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JACK WOLLITZ Fishing helps occupy mind



Published: Sun, September 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



On the surface, it would seem trivial to talk about fishing today.

But in a very real sense, it is appropriately cathartic to put one's mind on something other than the horrible events that wrenched our nation Tuesday morning.

I'll share a short anecdote. A friend had planned to go fishing Wednesday.

Odd stares: As he reconsidered his plans Tuesday night, he decided to proceed and the next morning stopped en route to the lake to fuel his boat. My friend caught a few odd stares from others at the pumps and began to doubt whether he was doing the right thing.

When America went to bed Tuesday night, nobody wanted to believe the death and destruction that rained down on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Nothing seemed important in comparison to the war that broke out that morning.

Emotional lump: But most Americans went to work and school the next day. And, yes, some went fishing. I kept an appointment for a lunch meeting at a restaurant, but drove there half-heartedly with an emotional lump in my throat.

Across our land, our routines were interrupted. Many events were canceled -- some for security reasons and others out of respect.

Most everybody yearned to rewind the clock and go back to a time just a few short hours previously when circumstances were much different. Many decided to begin the process of dealing with the atrocity and putting it behind them.

America grieves. America heals.

That is the process in which we find ourselves now. But it's made more complicated this time because so much remains to be answered, including the issue of how America will respond.

Signal needed: Like many others, I believe our response needs to include a signal to the world that our spirit is intact and our freedom will not be diminished.

We all will heal in our own personal way.

And if that means some of us will take time to get away from the horror and become immersed in something about which we are passionate, then the recovery process will accelerate.

So today we're not discussing new fishing gadgets or techniques or finding secret locations. Rather, we think about fishing as a way to cope with a terrible reality and as a representation of American freedom.

Baseballs arc: Baseballs - another great American symbol - likely will again arc over green diamonds Monday in cities from coast to coast. Before that first pitch, however, people stood and sang The Star Spangled Banner.

For myself, Francis Scott Key's 'rockets' red glare will be painted in my mind indelibly thanks to television coverage that brought terrorism to our living rooms.

And while I always get misty-eyed during our National Anthem, I'll never hear those words again without thinking about what insane people tried to steal from me and from you, and about the ultimate price thousands paid as are result.

This morning, meanwhile, I have chosen to fish. Why?.

Because I can.




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