Friday, April 15, 2011

Life and Paddling as Psychic Exfoliants

This post wanted to be written so much, I spun around in the shower thinking about it, hit the water control and doused myself with icy water. I was thinking of river analogies, which I do often. Being on, and in, a river is like earth life. Expert paddlers have tremendous skill, even in dangerous water, but the river is always in charge. Control is an ephemeral illusion. Canoeing has lovely words like tumblehome, which is the body curve that keeps a boat upright, but also makes me feel home as a place I love to roll toward. Downstream lean is how to enter a river: lean into it, and the current carries you; lean away and you're tipped. Like life. Woody Allen said that 90% of living is just showing up. A character in my book admits to living an unattended life, and relays the results. If attention is missing on the river, you're swimming, and your boat is for sale on eBay. If life is the river, your canoe is your pack of experience. You are engaged, afloat and have choices. You choose your lines, use your skill to hit them spot on. If you choose badly, you swim. Next time you do better. Your paddle is always in the water. If your paddle is out of the water, you're in trouble straightaway. Disengage from full contact with life, you're careening. A river has rocks, obstacles, fast drops, overhanging trees, wildlife, bouncing submerged branches, other boaters. Each impact scrapes some material off your boat and body, but adds to your skill, confidence and joy. On the river, I am fully engaged, cannot be anywhere but here, in any time other than now. Now, now, now. New growth needs the old stuff exfoliated. Scrub the barnacles, the bad choices off, leave the old cells in the water to feed some other lifeform, and your psyche reemerges, having learned something new. You bloom afresh. Shinier, healthier, calmer, lit from within.

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