I have often thought about the connections
that paddlers experience when canoeing. Peace, reflection and wonder come to mind. I suppose it's a
desire to seek a form of quiet meditation. I find it natural to turn to paddling as a meditation point.
I'm not sure that the canoe is the real catalyst for me though. It's the natural environment that really
elevates my awareness and feeling of heightened spiritually and belonging. For instance, I would not feel
at one with my surroundings if I was paddling indoors in a chlorinated pool,
where as I might feel
totally different if I had hiked into a remote waterfall.
But canoeing is in my blood. I have found
that it is not a separate entity in my
life but part of my psyche and personal make up. My Dad, by example, showed me
that this balance was possible. He was always so busy and active, working and
going non-stop for months at a time. Nevertheless, he recognised that he really
needed the quiet solitude of a wilderness journey to nourish his soul and
rekindle his spirit.
As far back as I can remember, I have been spending a part of my summer
canoeing and camping in the wilderness. These have been memorable and rewarding
trips but equally important for me is the hour or two of paddling I can squeeze
into the middle of a busy week. I like to jump in my canoe and head out with no
real destination or purpose, just letting the wind and my whims lead me where
they may. Upon returning to my desk and slogging through the pile of stuff that
needs attending I enjoy thinking of the adventures I will be able to continue on
my next paddle.
It's fun to fantasize about paddling. To imagine exploring
further that tiny trickle of a headwater, that slowly builds and turns into a
lively river with rapids I dance in, and chutes and falls I portage around, and
mirror-like pools I spin and play upon. However, nothing can substitute for the
real thing. So I do get out there. And when I do, that feeling of being at one
with the land and water and air slowly surrounds and envelops me, it feels very
calming and Zen like. And I know that in my dreams and in my life I will eagerly
continue on, going just a little further down that creek to see what is there
and what new wonders the wilderness will have to teach me.