Canoeing on a Sunday afternoon
We went canoeing today.
It was really great. I’d forgotten how much I love being on the water.
I love the breeze on my face and the sprays of cool water on my skin.
I love the immediate feeling of peace. I love the large dose of gumtrees with their unmistakable eucalyptus scent, blue sky and sunshine.
What a treat!! What a way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon.
As I paddled my way up and down stream I couldn’t help thinking how much like life this was. Here’s some things I was thinking about out there on the water.
Pushing backwards to go forwards
In order to go forwards in a canoe (or any sort of row boat or kayak) your need to exert energy and push away from the direction you want to go. Think about it in order to go forwards you must push backwards. I know it’s physics, but still it’s counterintuitive. Life, I think, is like that too. Pushing backwards to go forwards.
And if you don’t push backwards you won’t really go anywhere except where the current takes you.
We spend so much time searching for the easy, fast and painless way to do anything. Whether it’s losing weight, setting up a business or learning to play flute (or learning anything for that matter). And people market life to us like that too. With any given product we are promised more, more, more with an investment of less, less, less.
I think we’ve forgotten that to truly own our achievements and get where we want to be we are going to have to sweat. We need to put our oars into the water and paddle. We need to build our muscles and enjoy the journey. We’ve forgotten that.
If I’d had a magic quick fix then canoeing would have been dead boring and over in an instant. I think we need to remember to cherish the challenge and the journey. We need to live our lives out there on the water. Marvelling in the beauty and, stroke by stroke, getting to where we need to be.
Keep on correcting
Canoeing is a constant effort of correcting. Correcting to the left then correcting to the right. It’s almost impossible to go in a straight line for more than stroke or two.
You can’t just set your eyes on your goal and paddle with all your might. If you didn’t correct you could end up heading for either river bank or even facing backwards. Even if you are in some super-sleek olympic standard kayak or part of an elite rowing crew – I reckon there must be some level of correcting to be done.
Because on water, where you try to go is only one part of the equation regarding where you eventually end up. Firstly the river itself tries to take you where it wants to go. Put your oars down, lie back and do nothing and you’ll end up floating downstream. That might be OK if you are happy to completely go with the flow, but it might not work if there is a waterfall ahead.
Then of course there’s the wind. Wherever it blows you go, unless you correct against it. You might enjoy a light breeze blowing through your hair, but on water it can be quite a force to reckon with.
And of course there’s random branches to avoid and the curvature of the river itself to navigate.
And life truly is like that too. We set goals, but if we just paddle full steam ahead – then we’ll hit the river bank by mistake. And we can’t just float wherever the world wants to take us because then we’ll head over a waterfall.
No. Instead living is a purposeful adventure that takes effort and correcting our as we work our way to our goals and inevitably drift off course. We have ups and downs and currents and breezes to correct for as we strive to get where we want to be.
Infinitely more beautiful
So that’s all life all right. We have to push backwards to go forwards and constantly correct ourselves to make sure we stay on course. This may be harder and more tiring than the endless quick fixes and overpromising we are bombarded with daily…
…But I think it’s an infinitely more beautiful way to live out there on the water with oars in your hands and living life in the direction you want. What about you?