To Travel Is Better Than To Arrive

To Travel 1

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” [Loren Eiseley]

Euphoria! My summer at the shores resumed today and I am profoundly grateful. Thankful to be, once again, breathing well enough to go out; and thankful to be able to get out without Cam’s support; and thankful to be able to spend time in my park; and thankful to be able to get out on the water. Bliss!

The past decade of my life seems to have been about recovering from one ailment after another — a seemingly constant journey to wellness. I trust my medical team implicitly and leave all the treatment decisions in their capable hands. My contribution, beyond swallowing all the prescribed pills, is to achieve and maintain a positive state of mind and to strengthen myself physically as much as allowed. The alpha and omega of this journey is Presqu’ile – on its shores, amongst its plants, birds and animals and, this summer, on its waters.

Presqu’ile is a place of great spirituality for me. Being electronically disconnected silences life’s noises. Walking Jobes’ Woods is time spent in quiet reflection. The solitude and tranquility of the lagoon is perfect for meditation. These pursuits always clear my mind, bring serenity and allow me to refocus on my agapeistic roots. Allow me to refocus on love, kindness and compassion.

My journey is also inextricably linked to photography and its interpretation of nature. Sitting still behind the lens, watching and waiting, is an exercise in patience, calmness and quietude.

Today this paradigm shifted significantly, from a cerebral to an entirely physical pursuit. Trust me — any lapse in concentration, any misplacement of the paddle, the wash of an aggressively driven power boat, trying to glance over one’s shoulder to glimpse the Heron taking flight, the wind, submerged tree trunks (the list is infinite) — all can, in the blink of an eye, dump the unsuspecting kayaker into the water. Stroke, stroke, pressure on the right foot, pressure on the left foot… Ooops! That was close. Stroke, stroke… Yes, there were photographs, taken quickly with the wee P&S, securely clipped to my PFD, but today’s outing was all about mastering the art of graceful yaking. And no, I’m not there yet — not by a long shot.

To Travel 2

“A man of wisdom delights in water.” [Confucius]

But here’s what happened… I ‘warmed up’ with a leisurely circuit of the lagoon, then padded as far east as the Brighton town dock at Presqu’ile and as far west as the eastern edge of the marsh, and back again, an outing of nearly three hours. Whilst paddling I met up with an elderly gentleman sitting in the shade on the shore. We exchanged pleasantries both times I passed. On the water I met an adorably cute and very young couple from Peterborough, camping in the park for their honeymoon and paddling a rented yak. He confided in me that they’d jury-rigged a rooftop carrier on their car for their boat and that there were scratches on their roof to attest to their loading efforts. They were spending their time alternatively paddling and swimming — one dip by choice, one ‘courtesy’ of a power boat helmed by a young hooligan (who we could hear laughing as he sped away).

Then it was time to take Rocky out of the water and load him back into Bullwinkle’s waiting arms (and gosh was it ever hot work). But first my, um, dismount. Not graceful, not efficient and definitely not dry (the boat, my PFD , me – everything got wet). Today, though, was a win on so many levels. I left the lagoon hot and tired. And deliriously happy. I. Did. It.

Mr. Stevenson was truly a wise man:

“Little do ye know your own blessedness;
for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive,
and the true success is to labour.”
[Robert Louis Stevenson]

Note: There is a significant case of sunburn in our home tonight (not Cam), due to a malfunctioning sunscreen container. Trust – I was not missing this chance to be out on the water due to a lack of SPF factor!

Addendum:  Feel The Burn
4th August
It’s not jut my skin that’s burning this morning.  Ouch – muscles I didn’t even know I had are screaming this morning.  Still the happiest of days.

Travel 3

♪Oh happy day…♪ (Can you hear me singing?)

 

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KINDNESS

kindness

Aporia at the seemingly sustainable popularity of Mr. Trump continues to rise everywhere, especially north of the 49th parallel. Not many of my friends watched the conventions, in fact many evinced their bewilderment at the Americans’ fascination with and enjoyment of them. I watched all four days of both — avidly.

Many a tagline was penned by the speechwriters, my favourite of which was — “Don’t boo. Vote!” — not, actually, part of his speech but rather a seemingly off-the-cuff rejoinder by President Obama. The line that has garnered the most attention in the press and on social media though, belongs to the brilliant First Lady, Michelle Obama:

“When they go low, we go high.”

Context:  This was how the Obamas taught their girls to not only ignore, but to rise above any spitefulness/rudeness towards and falsehoods about their family that they might see on television, hear on the radio or at school or read in the newspapers and social media.

We go high…

Just imagine what a beautiful place our entire planet would be if, rather than blaming, insulting, excluding, libelling, threatening, or hurting each other, we always chose to go high…

You will have noticed that there has been no news of Presqu’ile of late and that is because I have been house-bound battling pneumonia. During my confinement I agreed to do some writing for a multi-county health care, not-for-profit organization. During my conversations with the director he stressed to me the immense power of words: To encourage patients, to attract patrons, to achieve consensus, to give hope, to generate excitement and (eye on the prize — always) to raise funds. With this in mind, he wants my words to be ideogenetic and above all, he wants me — always — to go high.

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”
[Buddha]

This week I have been thinking a lot about my own words. Do they bring peace? Do they convey kindness and love? Do they help or do they hurt? Words are arguably my most powerful asset. I’ve written before about living an intentional life. My aspiration is to honestly express compassion, respect, fairness, gratitude, and caring with my words.

Back to the aforementioned Director: He mentioned that I was chosen because he was told I was a very nice person. This is not a brag, rather an expression of dismay. Nice is superficial, vapid, trite. How nice! Used, typically, when a compliment is expected and perhaps neither warranted nor necessary or to fill a conversational void. It is seldom genuine, usually meaningless. I do not want to be described as nice. Kind, though… Kindness is characterised as being generous, considerate, helpful, sympathetic, and caring. To be thought of as kind would be the ultimate compliment, the most favourable outcome.

Imprimis, how does one commence the transition from nice to kind? What acts, what words are necessary to spark this conversion? Intention, of course. Choosing to act with kindness. Choosing to write kindly prose.

“It is easy to perform a good action,
but not easy to acquire a settled habit
of performing such actions.”
[Aristotle]

I’m not entirely sure that kindness is nature. I suspect it is more nurture; an action to be practiced and practised every day, to gradually improve our kindness skills. At a time when there are many loud, blustery, negative voices, kindness is the salve society needs to calm frayed nerves, soothe broken hearts, and lift folks up when they need it the most. So I will put my best foot forward. I will practise and practice using only words of kindness.

“When they go low, we go high.”

’Til next time, y’all…