The ring of the alarm clock on my phone is met with my open eyes. 4:58 AM. I woke up two minutes before it went off. My brain is racing. This normally happens to me before a fishing trip or an important day at work. I am awake and alert, and I quickly get out of bed. The mission for today is Thanksgiving meal preparation. The first stage of the mission is to set up the smoker, get the turkey out of the brine, put on the dry rub, and set the thermometers to monitor temperature.
This was my first Thanksgiving where I was responsible for the turkey. I felt the pressure to have a reasonably tasty turkey that wasn’t dried out. The sweet smell of cherry and apple smoke instantly brings a smile to my face. In addition to helping on the other side dishes, I needed to check the smoker box and keep the charcoal and wood replenished and smoking until the turkey is cooked.
Our Thanksgiving meal was excellent. All the food was fantastic, and we had a great time together. My favorite part of the meal was when we each said things about our lives and each other that we were thankful for. As my wife and I were walking the dog later in the afternoon, she mentioned to me that she was proud of us for planning things out and executing our plan so well.
Thinking back towards planning the meal reminded me of planning for a fishing trip. I enjoy developing a plan by researching the locations, the methods, and the seasonality. In some ways the planning and preparation is the most enjoyable part for me. Identifying the flies to tie and in what forms, what rods and leaders to use, and when to fish is exciting to me. Planning for the preparation of the thanksgiving meal was fun in those ways, too.
Then the execution of the plan takes trust in the plan and a commitment to complete the effort. It also takes adaptive management, understanding when things need to deviate from the plan, and understanding that the point of the planning and execution is the enjoyment of the activity and being present to the moments as they pass.
As I was fishing today and bringing a trout to net, I was appreciative of the beauty of the fish and the planning and preparation that brought me to that moment: all the research I’ve done, the flies I’ve tied, and techniques I’ve learned. Missing from the fishing today was sharing the moments with my family. The shared memories of Thanksgiving 2020 are moments I will cherish forever.