State of the Hogs: Identity

Sometimes you just have to take the dare and go where no man has ever gone. Or was that just a fishing trip to the Norfork River?

Do you know your identity? Your role? Do you know how you fit in your home, your job? Do you know what you do?

It's a critical thing in life, just as it is with any football team. Bobby Petrino, the Arkansas coach, has referenced finding identity as the critical aspect that awaits his 2011 squad this August.

Sometimes we never do find ourselves and we flop miserably in several areas of our life. Those who "get it" are usually happier than those who don't. They know exactly how they fit and what needs to be done.

I do most of my jobs at home without having to be reminded. My wife provides great balance. After 32 years, I think we work together almost seamlessly.

When I fish too much, she reminds me of what should have been done.

Usually, I detect mood long before she provides a hint. She knows exactly how to grab the reins. She is in charge.

I get to make the big decisions. She makes all of the little ones. So far, she has done it so well we haven't gotten to any of the big ones.

Two of my fishing buddies, Sam Hannon and Bruce Ritter, provided something that will allow her to snap the reins harder if she desires. It's a plaque commemorating the "Man Slam" accomplished over the last few months.

I didn't even know it was possible until my pastor, Hannon, came up with the award. There was only one leg left. It was pretty easy at that point.

The "Man Slam" is fishing on your anniversary, Valentine's Day, your wife's birthday and Mother's Day. I got the first ever Man's Slam plaque — in a surprise ceremony — this week at a fly tying event.

I was only left to fish on Mother's Day when the challenge was put down. The man of the cloth said, "You must do it now, for all of manhood."

And it was pointed out to my wife that I was close. She played the major role in that trip, same as always. Perhaps she saw the big picture because after church on Mother's Day she suggested there was nothing to do until supper and I should (not could) go fishing.

The problem at that point is what constitutes a fishing trip. All of the rivers I love were too high because of monsoons. The only trout fishing option was a drive to Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Mo. There would only be a small window to fish.

"Go," both my pastor and other buddy urged. "Do it. It may be the only chance (at the Man Slam)." I caught two trout before a quick exit. The dinner was wonderful.

In that respect, the final leg was a lot like the others in the Man Slam. I was rested and looking sharp for a night out. That's one of the dos. Don't come home so tired that you can't be suitable company. Use plenty of Visine to clear eyes.

The plaque is beautiful. There is an engraved brown trout. Below it are the four events and the exact dates of the trips — provided by one of my daughters.

My wife has seen it. She will want it displayed in a prominent spot. She can point to it if there is something she wants.

That's fine. Her wants are small. I am proof. For the record, I didn't set out on this quest. I'd ask, "What do we have this weekend?" Generally, the response would be, "Nothing, you should go fishing."

I've fished before on Mother's Day. I've fished on our anniversary, too. I may have gone on Valentine's Day or her birthday. It just never was in the same year. It was not a goal, except my pastor's for me.

Now he maintains that the plaque came about to point out an example of what not to do in a relationship. I don't believe that, although I expect there will be a sermon with a proper correction.

It may cause him trouble in the long run. His wife is counting now. He was with me on the Valentine's Day trip and it bubbled out at home. She sent me a playful Facebook message: Leave My Man Alone.

It's probably too late. Now the Man Slam is calling his name. What will be his identity?

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