30 Jan Springshot Spotlight: Geraldine Brooks
The water down in Georgia moves a little more slowly than it does in most places. Rivers wind their way into lakes, languidly moving from one place to the next, unaffected by the sins of yesterday. But that’s the thing about water: It never touches the same thing twice. It steadily approaches its journey, never changes course, and is consumed by the process rather than the destination. Water is cleansing, healing. Perhaps that’s why Geraldine Brooks loves water so much. Much like those meandering streams and pristine lakes, Geraldine calmly goes through her day, steadfast in her approach, and she moves with a metered cadence that allows her to enjoy every step along the way.
Growing up in Albany, Georgia, Geraldine was raised in the country by her mom and dad in a bustling household of three brothers and three sisters. Her mother was strong and proud, and believed in focusing on one thing at a time and doing it well. She never over-extended herself and always took the time to enjoy life as it was, rather than what it could be. It was also her mother who taught her to fish when she was just a little girl and, when her mother ultimately retired, fishing was her respite. Even then, Geraldine was drawn to the calm of the water, so most days the pair could be found together, waiting for the next fish to bite.
Later on, that country girl moved to Atlanta with a friend to look for new job opportunities. Through a referral, she went to work for Gate Gourmet, a food service provider that stocks the aircraft at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. During her day, she routinely strikes up conversations with flight attendants, captains, and passengers. That’s just one of the reasons why she loves her job, but the other is because she gets to be outside. Sure, some days are cold or rainy, but most days she sees sights that she wouldn’t see at home. From beautiful sunsets to starbursts to rainbows, she soaks in every postcard, as she likes to call them, and these postcards are sent to her every single day.
Geraldine has no email address, doesn’t surf the web, doesn’t have cable television, and has never shopped online – and that suits her just fine. “People are so inclined towards money and material things, that they don’t pay attention to nature, animals, or even a nice sunny day,” she says. “The more you do, the more you have to do, but I’ve noticed that everything is crowding in on people and they don’t know how to handle it. They have goals but, in all the busyness, they’re no closer to those goals.” She does have a mobile phone, but it’s for conversing or emergencies. Even then, and much to her brother’s dismay, she often turns her phone off or leaves it in the car.
It’s not that she doesn’t like technology. In fact, she finds it interesting, but there are things she’d rather be doing than looking at a computer screen. When she’s not working, she can be found on the water, always returning to the fishing roots that were cultivated as a child. She catches breams and trout and brings them home where she cleans, dresses, and cooks them. That fresh fish is infinitely better than the fish at the market but, for Geraldine, it’s all about the experience.
Every now and again, Geraldine will convince a friend to come fishing with her, but many don’t want to fish because they’re afraid of live bait. “Albany is a country town and I’m a country girl,” she laughs. “Just put that bait on there and throw it out and wait. That’s the game – those fish are smart and they know there’s something up under that bait.” But that’s the thing about fishing – it’s all in the game, and the game is the process. A lot of people miss that part, but that’s the very reason Geraldine seeks refuge on the water. Regardless of what’s on her mind, the water slows her, calms her, and her spirit feels renewed.
With that renewed spirit, Geraldine wakes each day feeling grateful for the simple things. Her brother may tease her about her “boring” life, but she fills her days with friends, family, and time with her dog, Momma. A long time ago, she used to be busier, but she found that she was always running around and never had enough time to do the things she wanted. “I was filling life up with things that didn’t matter because I had gotten away from my roots,” she muses. “But if you were taught something, you always come back.” So, while Geraldine doesn’t focus much on material things, she’s content to focus on peace, joy, and happiness, and spreading that to others in the form of encouragement. And, when she needs to reflect and recharge so she can, in turn, invest in others, she returns to the water that feeds her soul.