A couple weeks ago, I went on vacation. I went far. Far, far away. Well, ok, maybe not that far. Not towards another galaxy, but a few hours worth. I just had to get away. This is sad and unlike me on two levels.
One, I haven’t gone anywhere recently that would constitute traveling. I’ve been to Illinois a couple times in the last year, but that’s it. My last actual trip somewhere of note, was to Nashville, Tennessee and that was almost two years ago.
And two, I rarely take vacations. I just don’t. Money is one of the reasons, sure, but also, because sometimes I just feel like I can’t get away. I have people that depend on me or just want me around always. The key word there is “want.” They don’t necessarily need me around, but want me around. I have a hard time saying no. I have a hard time letting go, as well. This is something I’ve been starting to change of myself, and to really delve into. I need to let go, and just do me for awhile. I need to go out and explore more of the world.
But first, before I can start doing that, I had to get away, to the one place I knew would be far enough away, but close enough to comfort. I went to a place that is about 4.5 hours northwest from where I live. It’s a place that is definitely “up north.” Not much between the broken down gas stations, old time pizza places and dive bars. It’s a lot more lake, fishing and true American getaway, Wisconsin style.
A place, where all that matters is how much beer you can drink, and how big your fish story can get.
The place I am talking about, probably 99% of you have never heard of, yet, it’s a place I’ve called summer vacation for almost half my life. I’m here to share this place, this secret hideaway of nature and time, with you. Ok ok, enough stalling. The one place in the world that I’ve been to, where everything stops and keeps perspective moving, is called Lake Poskin. A small town, bass and northern pike infested resort. Except, it’s not so much a resort now, but more of a family reunion.
It’s a place my family and I have been going to since I was a kid. For generations now, it’s the one spot that we can all get together, “talk smart and drink beer.” That quoted remark is courtesy of my grandma. She’s the one that’s held this place together as far as everyone coming and going. She’s the one that introduced us all to it and she’s the one who we all make sure gets up there. Even at her 80 years of age, she still gets it.
Poskin isn’t about just fishing, or drinking, or even campfire stories. It’s about that feeling, that only getting away from the outside world can attain.
You see, in my daily life, I deal with grieving families on a daily basis. There’s very little room for error, or not being as close to perfect and available, as possible. It’s impossible, to be perfect for sure, but I take my profession seriously and I’m also still learning literally every day. I want to be as perfect as I can for them, because it is a situation that they can’t get back, and everyone deserves the service they want. I encounter new scenarios or things to step up and do, on the daily. This is not me complaining one bit, because I chose this lifestyle and crave it. This is what I want, to help people as much as I can in their worst moments. The pressure, the business, the minutes you know a family can’t get back, that down to the wire shot clock moment, it comes down to me and my funeral home. I accept this wholeheartedly.
But that’s not to say it doesn’t get stressful at times, or that the hours wear on you. Again, am I complaining? Absolutely not. There’s a reason for off days and time to decompress. At some point though, those days off become days on for friends, family and other hobbies that require more time, input and money.
Woe is me, right? Guy gets days off and complains about free time. Keep reading, I promise you’ll get where I’m coming from. You see, I also come from a dysfunctional family. I’m not calling them out or saying I don’t love them, because I do love them. Everyone. But, like most people, I’m sure we all have our stories of weird or cases that just don’t fit the “norm of a happy family.” There’s reasons why I fear commitment at times. There’s reasons why I’ve only had two girlfriends my whole life where I can say I actually loved. And lost. There’s reasons why I also have this feeling where I need to be the big brother (because I am) and the leader of my immediate family.
I need to be the voice of reason, and do what’s right and in everyone’s best interest at times, to not rock the boat, so to speak. And now, that we’re all older and adults, that time has come and gone. I don’t need to be the example always, or the reason not to do things. I need to let people make their own mistakes and learn from them.
Teach a man to fish, but never give him the fish.
I’m 32 years old, I think it’s time my family learns that I’m always here for them, but I can’t keep going on with the “he said, she said” bullshit. I need to become my own man and make my own future. I can’t create one for everyone else and leave mine by the wayside. I did that in high school for my friends. I did that my first time in college for the wrong women. And I even did that in my mid twenties for complacency.
So, couple those two mind altering parts of my life, and then add in playing poker for hundreds of dollars again in my free time, plus the reading and writing I enjoy, with a little action on some business ideas… and you get a stressed out bald motherfucker. I cursed. Get over it.
Again, this isn’t me complaining or whining about my life. I love my life and lead a great one. Sometimes though, I just get that feeling of wanting to just get away. I don’t mean that weekend off, where I sit at a poker table with a beer or watching a game with my family. It’s never as easy as it sounds these days, is it? It’s always something.
Now, I’ll bet after reading the last few paragraphs, you can relate. And you are telling me to take more time to myself and just get away. That’s exactly what I did. That’s exactly what Lake Poskin provided me. And before I left, I made sure that family issues, my job, my friends, and my cat were taken care of. Everything was left behind me for a week, to not be thought of, to not be something constantly on my mind. I just wanted to live, breathe and think… about nothing at all. Cell phone and laptop be damned, I was going to enjoy this moment of nothingness.
“Hakuna Matata. It means no worries, for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy.”
We all know that’s from the Disney movie, The Lion King. But the thought I ponder now, is how often do people really get to live that way? I know we all want to. We all want to hit that “easy button” or find that escape clause. But that’s not life. That’s not how furthering your life is done. You have to put in the work. You have to earn your keep. Whether you’re a funeral director, an accountant, a janitor, a student, it doesn’t matter; you have to deal with life as it comes.
On the lake, you only have to deal with time. The small stuff, like getting your line tangled, or losing your lure, whatever it may be, doesn’t matter. You cut the line and set yourself up again. Certainly, your tackle box contains more than one lure. Those things don’t matter. What matters is really enjoying the freedom you have, in the moment.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Take in the big stuff.
From sunrises, to sunsets, take them in. Watch the sun rise and the sun set with a beer. Just watch it with a loved one, and count your blessings. You don’t need to be in a yacht to enjoy something like that on the water. Hell, my entire trip was based inside a rowboat. I used a kayak once, and had a failed attempt at a paddle boat. That rowboat was all I needed to get out as far as the enclosed water space would allow. And then, I’d drop anchor and chill. I’d fish, of course, but again, it’s not just about catching the biggest fish. All I do is catch and release anyway (says the guy who never catches anything worth keeping).
SIDE NOTE: As much as I want to claim I reeled this bad boy in, I did not. I only assisted in the netting of such a beast. That claim to fame goes to my cousin, who reeled in Lake Poskin’s newest record fish. Coming in at 42 inches and well over 20 pounds.
Being up north, I didn’t want to drag the drama or the baggage with me, and I made that clear. This is about positvity, talking about life beyond your goals and future. This is about walking on water, about what nature has provided us, everything we’d ever want is out there. Anything else doesn’t matter. When I’m up north, and in that environment, I try to take it in as long and as hard as I can. Because as I alluded to earlier, time is all you have, and it keeps ticking.
That feeling of not having to get up, shave, put a suit on and preparing yourself for God knows what, is one that I needed. I needed this break. I don’t think I could live this life of lounging and fishing every day, though. Don’t get me wrong, a vacation up north is wonderful and necessary, but it also strengthens why I do what I do. It emboldens the perspective I have on the world. I can’t just be on a lifelong vacation.
I’m here to help people. I’m here to lead my family. I’m here to create.
I achieved a sense of greatness and the confidence that I can get better and do bigger things in this world. An example of this, is that if I was given, say 10 million dollars, I wouldn’t just retire. I wouldn’t just quit my job and go vacation forever. I’d invest a large portion. I’d create charities and donate, not only money, but my time. I wouldn’t just quit the funeral industry, I’d start my own funeral home. I wouldn’t just play poker, I’d travel the WSOP circuit around the world, truly encompassing the culture of each stop and play for the thrill of victory, not the money.
My point is simple, all the money in the world could not force me to be on a lifelong vacation. And going on vacation made me realize this. I hadn’t been up to Poskin in a few years. In fact, the last time I went, I was a welder, and despite having a month’s worth of vacation and a good chunk of money in the bank, I only took a Friday off, so I could be back at work on Monday. Now what kind of vacation is that? It isn’t. That isn’t even time to get over a good hangover. I’ve played poker tournaments that lasted that long.
You see, everyone is different. Maybe you don’t agree with what I’ve said here or understand where I’ve gone with my mindset on my trip up north. That’s ok, because each person is different in how they view their time, what they look for in life and what they want to get out of their time off. Me, I’m just so used to cramming as much stuff into my day as possible. Sometimes, I’m beat and just need to sleep. Other times, I pull all nighters, with my job, poker, writing, hell- even videogames when I just want time to do something worthless.
This is what Lake Poskin provided for me. This is the release that I needed. This is the week I needed to recharge my batteries for the rest of the year. I told you, I rarely take vacations. I’m know I’m good. That’s not to say I don’t have other future getaways planned or thoughts, but for now, I’m good on inspiration and need to start putting things in motion more than I have been. Vague, I know. But I promise, I have a few things I’m working on that will bring even more insight and tangible meaning to my life as well as yours, the reader.
Now get out there, and enjoy the rest of your summer!