Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Seeking a "tangible calm"...on the water, on the trail, in the moment.

Peace is all around us.
- Thich Nhat Hanh

Just before the snow began to fall here, on the Island(s), we had an unusually calm and tranquil sunny day. The sea state was still, as if in between all oceanic tidal movement. The air was still, as if in that effortless moment between exhalation and inhalation. All nature seemed still, as if in between the collective heartbeats of all creatures. Our minds were still...in anticipation of something changing.

But nothing changed...

A "tangible calm" so often seems to elude us. We may often miss out on the experience for much the same reason that we sometimes miss seeing the gaping pot hole in the middle of the road, even in the broad daylight. We've lost focus, and we've traded situation awareness in any given moment for whatever it is that we allow to distract us and hold our attention.

Driving, of course, demands that we focus on safe passage - and that's where our attention should be. When conditions allow, paddling, on the other hand, or walking in the forest, is not so demanding. We are able to "mosey" through time. Our "passage" can be leisurely, our thoughts less focused, our minds more receptive. That is why these self-propelled activities can be so rejuvenating.

It is my experience that we sometimes choose, often unwittingly, to block all access to the tangible calm. Anxiousness and anger, jealousy and regret, the drive to acquire and accumulate, usually serve only to separate us from what our hearts and spirits truly yearn. 

When we pause these distractions (and our busyness) long enough to connect with the natural world, something very beautiful happens. When we release ourselves from the grip of technology or separate ourselves from the intrusion of countless forms of media, we feel a gentle liberation. When we value and seek to find the best in ourselves...and especially in others, then our hearts open wide and we experience a warmth and a peace that comforts and strengthens. That feeling of warmth comes from the occasion of discovering that, indeed,  "peace is all around us" - we just have to let it in.

We experienced it on that day. You will have had similar experiences, I'm sure.


Pic: The Salish Sea, my Solstice kayak, north of Gabriola Island - and a very calm day.


  1. Nice to hear from you, BF JJ. Yep, it was a pretty rare day. Thanks, as always, for your comment. D.

  2. I've always loved the term that describes a certain moonscape - "Tranquility Base". Imagine if each of our lives, our homes, our communities, and our world could reflect that sentiment. Thanks. Gen.

  3. "When we pause these distractions (and our busyness) long enough to connect with the natural world, something very beautiful happens."

    Very true. And it is often serendipitous. I find I have to deliberately go to the wild and then sometimes just wait for it to hit me.

    Great post.

  4. Thanks for your words, Richard. You're so right, and that serendipitous character of the "outdoor experience" is so much a part of its charm. I've placed your excellent blog on our "Good Reads". Check it out folks at http://100lakesonvancouverisland.blogspot.com/