Day Five: A Lifetime of Lessons

The constant movement of the water’s flow calls for one’s constant attention.

If only we all stopped to realize – on or off the water – everything is always in motion. And we should always be giving life our utmost attention…

Because of this, what I watch flow out of day five (our first day on the river!) is an overwhelming amount of lessons from each and every person, or puzzle piece, shall I say.

“When in doubt, scout it out,” says Jon, right before we jump in our canoes and make an “offering” to the river before we commence.

Then, from Jack, “Love the rock, don’t hate the rock,” he says, explaining how leaning into barriers on the water (or in life, I suppose) can keep you from flipping over.

“If you hate the rock you’re going to flip every time,” he adds.

“And remember, sometimes the biggest wave is not the strongest wave.”

As we get comfortable, the mood moves from safety to talk about technique. Jack explains a perfect paddle stroke, sharing how he learned as a kid to pretend he was wearing a jersey with a number on his chest.

“Show the judges on shore your number!” he says, demonstrating the movement.

Soon after, we pull over to the shore, stopping at a creek flowing into the river. It’s known as Mess Creek.

Here, what I learn from Alexa (after her and Jon scour for rocks) are the feelings she is experiencing in these sunny moments. She brings me back to when she was a child playing soccer in the schoolyard. Grade six.

“I remember just thinking that life is so good,” she says, “It was the first time I ever experienced bliss.”

This is what she says she is sensing now.

Which, I also experience getting back into the canoe paddling with Steve thereafter. We share many moments of silence, followed by many moments of getting to know each other. We even develop a language of how hard to paddle based on the “standard vehicle method.”

“I would say this is a second gear rapid,” he guides me calmly. “Okay, now let’s shift in to fourth.”

Then, playing with a bit of my own love language, “I would be a willow tree,” he responds to my favourite of all the questions being “What kind of tree are you?”

“Why be someone’s rock when you can be their shelter?” he adds.

As the river changes tides, Steve changes moods. From sincere to totally silly, I suddenly awaken to the fact that there are not nine people on the trip…

But 11.

Steve has two acting characters travelling with him at all times. We grow to name one “Safety Steve.” I grow to LOVE Safety Steve. Dearly. It is this wonky yet totally endearing character who later teaches me how to use a “Flint and Steele” fire starter as we spark a flame having successfully chosen a cozy campsite for the evening. (This is where Steve also makes me a strap to hang my sunglasses from my neck, an integral piece of wear on a trip, I am learning.)

After dinner, I take my turn. I show the group what poses to put the body in to aid digestion. As everyone knows, a healthy flow on a camping trip is essential not only on the river…

(A bunged up body is a bunged up mind!)

It’s a story, of a story, of a story…

Here’s to the processes of it all.