Coming Home

Come adventure with the Wildman

Coming Home

There are many books about returning to ones home; there might be even more movies about the subject, and I have a hunch music might take the record. My point is – it’s an important subject for many a writer, so there must be something to it. I recently looked at the lyrics of over 50 songs having to do with coming home, but I could not find one that resonated with how it felt to me. So I will try to explain it in my own words.

Fishing Guide Minnesota

I’ve been a rambling man. I’ve been on many an adventure. I just never really knew what it would be like to come home, because I never left for a long period of time, until recently. You see – I went away to Alaska for the best part of a decade. While I was there, I fulfilled my dreams on many levels. On many other levels – I sacrificed much in order to pursue those dreams. But toward the end of it, I felt the strongest pull… one that I could no longer ignore. I was not thriving, and I desperately needed to thrive, so I came home.

“Home” for me is the Brainerd Lakes Area. It’s here that I find my roots – in family, in friends, in faith, in hobbies, in history and experience – all which include desire, passion, purpose. This is where the majority of “my peeps” still live… where most the things I have always loved to do, still remain.

You may find it odd, that an adventurer such as myself could be in the middle of so much wilderness, fish, wildlife, and opportunity (Alaska)… and yes, even love – and yet, lay there at night, dreaming about catching a bass amongst lily pads, on a topwater frog, or, shooting the common carp with a bow and arrow… the summer hobbies I’ve enjoyed the most when accompanied by family and friends. I assure you, it’s true. I really did that. For years.

But this is about so much more than mere fishing or hunting. It’s about purpose, being a good son, a father, a grandfather, and a friend. It’s about helping others, leaving a legacy, modeling something that lasts, making a difference, not missing out (yes – I’ve had a lot of FOMO), and ultimately – choosing happiness. Still yet, it’s about recovery, healing, and the always-unfolding spiritual journey that life is.

Here, I knew without a doubt that I would be amongst people who not only love me, but “get” me… a place were I could be both worthy, and enough.

Do you have any idea what it is like – to spend quality time with your eldest granddaughter, and then, at the end of the day, have her exclaim “Grandpa! That was the best day of my life!” I was missing that in Alaska, and it was breaking my heart. She said those words to me recently. It rocked my world.

I’m fortunate to say that I was here in Minnesota – this home I speak of – to support my elderly momma through some of the hardest times of our lives: the tragic death of my brother Tom last October, followed by the death of my moms husband Joseph – the second husband she has outlived. I will always cherish our times, and will never have to regret not being here to support the ones I love in their greatest time of need.

I’ve driven from Minnesota to British Columbia and back for the funeral, Minnesota to Arizona and back – for a hunting trip with a BFF, Minnesota to Florida and back to get a guide boat, and Minnesota to Alaska and back to sell many of my things, and move – all inside the past 8

months. That’s a lot of miles! Always, I’m enjoying the adventure, the scenery, and quality time spent with loved ones, or alone with my maker, and my always present faithful canine companion… Sam Elliott.

More snow and ice fell last winter than I cared to admit, and I shoveled and chipped away all of it, for the duration. I watched the lake ice recede, the water open again, and when spring finally came – while listening to the annual bird migration – I took care of filthy roofs and plugged gutters, limbs and trees that fell under the weight of heavy snows, vehicles and motorhomes that were covered with a layer of good ole Minnesota winter schmut. Summer finally arrived – and I had at some of the work I enjoy the most… mindless lawn mowing, or blazing a new driveway through the forest for my daughters new home – something that takes much more concentration, lest one get flattened. Now – I look forward to my favorite time of year: Fall. Changing leaves, morning frost, crisp air, the smell of dying foliage, thundering wings, gunpowder, a road hunt with an uncle. Minnesota has seasons, part of being home.

Seems I am always working on reinventing myself, and 2023 is no exception. I’ve gone back to work as a LMFT for Lakes Country Counseling, while juggling in the major project of building a new website for guiding.

Because of all my ailments – it feels like each week I have appointments with one professional or the other: doctor, surgeon, rheumatologist, dentist, attorney. It takes a lot to keep this train rolling!

I reflect that in my younger years – I’d consider myself to be painfully shy, and an introvert. But now, I regularly pursue relationships with family and friends; some have even told me that they see it as one of my strengths, and I’m so grateful – that I can live in freedom, instead of fear, while still enjoying some time to myself. As I write this – I look forward to tonight, when I will wade right into visiting with classmates for my 40th HS reunion. This is a glimpse of the healing that has happened to me – for I would have never done this before.

Each week, I find myself making appointments with my long list of people to connect, or reconnect with: my daughter (who says I am her most reliable baby sitter), my son, two grands, aunts, uncles, old friends, and new friends, Whether it’s deep intimate human connection, the teasing goofy banter that I am famous for, or just plain adventure and fun with my peeps, I enjoy it all. I’m busy, but it’s a good busy.

More sunrises and sunsets have been enjoyed than before; this is something I vowed to do with what is left of my life. I did it, listening to the world come alive, while out in the turkey woods this spring. while out in the boat this summer, or just from the deck – where I live. It’s so relaxing. So recharging. As part of this I have set strong boundaries with things that tend to piss me off: politics, the news, or people who insist on being divisive. I’ve noticed it has a huge impact on my overall state of being.

When I was in Alaska, I yearned to see my granddaughters playing at a beach. Now – we do that weekly. I sit in amazement, watching them play and grow. It keeps me in the moment – right where I belong.

When I came home, there was so much work to do at my mom’s place… things that had been neglected since I was gone. An uncle arrived… “Big John” as I call him – the one who’s handle

bar mustache I have always yanked on, as I say his name playfully. Together, he and I worked to bring moms lake home “up to date” and together, we fished often, like we did a decade or two ago. This was good for the soul, and a great help to both me and mom.

When was the last time I saw my grands at a 4th of July Parade? Well… never, until this year. We got Dairy Queens, and candy, and sunburns while we giggled.

Summer means riding a bike to the park with the girls. Enjoying a meal of fresh fish with the family, or smoking/cooking venison steaks on the Traeger. A drink on the deck with a neighbor, or an aunt and uncle – while noticing the smell of fresh-cut-grass. Wood ducks weeping along the shoreline. Swans trumpeting as they come in for a landing. A big bass blowing up on my scum frog. Lovely deer, grazing in the ditch as I drive by – window open, smiling in the breeze. Sammy-me-boy, licking my face, begging me to play ball. A giant – lurking lunker passing by my boat – and getting arrowed by ME! Taking time to smell, and pick fresh flowers. Enjoying a long visit with my kids. Rising early – to have coffee and breakfast with a friend. Getting to really know a nephew and his family. Noticing a reflection in the water, or a particular birds song. Playing with a bear and a bison. Letting go of things. Embracing other things.

I cannot recall, or comment on it all. But this is some of what it feels like, to be me, and to be home. It’s not necessarily a place, or a dwelling. It’s a feeling of not yearning to be somewhere else. Two words really come to mind: belonging, and contentment.

I invite you to come with me on one of those adventures.

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