Tackle The Storm
By Don Barone
"As I walk this land of broken dreams,
I have visions of many things…"
The more the Cullman County Deputy Sheriff drove me around, the angrier I got.
The more faraway eyes I saw looking back at me from the side of the road, the angrier I got.
The more front porch steps leading to nowhere I saw, the angrier I got.
Angry at the Earth.
Angry at Science.
Angry at Faith.
That night I sat in the dark and wrote by candlelight and a tiny flashlight strapped around my head. Listened to the echoes of generators bounce off a star filled sky.
Listened to nothing, as nothing drove by. The violent wind, gone, replaced by a silent wind. A mourning wind. A sorrowful wind.
As the candles melted and the tiny flashlight stuck on my head dimmed, my anger grew, grew to the point where I couldn't type, couldn't write, couldn't think. I was tore up.
So before I tore anything up, I put the laptop into "sleep," blew out the candles, took the thing wrapped around my head off and threw it on the db/bb/rv bed, and stepped outside.
I wanted to be inside the outside because I was angry at it, and wanted it to know that, know that I was not afraid to be here, in the outside. The outside had come for them, and now I was coming for it.
Planet payback time.
So I challenged the storm. Shouted that I can't give back everything the storm took from these people, but that I could, WOULD give back some.
Even though at that moment, with anger in my eyes, my brain, my soul, even then with my anger filling the darkness, I had no idea, how.
But I knew I would. I knew WE would.
And I stood in the darkness lit by anger waiting for the outside to come for me, take me like you have taken all that was once here, take me face to face, send the wind, because even if you take me, even if you take whomever is still left around here, others will come.
And face the wind.
Tackle the storm.
Even though you bring darkness to us, we will not go quietly.
Because we will not go alone.
We care for each other. We help each other. We love each other, and will continue to do so, if not more so. In spite of you. Because of you.
No matter what the wind brings.
"…I know I'm gonna find a way.
I saw it lying on the ground, and truthfully didn't think much of it. Who would, the entire house was flattened, mostly gone, debris was everywhere, there was some kind of small car in a TREE, the refrigerator and freezer were gone, nowhere to be found, a Volkswagen bug sat in a field where it never sat before.
Amongst all that, a broken fishing pole does not make much of an impact. But when I look back at it now, that little pole lying on the ground may have had the biggest impact of all.
I don't know what made me take a picture of it, in fact I don't think I even took a good photo of it. Just kind of shot it… bang… and moved on. Would not normally do that, not my style… my guess is, it was the universe's style though.
It took the photo, not me. I was just holding the camera.
When I look upon that photo now, I don't see a broken fishing pole.
I see broken dreams.
I see broken hope.
But above all, I see what the universe wanted me to see. Wants you to see.
A broken child.
Brokenhearted. Broken up, broken apart. Hurting.
I know that child, I met him, he helped me move some stuff, he shook my hand, did the "Yes Sir," good raisin' thing.
But he is hurting, breaks out crying, wakes up shaking and running from the storm that chases him in his nightmares.
I see all that in the broken fishing pole.
I didn't need to take a picture of the child with a lost look on his face. I took, or the universe took, a photo of the child's lost dreams.
Right there in that broken pole on the ground.
"…nothings gonna stop me now…"
I believe a fishing pole to be a magic wand.
Young or old, you pick it up, you shake it, and you hope for magic to hit at the other end.
Pretty much your exact definition of a magic wand.
Where goes the magic after the storm. After the storm, can magic in fact, be?
When everything is gone it means, everything. Your stuff. And stuff is not just your possessions. Stuff, also includes the stuff you are made out of.
You may have had the Right Stuff before the wind, but once the wind comes, it can take the Right Stuff as well.
It takes with it what's normal.
It takes with it what's routine.
It takes with it what's comfortable.
Take the garage, take the house, but if you take from me, normal, routine, comfortable, you take, ME!
And when you take that from a child, you could be taking with it, safety.
Where is safety in their young lives, when nothing can stop the storm, when Mommy and Daddy are huddled down and scared right next to you.
The storm came, and from the child, it took, childhood.
But we're going to put it back.
Piece by piece.
And we are going to start, with the broken fishing pole.
We're going to start…
…one magic wand at a time.
"…I'll find a way somehow…"
When I wrote "Do Unto…" http://www.bassresource.com/fish-fishing/don-barone-do-unto.html I said we needed to help the children of the storm, all those children who used fishing as their normal, their routine, their comfort, but who now couldn't because the storm took with it, all their fishing stuff.
I said that even though I had no idea how to pull it off.
I'm not a business guy, barely making it as it is.
I'm not a planning type of guy other than I plan not to plan.
I'm not an organized kind of guy, in fact I'm suspect of any organized anything.
Not the best kind of person to make a suggestion like I did.
And I got called on it. When? Where? How? How much? Blah, blah, blah.
My answer was, "You got me." Even started a Facebook cause page http://www.facebook.com/TackleTheStorm so you could figure it out amongst yourselves. Leave me out of it because I will only mess it up.
I figured if I just left it alone, the universe would come get me.
And it did. Chaos Theory in reverse.
Turns out, before the storm (which is how all things will be measured by those who were under the storm) a group in Cullman County planned their annual KIDS FISHING TOURNAMENT.
"Normally, we have fifty to sixty kids turn out for the event, but who knows now, people have lost everything, don't know what the tournament will be like this year, or even, you know, if."
This morning that's what Tony Byrd of RCBC Outdoors Adventure told me. Seems every year the Ryan Creek Baptist Church puts on fishing tournaments for older anglers, and younger anglers.
These are scheduled events that anyone in the community who wants to take part in, can do. They have had a several year commitment to getting children fishing.
So on the phone this morning, even though I'm not sure how we are going to pull it off, I said this to Tony, "No ifs on that kids fishing tournament you have planned for July 2nd. You put out the word to the children that even if the storm took every piece of fishing stuff they had, to STILL COME TO FISH THE TOURNAMENT, because we will have stuff there for them to fish with, and keep."
And I promised.
Yeah I did.
We can make that tournament the drop off place for a child's, childhood. Give the children back, if just for a little while, normal, routine, comfort, give them a place away from the storm.
Help turn their nightmares back into dreams.
Help put a fishing pole back in their young hands.
And bring back the magic.
Help me do that for the children of Cullman, Alabama.
But also, help me do that, for all the children of the storms. Wherever the storms strike, and they will continue to pound us, pound the children, wherever violence comes out of the sky and takes everything with it.
Tackle the Storm should follow.
We can't give back, everything.
But we can give back, one thing.
We can pick up the broken fishing poles.
And hand new ones, to children.
We can give them back.
The Magic Wands, of childhood.
"I'll be searching everywhere."
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
The Funk Brothers
The tournament is scheduled for July 2, 2011 and I'm working right now with the RCBC Outdoor Adventure folks at Ryan Creek Baptist Church, (24849 County Road 222, Bremen, Al, 35033) to figure out the best way to get fishing stuff into the hands of the children of the tournament, and they are working on how to get the word out to all of the children in the area who lost their fishing stuff to the storm, to come to the tournament and Tackle The Storm, with new fishing stuff.