Written by Lee Hoedl; LAKESTYLE magazine - Spring 2007 Issue

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We are an intriguing species, to say the very least. Our passage of and journey through time, if viewed from a respectful distance, seems to appear not as a singular and linear pathway but rather as a grand weaving of crossroads and intersections. It seems to be an endless wave of stops and starts, detours and distractions, as we wind our way through our multitude of experiences and years. And all the while, we each appear to do our best to understand the meaning of ourselves, wrapped within this mysterious journey.

From birth certificates and gravestones to personal tattoos and roadside graffiti, we mark ourselves and our journey as if to remind ourselves that we are here, now, alive and well intentioned; as if to remind ourselves that we and those in our life matter and have meaning. From birthday and anniversary celebrations to photographs, postcards and simple baubles, we leave bread crumb trails and plant milestones to remind others and ourselves that we were and are an integral part of this powerful journey. And yet through all of our markers and milestones along Life’s journey, there remains none more powerful than

The Indelible Mark

I can still close my eyes in these early days of spring and transport myself back to a time when innocence was commonplace and adventure was an everyday childhood activity. It was a time in my early-elementary-school days when we had not yet moved to the upper Midwest and would have to travel across the United States to visit my retired grandparents residing in upper Minnesota.

The cool crisp spring Minnesota air mixed with the clear but too-cold-to-swim-in waters always made for a vivid childhood memory. And not long after our arrival to my grandparent’s lake haven, my grandfather would have to give us a grand “tour of his lake.” To this day I am able to recall the distinctive bounce of my grandfather’s Lund boat as it cut across the wake of the waves while I lazily hung my arm over the boat’s edge and splashed it in the chilly surf. It is this vivid memory, melded with so many wonderful lakeside smells and sights over the years, which helped to instill within me a deep love for the outdoors. It was somewhere nestled between the boating tours of the lake and the lazy afternoons of diving off the family dock, my grandfather would ultimately grant me one moment that I would remember for the rest of my life… the indelible mark.

Drawing from the well of the boat next to the dock one sunny Minnesota morning, my weathered grandfather handed it me a worn fishing pole. It seemed to magically gleam with the wear that only a master fisherman could place on such a fishing pole… and my grandfather was now entrusting it to me. He patiently and meticulously explained to me the functions of the various parts of the pole and the mechanics of the perfect cast with a bobber. And after several practice casts, he proceeded to help me bait my hook. It was at this moment that I came to the deeper realization that my grandfather truly believed in me; that he not only entrusted me with his fishing pole but also had faith that I could and would land a prize fish…

My friend, we live in a rather precarious world of hit-and-miss opportunities and happenchance practices; lifestyles that seem to say, “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’m not going to fret over it.” But in the warming sunshine of this spring season, I am once again committed to the belief that you and I do matter; through all of our grand conscious efforts and subtle unconscious deeds, we do matter and are living testimonials to the indelible marks left upon us. We are not simply random lives colliding into one another. We are filled with and called to a life of purposeful impact. It is simply our choice as to whether this impact, these unforgettable and teachable moments are negative or positive.

For your own sake, please take the time this spring, and well into the summer, to make the most of your days with friends and loved ones. Allow your lake experience to serve as a backdrop for all the indelible marks and unforgettable moments that will shape lives; both as a teacher and as a pupil. Believe in yourself more than you have before and outwardly let those around you know that you believe in them. These moments are truly the cherished bread crumb trails and milestones that let us know that we are an integral part of this powerful journey.

As for that one moment with my grandfather, that indelible mark of faith and trust? I truly can’t tell you how the afternoon ended. In fact, I think I can count on my two hands the number of times that I have gone fishing since that moment. But then again, that one moment was not as much about the fishing rites of passage, as it was about the relationship and connection between my grandfather and me. It was one of many moments, many indelible marks, that would forever remind me that I matter and I am ALIVE. It was at our lake home where I first learned how to camp with my father, learned how to pick and can fresh vegetables with my mother and enjoyed the simple and spontaneous fun that makes life worthwhile with my brother and sisters. These are spirited milestones and mementos that can never be erased.

And it is in this most fitting spirit, which I allowed my son Leo, named after my father, to be taught his first fishing lesson from his grandfather this past summer. As I watched them work together, it once again brought me back to my youth, my innocence and my sense of adventure. Just one more indelible mark to add to my personal canvas.

Photography by Lee Hoedl

Copyright 2006

Copyright 2006, Lee Hoedl, leehoedl@yahoo.com