Welcome to Panfish

Part Thirty-one

The List

By Randy Fratzke

Last night my wife and I were sitting in the living room on the couch talking about the holidays. What gifts we'd bought for who and why we'd purchased them. Pretty soon the conversation got around to the usual question asked about this time of year: "so what do you want?" she asked. A hundred things came to mind, all at once. A new rod and reel, a the new Fly Tiers Bench Reference Guide, a gift certificate to by tying materials, an new improvement for the green house, and new tool for the shop.... like I said, a hundred, no, actually several hundred things came to mind.

Esoteric things, like world peace, a way to feed all the starving people in the world, a cure for my MS (and a cure for all of the other diseases of the world), a way to stop global warming, and cure for whirling disease, a way to convince people to clean up the planet so it will be safe for future generations....

Material things like the new rod and reel, a rod blank (or 3) to build "the ultimate fly rod", enough materials to tie flies for the next 10 years. Lots of books on fishing, and wood working, and horticulture, and landscaping. The newest tools for building all of the finished crafts for all of my hobbies.

My mind wandered further into my "want list", but still I hadn't given her an answer. It was taking some time to figure out the right answer. I had to figure in what we could afford, what I'd be able to use the most and the most often. What I really needed, not just wanted. Then it dawned on me. The thing that I really need the most of and have the least of: Time.

Time to enjoy each others company. Time to enjoy my hobbies, to build the rod, tie the flies, build in the wood shop, and cultivate new plants in the green house. Time to enjoy life. Time to go to places we've wanted to go to or do things we've wanted to do or see things or people we've wanted to see. Time to do nothing but sit on the porch and enjoy the natural beauty outside. Time to have friends over and prepare outrageous 12 hour, 10 course meals like we used to do. Time to take a trip to see our first grandchild. The list never quits, but always seems to start with, " I wish I had time...."

After a few minutes, my wife nudged me and asked. "Hey, which river are you fishing??? Your mind seems to have left and your somewhere far away." It was true, I was far, far away. Then she asked, "Did you decide on anything?" And I said, "Yup, I decided I want time!" "you mean time to decide on something, right?" she asked. I replied, "No, time to enjoy the things I have already!" She looked at me, totally frustrated, pursed her lips, and said, "Only you would come up with an impossible request like that!" and started to get up from the couch, obviously angry and frustrated. I quickly grabbed her arm and said, "Whoa, hold on a minute, let me explain."

I proposed that one day a week, we make time for ourselves. To do what we want to do, or for her to do what she wants to or I want to do. That at least every 3 months, we take a trip somewhere, out of town for at least 3 days (longer if we can), to a place we've never been before to fish, or relax, or explore, or whatever... That at least once a year, we take the time to visit people out of state (or out of the country, for that matter) that we haven't seen for a long time (or ever met in person). That at least twice a year we assist in a public works project, like a stream habitat improvement, a restocking program, helping with a kids program at one of the local nature centers, or helping with one of the programs that assists the needy, such as habitat for humanity or one of the food banks or Red Cross.

Once she saw what I meant she helped add to the list. After about a hour I said, "hold it, we're getting out of hand here..." She asked what I meant and I said, " look at our list... there's no way we have time to do all of this!" "We need to revise things and be a little more realistic" I said. So now we're in the revision process. What started out as a simple inquiry on what to buy each other for the holidays has become something that can't be purchased, but can be given. May all of you give it some time to soak in.

Happy Holidays! ~ Randy Fratzke

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