with it’s heavy weight down to the bottom, I felt the tap, tap, tap of what appeared to be a fish biting on my bait. With the so-called Circle Hook, the advice is to let the fish “take the bait”. “Do not rear back on the pole and set the hook, this will pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth.” As such, I followed what I had been told, then bam! My line began to peel off my reel at record speed. I yelled, “Aarron, I must have a 200 pound halibut! No, no it has to be a whale!” The stout, rather short halibut pole was literally being yanked out of my hands. It was only by bracing myself and letting out line that I didn’t loose the pole and reel to the deep blue sea.

Superman could have held on to the fishing pole and reel, I could not. The strength in my arms quickly began to weaken. My left elbow with its lingering tendonitis (from a month-long fly fishing trip to Montana last September) began to shout at me. Partly out of strategy and partly out of desperation I handed the fishing rig to Aarron. I then started the boat and tried to chase the monster. After about 20 minutes and much weaving back and forth I tried to swing the boat away from the line but it got closer and closer to going under the rear of the boat. Snap, the line got caught in the propeller. The monster was gone! But at least Aarron didn’t loose the pole still sitting in his hands.

To say the least, Aarron was exhausted. So was I, but he was dealing with the business end of the struggle. I am not sure why, but within three minutes of the break-off, I saw Aarron reach for his own pole and lower his heavily weighted bait in the water. As soon as his bait hit bottom…bam…he hooked the same monster or it’s twin sister.

Again, I started the engine and began chasing Aarron’s behemoth. After about 15 minutes of chasing, I decided to create a “waypoint” on my GPS. This would give me the point on the map where we currently were. I wanted to see how far the fish would actually travel. Then to my great surprise the black icon referencing our boat was not moving outside the circle of the blue way-mark. Dumbfounded, I knew we were traveling 3 MPH – – and going NO WHERE!

We were hooked on a great big underwater boulder. Our “rockfish” was not running away from us, we were being pushed by the 5 MPH current away from the rock!

The point of this for me is how, in my own mind, I was not supposed to have gotten so exhausted, so spent in fighting the “rockfish”. Superman. Right…Superman on Kryptonite all the rest of the day. I did not like this. I liked being Superman, not Superman King of AARP. I spent much of the afternoon feeling disappointment in myself.

But then, something shifted in my thinking…in my grief. I accepted myself. There is a reason we have younger and stronger people around. It is time for them to be the Supermen and Superwomen. I finally settled in today to the acceptance of reality.

Boy my back is sore!

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