Lessons on the Water

I think we can all agree these are pretty crazy times. Covid-19 has laid the WORLD low, and my mental and emotional state has, as I’m sure many people’s have also, been incredibly up and down for the past few weeks.

I’m fortunate in that I’m quarantined at a house on a lake in CT for the duration, and as the weather is getting warmer, I grabbed a kayak to hit the water – using the physical exertion to get out of my head and forget the woes of the world for a bit.

With the sun shining down, warming my face, the water relatively calm, I worked my way along, reminding myself to breath and relax; get into the rhythm of the flow. Birds sang and there were no boats to disrupt my little adventure; my vague destination was a cluster of islands. As I neared them, the waterway I was in widened out so there was a broad expanse between the bank and the opposite hills. Wind picked up and the water became a little wavy. I pushed the paddle further into the water and put a bit more strength into my strokes. The exertion lasted some 10 minutes before I made it to the islands, where I saw several different types of water birds. A nice breeze came and went. There was a boat or two with people fishing. We exchanged pleasantries from an acceptable distance. Going around the islands, the wind came alive again. I found myself being buffeted along and having to keep a wary eye on the rocks. Once I was a safe distance, instead of fighting the waves, I used my paddle to keep in the direction they were heading so I wasn’t in danger of flipping, and let them carry me along. Eventually, the waters calmed and I was able to zip back along my course home.

As I was heading back, I realized this small experience was a rather apt metaphor for life:

  1. Sometimes life is smooth paddling. You get along relatively well, can enjoy the scenery, and generally feel good about what’s happening and where you’re heading.
  2. Sometimes things get rough; but this jarring from your complacency wakes you up so you can dig your paddle deeper to correct and stay on course.
  3. And sometimes, the wind and the waves pick up, you find yourself alone and maybe a little scared. The water is dark and cold. But if you keep your head, gauge whether it’s best to fight for your path or go with the flow until things even out again, you’ll find yourself alright on the other side.

I’m not trying to make light of this horrible situation – not at all. This is a very simple metaphor when a very complex reality is affecting billions of people around the world.  It can be overwhelming and terrifying. We are faced with new realities, new restrictions, and new choices on a daily basis. But as my therapist loves to remind me, Choices are simply options, neither inherently Right nor Wrong. So, sometimes it’s helpful (at least I find it so), to get back to basics, and remember that this, too, shall pass, and we have myriad choices on how we will interact with what is happening. The power is in YOUR hands. Remember that, dear reader.


About juliamenn

Performer. Artist. Author. Lover of food and travel. Animal enthusiast. Avid reader. Globe-trotter.
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