THE MARSHALL PLAN: A welcome return of baseball

Culpeper Times columnist Marshall Conner

Fly-fishing has taught me many lessons, the top ones being the importance of expectations in life. The other is the importance of patience when allowing your back cast to unfurl. We need that same approach to life.

The very essence of Christmas is centered on the hope that we can make ourselves and humanity better despite our many shortcomings. We want to reach our potential and fall softly on our goals.

Life seldom is made up of carefree casts—life gives us wind, tree branches, bad knots, and impatience.

The great Charles Dickens penned A Christmas Carol, my favorite ghost story. His beloved classic gave the reader, a gift of witnessing the one-night transformation of a miserly Mr. Scrooge. It shows us that with a little supernatural prodding from a deceased business partner, a trio of spirits from the past, present, and future—a soul can potentially change for the better.

Most of us do not have spirits banging on our bedroom doors (at least I hope not) telling us how we can rescue our eternal souls. We must find our own motivation to improve.

The loss of the expectation of another day or another breath is perhaps the most frightening. We forget or ignore our own mortality. None of us know the time or place of our conclusion.

The other day I watched the memorial service for Eric Dinkens, a beloved, positive leader in our community and thought about our transient time on earth and how we will be remembered. What do we do with that time? The eulogy I heard made me recall his smile and the legacy he leaves behind. His life lessons will ripple on through many lives.

Life is like a cast— let it unfurl to its full potential and the fly has a better chance of falling in the right place. Do not rush it, force it, or overthink it. It is our hope that life will give us many casts. We should seek perfection on each cast but know that perfection is ever elusive to us mortals.

The pandemic, the wind that disrupts our lives, continues to haunt us since last spring. It is still out there casting our best made plans aside and testing our resolve. COVID-19 has forced us to refocus on what is profoundly important, our faith, the safety of our families, employment, our courage, and the opportunity to see who truly has our back. We have witnessed a non-partisan virus that has twisted and divided us politically and ruined many plans. My expectation is that we can emerge from this more appreciative of the fragility of freedom. My expectation is that someday soon I can hug my friends freely, tell stories out loud, travel to fish with my best friend, watch sports in a crowded stadium and attend a concert.

As a fisherman I tend to move past the spots that do not produce, forget the days when fish refuse to bite and focus on what lies in the next bend of the river, pool or change of a tide.

It is the magic of expectation that makes life great.

In the weeks before Christmas we plan, and we await gifts—we also hopefully look to the night sky and remember the hope for humanity that slept in a manger under a radiant star. It is supposed to look like the one that guided the wisemen.

Let us keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts a bit longer this year—we all need it. May the spark in the eyes of children and glistening wisdom in the eyes of our elders give us greater expectations for the year ahead. Let us learn from the snags and tangles of 2020 and hopefully next year we will all be holding something more beautiful.

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