Is it the challenge, the change, the peace, the quiet, the natural world? I think for many of us it is all of the above. It has so many redeeming qualities, who could resist? The natural world holds a powerful medicine for many of our day to day struggles. Returning to our roots and being immersed in natural rhythms seems to level out anything, everything, smooth every bump. No wonder so many of us seek it out.
Often times, I find myself in the ocean concentrating on my breathing as the swells heave and descend. Working to just “be” in the moment or place. Or drifting down stream taking in the sounds and pace of the water. Reveling in the smooth effortless ride. This time is so beneficial to how we interact with the natural world and find the best path to enjoy it. Fighting the water is a sure fire way to become tired and spent. Which holds no shame, by the way, the water is happy to oblige. It can also be beneficial to spend time flowing with the water, understanding its current state and then beginning to explore ways to influence your travel in small increments. Maybe by changing your plans, working on a different technique, adjusting your time line, or mindset entirely.
It is often humorous how we get to the water. Sometimes running in huge bounds because we cannot wait to start an adventure. Jumping into the conditions that we have been waiting for. Other times, almost by accident, as if we were surprised to be there again, so soon, with that person or another. Or it could have been a long methodical journey of planning and preparation. Spending a great deal of time researching, organizing and communicating ideas. The end result is always the same, it was waiting for us, it knew we would return, and is ready to press us to our limits or just flow along beside us.
Bodies of water do not behave as we often expect our daily lives to. They are not easily melded to our will or influenced. The water flows in its own direction, slowly changed by wind, air pressure, rainfall and the moon over a great period of time and distance. Factors that can be endlessly studied and still require a bit of artful interpretation. The end result is an amazing progression, represented in many forms.
Rivers, creeks, oceans and lakes can be still, silent, almost unseen. Such as a pond, dead flat in the early morning. Often times they are powerfully unassuming, such as a large volume of river flowing down stream with barely a surface ripple. Or can be a raging torrent of wind and waves with a seemingly unpredictable path. The distance between is, at instances, abrupt. And at other times a slow progression from one form to the next.
The water is always ready. You can wear yourself down practicing paddle strokes or movements against its resistance. Smoothly glide across the surface or dive into its depth and be surrounded by support. The water is always open to exploration and welcomes wonder. Revealing every answer in its due time. But, it always holds more secrets, more to understand, new changes and challenges.
The water always progresses towards a goal. I think this is one of the things I most appreciate about paddling. Not so much the beginning, the end, or the individual challenges, but the journey between the two. There are always bends in the river bed, rock shores, or inlets to pass, but the water stands ready for the task and when finished, returns to it’s peaceful state awaiting the next new challenge.