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  • Margaret Page

The Gift of a Beautiful State

A few weeks ago, I made good on a long-held promise to my 12-year-old grandson and took him fishing for the first time. It was a trip that probably should have happened months ago, but our schedules never quite lined up — I was out of town, he was unavailable, and on and on until it was nearly spring and we still hadn’t made it down to a river or lake to cast our lines. 


When the big day finally rolled around, I picked up my grandson and took him to a sporting goods store so we could properly outfit ourselves. The owner helped him choose a fishing rod and gear before directed us to a spot on the Fraser River. 


We needed some luck! I was still nursing a broken right wrist — my dominant hand — and felt incredibly clumsy as I fiddled with adding teeny weights and a fine hook to the line. Had I brought snub-nosed pliers or scissors or anything that would have been helpful? Of course not. But I was determined that we would get my grandson’s line in the water. 


After much trial and error, it was time for my grandson to add a wriggly worm to the hook. Without a moment’s hesitation, he picked one up and threaded the bait, just as if he were a born fisherman. He dropped the hook into the water again and again, coming up empty — until, finally, the line tangled and got caught on some debris in the water. (Scissors would have been handy then, too.)


Nothing seemed to be going right, so we decided to cut our losses — literally — and grab a pizza. The fish would survive another day. 


I went home and carried on with my day, glad I was able to make the trip happen but wishing it could have gone more smoothly. Should I have waited until my wrist healed? Why wasn’t I more prepared? Would my grandson ever want to fish again after that lackluster experience? 


A few days later, a florist showed up at my door with a lovely bouquet and a note from my grandson: 


Grandma, I had the best day OF MY LIFE.  


I was floored. It was such an ordinary, challenging day. How could it be his best? 


I was so busy thinking about how imperfect the experience was that I forgot about the magic of the moment. I was seeing the entire thing through my eyes instead of the eyes of a child who was spending a fun afternoon with his grandma. How could I have missed how special that was?


As I looked at the flowers, it hit me. It’s not about creating the ideal experience, it’s about living it. Yes, we were unprepared. In the end, did that matter one bit? Of course not. I could embrace the perfectly imperfect, enjoying and appreciating the moment no matter what. I could elevate my attitude while elevating the experience for others. I could show up, fully, while giving others the unspoken permission to do the same. 


I may have taught my grandson how to fish, but he gave me the bigger gift. 

Thank you to DEAN FAULKNER on Unsplash for the gorgeous photo of a heron.


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